(You may have to turn your sound up really high to hear these recordings. Sorry about that.)
Did you know that in Thai, the language of Thailand, the “t” in “stop” and the “t” in “top” are two different letters and they hear them as completely different sounds?
In each language, there are sounds that the speakers of the language hear as distinct, and others that they hear as the same. One of the challenges in acquiring a new language is that your ears have to learn to hear differences that are important in the new language but aren’t important in your language. Then your tongue has to eventually be able to pronounce those differences, too. Yikes!
One of my challenges in hearing the differences in sounds that are important in My Language is shown in the audio recordings above. Here, it seems like the difference in the tone makes a difference in the grammar of the sentence. As you listen to the first two clips, can you hear the difference? How about the second two? In both cases, the difference is very slight to my ears, but it makes a huge difference in meaning. The second two audio clips are opposites, and the first two are almost opposites, too.
(The topic of taking a shower may seem rather awkward to you. But it’s a normal topic of conversation here. And if you’re someone’s company, your host will likely ask you, “Have you taken a shower yet?” If you respond with, “I am not taking a shower now,” they will leave you be. But if you respond with “I haven’t taken a shower yet,” they will heat up a bucket of water and bring it to you so you can take a shower. So which way you answer affects their actions and what you’ll soon be doing, too!)
You can pray for me as my ear gets used to hearing these differences that sound so minor to me. May it become second-nature to me as it is to them, or at least may I be able to understand and make myself understood.
You can also pray for our alphabet development. It’s going to be important to somehow be able to write this difference in the alphabet, too. Lots of work to do!