English is a ridiculous language

Does it really matter that I don’t know how to pronounce spinach?

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PHOTO: Nothing Ahead / Pexels

By: Daniel Salcedo Rubio, Features Editor

English is an absurd language. There, I said it. For me, it was relatively easy to reach a conversational level, but English has some random pronunciation rules which . . . don’t make sense? 

A week ago, in one of The Peak’s pitch meetings, I had an ESL (English as a second language) moment. All my life I’ve been pronouncing “minestrone soup” as mine-strown, you know, like how you would pronounce “Minecraft” (mine-kraft). Apparently, it’s pronounced mi-nuh-strow-nee — how on earth is my Latino ass supposed to know that? I know, don’t even begin, minestrone soup is of Italian origin and foreign words don’t follow the same pronunciation rules . . . yes, I admit fault in this case. 

Well, you know what? To the surprise of no one but myself, my roommate let me know today that I’m also pronouncing “spinach” wrong. I’ve been pronouncing it as you would pronounce character or Christmas, with the keh sound at the end — apparently it’s supposed to be spi-nuhch, kinda like choices or chances, with that very pronounced ch sound. All I have to say is why? Why am I subjected to feeling ignorant every other week due to arbitrary rules that have the enforceability of very thin glass? To quote Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, “Do you even know how smart I am in Spanish?” (Spoiler alert, not very).

Well, I no longer have any form of respect for this language’s rules. Yes, that’s right, spinach pushed me over the edge. This is my second time living in a country where I have to speak English in order to communicate, and you know what? I’ve never had a real problem getting my point across. I’m even doing a Master’s degree in my second language and somehow I’m also the features editor for this publication! There’s really no reason for anyone to feel lesser due to pronunciation nuances that don’t affect their ability to communicate wants and needs. Pronunciation doesn’t equal fluency. Actually, be proud of your thick accent because it means you know how to speak another language, a feat most people who make fun of your mispronunciations probably can’t claim themselves. If you’re going to call me a Latino with an accent, just make sure you add bilingual before it.

My only rule for pronunciation moving forward is to always respect a person’s name or any words that have a sociocultural meaning (yes, even Worcestershire sauce). Why? Because that’s not language, that’s someone’s identity and culture, and thus should be respected (you win this time, minestrone soup). Language’s main purpose is to communicate your thoughts to others, and if you’re doing that — nothing else really matters.

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