When I was 16 I did two weeks’ work experience at the local newspaper, and since my uncle was a journalist there I was entrusted to write a piece on some kindergarten children who’d built a fort out of milk cartons. That was the beginning of my writing career. I later got a part-time job to fit around my school work, and ended up with my very own weekly column, writing articles on issues interesting to young people in small-town Sweden (read: interesting to me).
I knew almost from the start that I didn’t want to be a journalist, it always made me feel uncomfortable to interview people who really didn’t want to be interviewed. But I loved the writing process; coming up with an idea, doing the research, playing around with words... it was a very satisfying process. And it still is, at least to some degree. But as I have complained about before I often feel stuck in no-man's land without a language of my own.
Swedish is in many ways lost to me, at least its nuances; the very details that make a language rich and interesting. And English, well I don't believe I will ever truly grasp it in the way I would like, and I'm the first to admit that perhaps it's because I'm just too lazy. But let's face it, it's not always a very friendly or accommodating language. Take the spelling and subsequent ridiculous pronunciations of many words for instance. I feel like an idiot half the time just opening my mouth.
Take taciturn, I never remember whether the -c- is soft or hard. And what about ergot? Am I supposed to pronounce the -t- at the end or not? Segue anyone? And then there is victual, one of the worst offenders in my book.
OK, so I'm not a native speaker, but I suspect that even those of you whose first language is English must struggle at times. So, I'm going to hand it over to you. Are there words you find yourself avoiding? Or do you have any memories of making a verbal gaff in a particularly embarrassing situation? Or for those of you who are in a similar situation to me, i.e. living in another country, speaking another language; what are your stories?