Skip to content

| ðə ˈraɪtɪŋ z ɒn ðə wɔːl |

ˈaɪ əm ən ˈeɪliən huː krɒst ðə siː tə lænd ɒn ðɪs ɡriːn ənd ˈpleznt lænd |
ˈlaɪk ə bɜːd əˈtræktɪd tə njuː klaɪmz |
əˈtræktɪd baɪ jə ˈlæŋɡwɪdʒ |
ˈaɪ keɪm hɪə tə lɜːn ɪt |
ˈaɪ keɪm hɪər ənd ˈaɪ ˈstʌdɪd ˈɪŋɡlɪʃ |
bɪˈɡɪnə |
ˌɪntəˈmiːdɪət |
ədˈvɑːnst |
prəˈfɪʃnt |
 
| ˈaɪ ˈstrʌɡl̩d wɪð jə <diphtongs> | jə <triphtongs> | wɪð ʃiːp ɔː ʃɪp | wɪð laɪv ɔː liːv |
fər ə waɪl ˈaɪ wəz lɒst | ʌnˈeɪbl̩ tu ˌʌndəˈstænd ðə njuːz | tə lɑːf wɪð ju | ʌnˈeɪbl̩ tə ˈmeɪk sens əv ðə pʌb ˈtʃætəz |
fər ə fjuː ˈjiəz nɒt ˈeɪbl̩ tə spiːk ət ðə spiːd əv maɪ ˈθɔːts |
fəˈɡetɪŋ ðə vəˈkæbjʊləri əv maɪ |
 
| əv maɪ ˈneɪtɪv tʌŋ waɪlst nɒt ˈnəʊɪŋ ði ˈɪŋɡlɪʃ ˈwɜːd |
dʒəst əˈbaʊt ˈɡetɪŋ baɪ | ˈwɜːkɪŋ ˈsləʊli ət ɪt | ˈsəʊ ˈpeɪnfəli sləʊ |
ˈriːdɪŋ wɪð ə ˈdɪkʃənri baɪ maɪ saɪd |
ˈstɒpɪŋ | ˈsɜːtʃɪŋ ˈevri ˈwɜːdz ˈaɪ dɪd nɒt ˌʌndəˈstænd |
 
| əˈfreɪd tə spiːk |
tə ˈmeɪk ə mɪˈsteɪk |
ə mɑːk əv ˌdɪsrɪˈspekt |
laɪv ɔː liːv |
 
| ˈaɪ dɪˈskʌvəd jə ˈlɪmərɪk | jə ˈsʌtl̩ prɪˈzent pəˈfekt | jə sens əv ˈhjuːmə | jə ˈkɒmpleks ˈstrʌktʃə ˈsentənsɪz | jə ˈfreɪzl̩ vɜːbz |
ðə mɔːr ˈaɪ ˌʌndəˈstʊd ˈɪŋɡlɪʃ ðə mɔːr ˈaɪ lɜːnd əˈbaʊt <engand> | əˈbaʊt ˈɡreɪt ˈbrɪtn̩ |
 
| ə ˈkʌntri ðət fə ˈmeni ˈ ɪz ə ˈpleɪs sɪˈnɒnɪməs wɪð ˈdʒʌstɪs | lɔː | dɪˈmɒkrəsi | ˌedʒʊˈkeɪʃn̩ | ˈtɒlərəns | ˈbetə ˈwɜːk |
ðæts waɪ ˈðeɪ krɒst ðə siː |
wi | ˈeɪliənz | ə nəʊ ˈkʊkuːz | nɒt hɪə tə stiːl ə nest |
nəʊ ˈmæɡpaɪz | nɒt hɪə tə stiːl jə ˈrɪtʃɪz |
 
| wi həd ˈaʊə sɒŋz tə jə dʌsk ˈkɔːrəs |
This text is my response to a commission for the Black Board Project – Hatch Nottingham.
Reading the phonetic text above is the perfect metaphor for what it is to be a foreigner learning a second language.
Incomprehensible at first glance, it reveals itself the more we try, the more we shape the words in our mouth, the more we speak it.
So much effort…
The Writing is on the Wall
 
I am an alien who crossed the sea to land on this green and pleasant land
Like a bird attracted to new climes
Attracted by your language
I came here to learn it
I came here and I studied English
Beginner
Intermediate
Advanced
Proficient
 
I struggled with your diphtongs, your triphtongs, with sheep or ship, with live or leave,
For a while I was lost, unable to understand the news, to laugh with you, unable to make sense of the pub chatters,
For a few years not able to speak at the speed of my thoughts
Forgetting the vocabulary of my native tongue whilst not knowing the english word
Just about getting by, working slowly at it, so painfully slow
Reading with a dictionary by my side
Stopping, searching every words I did not understand
Afraid to speak,
To make a mistake
A mark of disrespect
Live or leave?
I discovered your limerick, your subtle present perfect, your sense of humour, your complex structure sentences, your phrasal verbs
The more I understood english the more I learned about Engand, about Great Britain
A country that for many is a place synonymous with justice, law, democracy, education, tolerance, better work
That’s why they crossed the sea 
We, aliens, are no cuckoos, not here to steal a nest,
No magpies, not here to steal your riches
 
We add our songs to your dusk chorus.