July 19th, 2012

hannibal » silhouette

ESL question -- Spanish + Russian

I'm writing a story involving two characters, both of whom speak English as a second language - the first character is Spanish, the second is Russian. I would like to know what are some common mistakes native Spanish/Russian speakers make when speaking English as a second/third language? Of course, the mistakes I make in Spanish/Russian are not the same as others would make, so a better question might be: if you are a native Spanish/Russian speaker, what are some mistakes you make in (American) English?
kitten on the keys

Analysis of spontaneous speech error?

[I am a native speaker of American English.]

It's been a few years since I got my BA in Linguistics, and about as long since I've used any of what I learned. Thus, there's quite a bit I've forgotten.

The other day, I intended to say, "The shape looked odd." What I actually said, however, was, "The shaped look odd."

Could someone please tell me what happened there? What manner of metathesis did I commit? Is it properly metathesis? Is it actually more complicated than that? This inquiring mind would love to know.

Thank you!

Learning and remembering names

Hey Linguaphiles,

I turn to you with a question that I'm not sure is 100% appropriate for this group.  Let me know if it's not.

There are two women who attend my Zumba class who I've kind of become friends with.  They're here here working for the British Consulate.  And I'm an Anglophile.  Ya know.  Heard British accents and got all excited.  Went over and told them about how I love visiting their country and such.  So now we always say hi, catch up a bit.  I translate stuff in class for them.  But this is the thing.  I introduced myself to them the first time I met them.  Repeated my name a few times and mentioned an English name that it's sort of similar to my name.  They seemed baffled.  Then the next week we said hi, I reminded them of my name.  They were like "yeah, the name that sounds like _______."  And ever since then we've been greeting each other, me greeting them by name and them greeting me with "hey!" (smile).  It seems a bit late in the game for me to be like "You may have trouble remembering my name.  Let me write it out for you." or for them to ask me again what my name is.  So now it's awkward.  My name is four syllables long in a language that's completely foreign to them.  And I've never heard them say it.  Granted I only have actual conversations with them about ten minutes a week.

I suck at remembering names even if they're names I'm already familiar with, and I've been working on mnemonics and various tricks to remember people's names.  But if you don't remember their name by the third time you meet them (happens to me all the time), it becomes awkward to ask again.  So how do I subtly get them to learn my name?

I figure this is something people in this group have dealt with since you are such a multicultural bunch :)