I had this as a "type what you hear" task, so I typed what I heard: Vi sjunger. Wrong. Three questions later it came up again. This time of course I typed, "De sjunger." Wrong again! After the timed practice session was over, I used the "scoreboard" to review the lesson (I don't know if everybody has it, I think I am in a test group). I was able to play the two recordings in juxtaposition, one after the other. They sound EXACTLY the same! :(
I don't agree that they sound the same, but the audio for De sjunger sounds like Det sjunger, which would also be a possible Swedish sentence, so I've disabled the "type what you hear" task for this one. Hopefully from now on you'll only get the Vi sjunger one :)
Thanks Arnauti. I guess this confirms what linguists say about language acquisition... that while adults do just fine in learning vocab and grammar, there's something unique about the ability to hear and imitate individual phonemes during childhood. I really couldn't hear any difference.
From watching normal Japanese postdoc students learn English, a normal middle-aged American professor learn German, and having some experience with neuronal networks: it is clearly a problem to hear sounds that don't exist in your mothertongue in the beginning - but it is doable at any age, and the best method is to find a description how the two sounds you have trouble distinguishing are formed in your mouth, and then listen and try to speak after a native speaker or two good recordings of those two sounds. For days. Everywhere you can. R/L; R/L; R/L... U/Ü, U/Ü, U/Ü.... In addition, it is good (or maybe even completely necessary) to have somebody who can give you feedback whether you are pronouncing them correctly, especially in the beginning.
The reason it is so hard to hear the difference is in your brain: our brain is trying to recognise a familiar pattern (think faces in the wall or Jesus in a biscuit...) so you always "hear" (recognise) the sound you are used to. So what you need to teach it, is that the difference in the neuronal firing pattern is actually important, and, roughly speaking, what the tolerance for each of the two groups is.
good point! say, do you still work in neural networks? what type of software do you use?
I think the ear sort of needs to become accustomed to the new sounds, with practice you'll soon hear the Swedish sounds much more clearly.
Hopefully so. I once heard that people who work for the secret services need to perfect their accent so that they sound like native speakers, and that they have methods to help them do so.
If anyone reads this now: the new TTS gets it right (it pronounces de as dom, as it should sound) so I've enabled the 'listen and type' exercise again.
I hear the "sj" not as a "h" but more like the "wh" / "hw" sound in the beginning of "wheat" as pronounced by an american friend of mine (she is from Detroit, I am not sure whether and hwere, err, where else that particular pronunciation is common)
My swedish friend says yes, but at the same time pronounces sk in sked and sj in sjunger quite differently %) Any other opinions from native speakers?
Both de and dem are pronounced as if they were written dom, so this is as it should be.