set the scrambler to level 8

January 4th, 2007

When I listen to Dutch radio, I realize my instinctive comprehension has come some way since March. There are now quite a few words I associate reasonably well to Norwegian words, without having to check. Even the weird ge- prefix is starting to feel somewhat understandable. "heb gevonden" - "har funnet", yeah I can follow that. But there is still one major problem, the rhrhrhrh throaty 'h' the Dutch love so. It's like a scrambler. When I hear it in a sentence, in a word I don't recognize, it momentarily cuts my concentration, so for the next 200 ms after that, I miss whatever comes. Worse still, when it comes multiple times in quick succession, it might as well be klingon, I completely lose track.

What happens is that when listening in on a foreign language, I'm seeing the letters and words as they are spoken. Not visually, but my mind takes them one by one and puts them together. I can visualize the word and see the letters if I want to, but by default it's enough to just hear it and the mind will figure it out. The first step is to figure out where words end. Then it is visualizing the words and looking them up against all known words (in languages familiar). But when that rhrhrhrh sound comes into a sentence, it's like a system crash, all information is lost and for a while until the system comes back up, I'm unable to collect any data at all.

Those devious Dutch.

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2 Responses to "set the scrambler to level 8"

  1. erik says:

    "the rhrhrhrh throaty ‘h’"

    You mean the 'g'? No idea which sound you're referring to...

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm amazed and impressed you even bother trying.

  2. numerodix says:

    The answer is yes.