top of page


That is the wildflower I used to be able to pronounce until I heard comedian Russell Peters pronounce it as "Dan-di-lee-un". You hear that once and it settles in a part of the brain that will be the last to die. It now takes herculean effort for me to pronounce it correctly. In fact, I get so confused when I see it in our yard, that I resort to "weed" to avoid getting tongue-tied.

That leads me to all the words I had to unlearn and relearn when I came to the US. In India, we don't emphasize syllables of English words because that is not a thing we do with our native tongues. No, in Bengali we don't stop to pause on multi-syllable words. I can't explain why. It is simply how it is. As a result, we have often heard our Caucasian friends say, "You speak so fast." No we don't speak fast, we speak just like you, except we don't stop to emphasize.

So we say "inventry" instead of "in-VEN-tory" and "hereditry" instead of "he-RE-di-tory" and "laboratry" instead of "lab-RA-tory". So much time wasted to say all of those syllables. When we wanted to assimilate, we had to unlearn our way of speaking and learn a new way.

Yet, I continue to protest "labratory". It. Makes. No. Sense.

The family joke is that I can't say "Guantanamo" properly without flicking my head at a weird angle when I get to the "ta". Seriously! Try saying it without flicking your head. Can't, right? If I am feeling self-conscious I say, "Gitmo".

When I hear a non-native English speaker, I am incredibly accommodating. It's not easy. No matter how much I try, dandileeun is bound to pop out when I least expect it. It's painfully embarrassing.

And then, we went to Ireland.

We rented a car and as we chugged out of the parking lot, steering wheel on the right and driving on the left, the navigation instructed us in Gaelic. What?! With our brains on fire and adrenaline pumping, we pulled over and reset the language on the navigation device to our favorite: 'Mercan.

As we toured the Trinity College campus, I came across this sign. I would have walked right across the lawn without the translation.

So for now, when you ná gabh ar na faichí, led'thoil, please admire the dandelions in my faichí.

bottom of page