That’s Life

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LifeWatching TV is not my favourite past-time, although of course, I watch it sometimes. I can watch German TV (via satellite) if I choose to. Comparing German TV with British TV can be very interesting.


Often, news programmes have completely different priorities in their presentations. The inclusion of English words in modern German seems to increase week by week, and the pronunciation is generally quite good.


However, the word ‘live’ is often mispronounced, so I thought I would use this blog to try to help you with this little, complex matter. The first problem is the pronunciation of the letter ‘v’ in ‘live’.’v’ needs to be pronounced with the help of the vocal chords in the throat. If this help it not used, the word becomes ‘life’, where ‘f’ needs nothing from the throat. OK so far? There are two different basic meanings of the word ‘live’. The one you most often hear, is that which concerns having an electric/electronic current. For TV it means that it is ‘now’ and not recorded, i.e. the current is live. The letter ‘i’ in  this meaning, is pronounced as the word ‘I’, e.g. I enjoy good wine. Remember, the ‘v’ is voiced. The other meaning of the same word e.g. I live in Oxford. Here, the ‘v’ is also voiced, but the letter ‘i’ is pronounced like the ‘i’ in the word ‘if’. Again, may I remind you that the ‘v’ is  voiced.


Now, let’s look at that other very similar word – ‘life’. In this word, ‘f’ is not voice, as for example the ‘f’ in the word ‘fast’. Here is an example of the meaning of ‘life’; life in the USA is different from life in Europe. The following is an example of how you could use these words in one sentence, each having a different meaning: He was a lively man, who lived all his life in the Alps; his livelihood was cheese-making. Oh dear! Have I confused you? I hope not. Above all, try to concentrate on the different pronunciations of ‘v’ and ‘f’, even if they are pronounced differently in your own language.


Try not to translate, but speak instinctively in English. Try! At the risk of further confusion, I include the word ‘liver’, which has no connection with the foregoing. The liver is an internal organ of the animal body. Sorry about that extra word! Again: ‘v’ with voice, ‘f’ without voice. Who said that the English language was uncomplicated! But, practice makes perfect, especially if you practice with inlingua.