27 June 2005

Perhaps I'm not worthy of being a true Language Learner

For several days since reading blogchik's post, I have been wondering if I am a bad language learner. Or a bad Russian language learner, more specifically.

Last October, when I had a close encounter with a native Russian speaker, we came across this sound

I had been pronouncing it as a "short" American English i, knowing full well that it was an incorrect pronunciation, but not knowing how to fix it. The native Russian speaker corrected me, pronounced several example words containing the sound, and tried to describe its place of articulation TO NO AVAIL. I never could get it right, so we moved on. AND THAT WAS OKAY TO ME. Honestly, I may never have to use this language, so I just want a basic understanding. If I don't master this particularly Russian sound, it is alright with me... or so I thought, until I came across this note from blogchik. She takes pride in being able to pronounce it correctly, it sounds as if she has worked for ages to master the sound. It gives me the impression of being a sort of coming of age for Russian learners. Is it like mastering the French /ʀ/? (Only to discover that they don't pronounce a uvular R in Provence anyway?)

At this point, I will not be able to master the ы because I don't have regular access to native speakers. However, I cannot stop wondering if perhaps I should give more consideration to my strong American accent.


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