Lost in pronunciation


In few hours, I’m about to live my worst moment since I’m in Morocco. A man is coming to join us for the remaining days and I’m in trouble with him. Though he is a nice, clever, quiet man, I can’t bear a detail about him. In Iowa City, I had some nice chats with the guy. We have a conversation in progress about San Francisco, it would be sweet to finish it. However there is, you know, this detail. His name is Hugh. I have basically no problem with any Hugh in the world. One of them called Hefner educates millions of people in the world through pedagogic pictures. Another one is the nasty Dr House that everybody loves to hate. Wolverine, a hero of my youth, is related to a Hugh. Actually, there is one Hugh that I hardly support – Grant – because his trend to play the same roles in the same romantic comedies is boring. However, it has nothing to do with my Hugh.

Any French reader who tries do say “how are you, Hugh?” knows what I’m talking bout. For us, “you”, “Hugh” is exactly the same. But not or an American. Neither for a Slovenian. Nor for an Indonesian… Actually, everybody here can pronounce correctly” Hugh”. Everybody but me. We are French ,”bordel”, we are right and they are all wrong!

The nice Kelly tried to train me for the crucial moment.

– Say view.

– View.

– Then Hugh.

– You.

– No, Hugh.

– Youuuuu.

– Hugh.

– Youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu.

It didn’t work out and I was driving my tutor crazy.

– Let’s ty another word: loo.

– Loo.

– Now Hugh.

– Only youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu.

The impossibility of a “Hugh” not sounding like a “you” appeared clearly to my French mind. English is a demoniac language made of unbearable “ouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu”. Kelly told me I should change the way I stretched my lips. And as a miracle, once out of ten times, i could pronounce a word sounding like a vague “Hugh”. The problem was I was looking like somebody wanting to kiss someone. I have a great respect for Hugh, I give him a lot of credit for his intelligence and his talent, but man I neither want to kiss you nor even looking like somebody trying to kiss you.

As his arrival is getting closer, I’m more and more nervous. I might try to avoid him for the rest of the trip but we are a small group, it will be difficult. Once I’m in front of him, I will look like Brad David passing drugs in Turkey in Alan Parker’s movie “Midnight Express”. I swear I have no drug, you honor, I’m just terrorized by a name. Would some judge believe me in a court? In France maybe. Anyway, if I can’t succeed in avoiding Hugh, I found a solution. No guys, I won’t say “How are you Hugh, do you want to go to the loo to see the view?” Just gonna launch a splendid “What’s up Mister Ferrer?” and I won’t have any problem with you…ahem Hugh.


3 Responses to “Lost in pronunciation”

  1. kobi Says:

    Yay, finally payback for dessus, dessous!!!

    Hugh is relatively easy, though. Your problem is not with the “ü” sound, it’s with the H. Instead of starting out with a rhyming word, practice exhaling with an open throat. I would have liked to have seen a photo of you trying to say it, though. Or maybe one of you kissing Hugh!

  2. Mani Rao Says:

    HHHilarious. I thought of you trying to say HAHAHAAHA, and instead …

    Know what Valmiki (when he was a thief) did because he could not say “Rama” (because too divine a word for a thief to utter). He said Mara-mara-mara-mara (without the pauses, ie).

    Taking a clue from Valmiki: try AHA. try WHEW.


    That anecdote of the attackers was worrisome.

    Hello to Eddin if he remembers me.

    I pored over your narrative as I go to Jerusalem in July…

    • mabrouckrachedi Says:

      Hello Mani, glad to hear from you! Your name is so easy to pronounce, you’re absolutely perfect. Of coursem I hate you because you’re going to Jerusalem whereas I couldn’t owing to the ash cloud…

      I’m much better at saying Mister Ferrer’s name. Check this: Hugh!

      I’m going send your greetings to Eddin. Sure he remembers you. Who wouldn’t?

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