December 14, 2016

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My Romanian friends think it's hilarious that I can't properly pronounce this and end up saying something with an entirely different meaning...


Don't worry, native speakers laugh at that even with proper pronunciation.


... And what is it they think that you are saying? Don't let the rest of us fall into the trap!


Is there supposed to be a hint of a w after the m here? And is it more likely to be confused with something else if i overdo the w or if i leave it out altogether? Also what will it get confused with?


Well, pronouncing the ”â” sound may be a very difficult task for westerners as it does not exist in their languages - it is the only Romanian sound in this situation; we have other ”exotic” sounds, like ”ă”, ”j”, ”ț” and ”ș”, for example, but they exist in western languages, even if you do not have a symbol/letter for them. For example ”ă” is identical (or, well, very similar) with the ”ir” group in ”girl”, ”bird” or ”sir” (possible phonetic transcription in Romanian: ”găl”, ”bărd”, ”săr”), or the ”er” in many words, like ”cooler” (phonetic transcription in Ro: ”culăr”). The Romanian ”j” sound does not exist in English, but it exists in French, etc. (the French ”j” in ”Jacques”) and you have it in some words borrowed from French, but it may be difficult for you to avoid pronouncing it ”gi” like in ”ginger” (I always wondered how does Angelina Jolie pronounces her name, hehe, is it Jholie, or Giolie?). About ”ș”, well..., English is full of ”ș..” (no pun intended :P, hehe) but you write it ”sh” or ”ch”. The Romanian ”ț” also exists in few words that you borrowed from German, but you use to write it ”tz”, or just only ”z”, like in ”Franz”, ”Zurich”, or ”Austerlitz”. A soft form of it exists in finals of English words like ”spirits” (BTW, this comes from German ”spritz”, a mixture of alcohol and water, does it not? we just call it in Romanian ”șpriț” :P, however, the ghosts are called ”spirit/spirite” - no exotic sound here, sorry).

However, the ”â” sound we talk about, exists only in Rusian (like ”ы” in ”ты”, ”you”), Thai (◌ึ), Chinese (”shì” ”to be”, like in ”wǒ shì”, ”I am”), Turkish (ı), etc., other eastern/oriental languages, therefore the native speakers of English, Italian, French, Spanish, etc. tend to pronounce it with an ”oo”, ”u” or ”w” sound (aditional, or instead of it). Germans will pronounce it "ü" or ”ue” (which is strange too, to our ears).

Doing that in this particular Romanian word, ”lămâie” (and especially if you do not pronounce the ă correcly, either), you have all the chances to say, and will say, ”la muie” which is a slang for oral sex (textual ”to the mouth” https://dexonline.ro/definitie/muie). (I hope we are all adults here). This is childish, but it is extremely funny for a native Romanian to hear a foreigner trying to pronounce this word. https://www.duolingo.com/comment/22236938


oops. I'll try to keep the syllables together and the w to a minimum then!


Thank you for this amazing reply

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