Do you speak English better than the president of the United States? It’s easier than it sounds
We always compare English proficiency with native speakers. For some reason, it is generally accepted that almost all Americans or British know English better than students who learn the language as a second.
Not really. Even politicians in senior government positions often speak and write illiterate. And the best example of this is Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States.
Americans are people too
Not all native speakers can speak well and write competently. While teaching English as a foreign language, most students believe that their student language will greatly lose to the native English speaker.
And upon arrival in the United States or Britain, they are greatly surprised by the tongue-tied language of the local population. And the point is not even in accents and slang, but in the banal language errors that a person makes on the machine.
Donald Trump is a great example of such a somewhat tongue-tied American. He never studied English or stage speech. Therefore, his English language is similar to the one spoken by the vast majority of US residents. With grammatical and spelling errors, incorrect pronunciation of words and spelling of phrases “as you hear”.
Spoken Reservations and Errors
Reservations are normal. Any person can get confused. But in English there is one interesting thing – the words there can be read completely differently than they are written.
And if you don’t know how to pronounce a particular word, then there is a big chance that it will not work out correctly.
Contest is still popular in the USA Spelling bee among schoolchildren and students, in which participants must correctly pronounce the written word.
Such entertainment was popular back in the 19th century, but as a large-scale competition it first appeared in 1908, and already in 1925 the nationwide Spelling Bee championship appeared.
Today, such championships are an invariable part of the culture of the English-speaking world. Several films have even been shot about the competition: for example, Akeelah and the Bee (2006) and Spellbound (2002). The competition also appeared in a large number of series and shows, including in The Simpsons (season 14, episode 12).
So, in order to correctly pronounce a compound word, you need to be familiar with it in advance. Look in the dictionary for transcription, for example.
It is clear that Trump’s political speeches are written by the press service. But often, even with quite ordinary words, the president has problems. There are also reservations, but in some cases it is clear that the politician simply does not know how to pronounce the word correctly.
Here, Trump’s similar bloopers in 2019 are very clearly collected:
As you can see, Trump tried to call Venezuela correctly 3 times – and this is only in this example. However, none of them was correct.
Although it is correct like this:
Not even a close hit.
Students who learn English as a second often do not make such mistakes. They accept the fact that the pronunciation in English can be very strange, so they get into the habit of watching transcriptions of new words or listening to professional voices voicing them. In paper textbooks of the English language near each new word there is a transcription, and in interactive textbooks or applications there is also a correct example of pronunciation.
Native speakers who do not learn English applied do differently. They often try to read unknown words “by analogy” with those that they know well. But this does not always work.
For example, take two similar spelling words: ration (ration) and cation (cation).
Suppose the carrier knows how to pronounce the first – [ˈræʃ.ən]. But he does not know how to pronounce the second. By analogy, he can assume that [ˈkæʃ.ən]. But no. Correct pronunciation – [ˈkæt.aɪən].
Such blunders in political speeches are just a consequence of the fact that Trump is not preparing for speeches. And knowledge of the language is corny insufficient to cope with complex words and phrases on the fly. We suspect that he opens his speech only at the moment when it is already necessary to read it and not a minute earlier.
Twitter spelling errors
Donald Trump is also known for actively following his Twitter, expressing his thoughts there on various state and personal occasions.
One of the main features of Twitter is that you cannot edit posts there. Therefore, mistakes immediately become public. And the Internet, as they say, remembers everything. Even if the tweet was subsequently deleted and republished.
Probably Trump’s most famous tweet, which went into memes. Only the lazy did not joke over the strange word “convfefe”. But despite an obvious typo, the tweet sagged for as long as 6 hours before it was deleted.
It is clear that here is an obvious typo, not a grammatical error. There are a lot of posts in his tweets. But in general, you should not blame a person for them – anyone can be sealed up. True, there are enough errors in Trump’s tweets:
… despite already having signed a detailed letter admitting that there was no affair. Prior to its violation by Ms. Clifford and her attorney, this was a private agreement. Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll in this transaction.
“Played no roll in this transaction”
Instead of “roll” should be “role”.
And then the strange “did not play any roll in this transaction” turns into understandable “did not play any role in this transaction”.
Ted Cruz is totally unelectable, if he even gets to run (born in Canada). Will loose big to Hillary. Polls show I beat Hillary easily! WIN!
One of the most common mistakes among Americans, which we, by the way, wrote about in the article “6 mistakes in English words that are terribly enraging.” And Trump did not escape her either.
Lose – lose Loose – loose, loose-fitting
Fact that the sound [uː] in a record is often referred to as “oo.” For example, in the words “pool” or “mood”. That is why it seems to many carriers that “lose” should be written as “loose”.
And again the spelling of the word “by sound.” The words “waist” and “waste” are pronounced exactly the same – [weɪst]but the first means “waist”, and the second – “waste, loss.”
Here is a clear mistake due to ignorance of how to spell the word. Subsequently, the tweet was deleted, but the Internet remembers everything.
So it turns out that the US president knows English at a rather mediocre level. And that’s exactly what the most ordinary neutral looks like, which is never a linguist.
This in the minds of Russian speakers was erroneously entrenched: “If he is neutral, he knows English better than someone who teaches a language as a foreign one.” But most carriers make a lot of mistakes. The difference is about the same as between the standard Russian-speaking inhabitant and the philologist of the Russian language.
Unexpectedly, students who study English as a foreign language, in terms of concepts, find themselves closer to a philologist. Because when learning a language, an integrated approach is used. Students separately study grammar, improve listening comprehension, vocabulary, and oral speech. An analogue of the ecosystem of the language is created.
With proper language learning and achieving a fluent level, a student makes many times less mistakes than the average American. The only thing that a student’s vocabulary is most often is 1.5-2 times less. But this can also be fixed using special applications for learning English words.
Communicating in English is better than the US president is not so difficult. You just need to learn the language competently and enjoy it.
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