The City Wanderer : Frustrations of a non-native learner: the hidden layers of language

【明報專訊】Every language has its own nuances (細微差別) that are obvious to mother-tongue speakers but leave the rest of the world bewildered and frustrated. Cantonese, my tonal mother tongue, challenges speakers to be pitch-perfect in their pronunciation - something that most non-native speakers find hard to master and, after a while, happily dismiss as an "adjunct" of the language. The burden of understanding then falls on native listeners, who, in their innate comfort with the language, may find such mistakes incomprehensible and silly at times.