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Do You Speak California English?

Updated on February 21, 2012

English is one of the most difficult languages to learn as a second language. The language has many oddities and contradictions that make non-English speakers quite frustrated. Like with any language, pronunciation is critical. English has many foreign words that can be identical looking in writing yet pronounced totally different and have different meanings. English is at odds with most other languages of the world in regards to structure, use, and rules.

If that was not difficult enough, places like California, Arizona and such have been influenced by the Spanish language mostly in pronunciation of words that originated in Mexico or South America and have been adapted for English speakers. However, unless you are from one of these states where Spanish is influential, odds are good that you, as an American, will not pronounce many words correctly when visiting California. If you are a English as a second language speaker, it will be even more likely. You might pronounce the word correctly, yet not be understood because you said it too fast or your native accent is much too heavy for American ears. I was speaking to a co-worker from India and while he spoke fine English, he spoke it so damn fast, it sounded like a foreign language until I asked him to slow it down. Of course, people from Scotland and Ireland can also be difficult to understand due to the heavy accent. Same true of those from NY, NJ.

California English applies when you come to inherently Spanish words in origin. Many times, the way they look in spelling is not how you pronounce them. For example, adobe. Many will just say "a-dobe", when it is: "ah-doh-be". Or, Vallejo ( a name of a city), if you are not from California you might say, "valley-ho", when it should be, "va-lay-ho". The huge city of San Jose, IT capital, is often mispronounced by non-Californians, as: "san josie", when it is "san-ho-say". The famous wine area of Sonoma, many times mispronounced "sono-ma" or "son-oma", when it is "so-no-ma". Also, because English and Spanish cultures have become so intertwined, many businesses will use known Spanish words for food dishes like, taco (spoken "tah-co") or burrito (bur-ree-toe) or chalupa (cha-lu-pah) instead of trying to translate them into English. I mean, everyone knows what they are unless you are not from around here.

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    • perrya profile image
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      perrya 5 years ago

      Well, English is critical in the world of international business, which is why in many European countries and in China, schools teach it.

    • profile image

      soumentheanimater 5 years ago

      English is not a critical language. Sometime it creates problems if you have other language tone, according to place, but in spite of that its nice way to speak.

      http://www.prowessweb.in/

    • kschang profile image

      kschang 5 years ago from San Francisco, CA, USA

      Well, as in all debates, there's a bit of doubt. :)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_burrito

      Wikipedia claims the ORIGINAL burrito was invented in El Paso, TX.

    • perrya profile image
      Author

      perrya 5 years ago

      Had no idea. invented in SF? hard to believe.

    • kschang profile image

      kschang 5 years ago from San Francisco, CA, USA

      You do realize that burrito is not Mexican, right? :) It's invented in San Francisco. Don't say burrito in Mexico. It means "little donkey" and no one would know what you're talking about. :D

    • perrya profile image
      Author

      perrya 5 years ago

      Interesting!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      You've picked up a uniquely American trend in language. I lived in Washington State for a while and folks would ask me if I was from Oklahoma bacause I sounded like I was from the South. Yes to the South, but Georgia sounds very different from OK. In fact, Atlanta sounds different from Macon, which sounds different from Savannah. It's been said one of the easiest ways to tell where a person is from is ask them what they call soft drinks. Amazingly accurate!