‘It’ is a headache. But not so bad as prepositions.
Tue Sep 11, 2018 09:55

He smiled back at Katya. For a moment, Heinrich couldn’t quite figure out what was wrong with Katya’s English. It followed all the grammatical rules he knew, and almost could have come right out of one of his own practice conversations in the language. But he recognized something was off about it, but it took a few moments for him to realize . . . it was too perfect. Real native speakers were much lazier in their grammar.

On the one hand, it made him want to bang his head repeatedly on his desk because what was the point of having grammar rules if the speakers of the language didn’t use them??

On the other hand, he felt pretty proud of himself for being able to make this observation. He wouldn’t have been able to a year ago.

“Yes,” he confirmed, “I am a second year.” He recognized his own sentence had the same failing as hers; it was too perfect, with each word carefully enunciated as best as his accent allowed. Native speakers wouldn’t have phrased it like that, he was sure, or if they did, they would have blurred the words together more. He realized this was why he had found Masha, with her own accented English, easier to understand than, say, Michael DiCaprio, who used fast words and slang that didn’t make it into early vocabulary lessons.

“I like Sonora,” he admitted, a sentence he would not have used a year ago, even if he could have constructed it. Even now he wasn’t entirely sure of its truthfulness, though after this summer he could certainly see its advantages over a German school or even a European school. “The teachers are nice and have understanding. The English is the hard thing.” That sentence was not too perfect, but in the bad way that meant his vocabulary was failing him. “People talk fast. It makes it hard for friends finding.”

  • I suspect context can make 'it' a real headache of a word.Katerina Vorontsov, Mon Sep 10 17:37
    Heinrich. That was not a Russian name at all, of course – she had figured out reading history that someone Germans called Heinrich and the English called Henry, Russians would call Genrikh; Katya had ... more
    • ‘It’ is a headache. But not so bad as prepositions. — Heinrich, Tue Sep 11 09:55
      • And tenses. Don't get me started on tenses.Katerina, Mon Sep 17 20:53
        Heinrich used short, straightforward sentences. This was – at least when it wasn’t done for her benefit, as it clearly wasn’t here – a trait Katya appreciated in a person. His grammar twisted on... more
        • Oh, I am with you there!Heinrich, Wed Oct 3 15:03
          German! She spoke German! Not perfectly, it was clear, but enough! Enough that it would have immediately gotten her an invitation to the ball last year, enough that his eyes widened in surprise and... more
          • Glad we're on the same page.Katerina, Wed Oct 10 11:40
            Katya listened closely, glad for relatively short, straightforward sentences in German as well as English, and then shook her head. “No,” she said, also in German. “I do not go to Germany. Mama war – ... more
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