For the past few months I have been learning how to say “I have to tell you something, but I don’t know how,” in several languages as an ongoing performance/video/installation project. This endeavor is proving to be both challenging and rewarding. I think there is inherent failure in it, but I recite the sentences in my head frequently to keep what I’ve learned, and will take Erika’s suggestion to make an MP3 of all my instructors/collaborators saying the sentence so that I can listen to the correct pronunciations and intonations on a loop while driving. I can now say this sentence in Japanese, German, Thai, Armenian, Korean, and Spanish – although with a slight American accent. I also learned Farsi and Hebrew, but have yet to memorize them. So far even with two years of Hebrew School under my belt (although 26 years ago) that was the hardest, and perhaps a bit disappointing to realize how little I retained from Hebrew School. Or perhaps just that originally learning Hebrew with a NY accent made perfecting the Isreali accent much more difficult than I anticipated. Gil was a patient, yet serious teacher, working with me to get the sounds right, but after over an hour (and a change of videotape) we resigned to the fact that certain sounds cannot be made by everyone. Video stills from each lesson with be added as the project continues… email me if you have a language to teach and want to participate.
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