EVERYTHING RHYMES WITH DEGOW BA RONK
Thank you for publishing the excerpt of Norbert Ruebsaat’s memoir (“Loud, Unpleasant Noises,” No. 107) in which he recounts his experience as a child immigrant from Germany, hearing the strange sounds of English in elementary school. It reminded me of my own experience coming to Canada from Eastern Europe as a child. The landscape was a bit different here, the cars and houses certainly much bigger, the people dressed in brighter colours, but what really jumped out at me were the sounds of the new language I was supposed to learn. In those first few months in Canada, to me and my little sister, English sounded completely twangy, every word ended with a sound that rhymed with honk or brow; a sentence went something like: brow jebow rabow degow ba ronk de bonk fronk. When we came home from school we would speak this way to each other, laughing, mocking. And then, slowly, those sounds formed into English words, which formed into sentences, and before long we were speaking our adopted language more fluently than our native one.