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Worldwide Ace » That’s Just How I Roll

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That’s Just How I Roll

23 March, 2009 (09:40) | Random

eva-mendes-rolling-rs
Actress Eva Mendes rolls her Rs.

In the American school system, students are usually given the choice of French or Spanish when it comes time to take a language. I know in the Denver area German is an option, but not in Boston. Seeing as I had been indoctrinated to French—my mom grew up in Switzerland and has a Bachelor’s in French—it was the obvious choice. Now I kind of regret it.

I’ve learned a little bit of Spanish, but I rarely get to use my French. If I had learned Spanish, I’d be able to throw it around left and right. Instead, most of the Spanish I learned was learned from working in a kitchen.

I learned how to swear, how to call someone’s mother names. I spent two months calling cabbage “repollo” because I had asked one of the Latino workers what that shredded red lettuce stuff was. I learned some of the basic things, like admitting my friends are crazy or asking for a bathroom, both invaluable expressions.

But I never learned to roll my Rs properly.

In Spanish, they roll their Rs with the tip of their tongue, a maneuver which explains why every woman wants a Latin lover. In French, they roll with the back of their tongue. It’s surprisingly similar to the way the throaty “ch” sound is made in Hebrew, phlegm wiggling free and scraping the throat like a Tennessee washboard.

I can roll my Rs Francophonically until I’m breathless and blue in the face, my tongue oscillating like high frequency wave. I like to think of it as a gift. In a way, it grants me super powers.

I can mimic cats’ meows closely enough to unnerve humans and taunt dogs. It’s not exact enough to actually converse with a cat, but it’s close enough to get their attention. Hell, I can even purr.

I can make engine sound effects for hours, shifting when I need to grab a breath. For all intents and purposes, I’m a mobile Formula 1 radio broadcast waiting to happen.

The effect stymies my friends and causes hours of consternation when people try to mimic or copy it. I can’t explain why it works, but I truly believe I owe the strange stupid human trick to my years of French.

Of course, rolling my Rs Spanish style would be much more useful (not to mention helpful in attracting the opposite sex). But the tip of my tongue is about as static as the boom on a sailboat instead of as nimble as the sail itself. No matter how hard I try, I can’t get the tip of my tongue roll Castilian style.

It’s not really that important in the grand scheme of things, but rolling my Rs is just one aspect of mouth tricks that extend to beat boxing and all sorts of oral goodness.

Really, I should be proud I can do something many others can’t. After all, it’s simply how I’m built. And in the end, that’s just how I roll.

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  • TheOldBear

    It's amazing that after spending your formative years in Boston that you can pronounce the letter R at all.

    Didn't your mahtha and fahtha teach you anything? And after all the time you spent hanging around Hahvahd Squaya.

    I recommend that you listen to the Radio Boston podcast “Got an Accent?” here.

  • Not only does Denver Public Schools teach German, they used to have the world’s coolest German class. In the early nineties, the local cable company needed some public good will, so they gave all of the classrooms free cable and internet. There was also a shortage of German teachers around, so some guy decided to use that free cable to create Tele Deutsch. The best part of the deal was TCI didn’t know how to make sure only one place got specific content, so anyone could turn on channel 22 and watch this. It never went beyond first year, but it was one of the best shows on TV at the time. And it was so successful, that they kicked him off for Spanish and chemistry classes. (Which weren’t nearly as good.) Things got so bad, he won a Wesword “Best of” award for leaving town.

    http://www.mygermanclass.com/

  • Not only does Denver Public Schools teach German, they used to have the world’s coolest German class. In the early nineties, the local cable company needed some public good will, so they gave all of the classrooms free cable and internet. There was also a shortage of German teachers around, so some guy decided to use that free cable to create Tele Deutsch. The best part of the deal was TCI didn’t know how to make sure only one place got specific content, so anyone could turn on channel 22 and watch this. It never went beyond first year, but it was one of the best shows on TV at the time. And it was so successful, that they kicked him off for Spanish and chemistry classes. (Which weren’t nearly as good.) Things got so bad, he won a Wesword “Best of” award for leaving town.

    http://www.mygermanclass.com/