Why is it so hard to recognize the names of streets, places, dishes etc in a foreign language?

Hi guys, how’s it going?

It’s been almost two years now since I started to really learn English. Up until now, the most difficult part is to make out words like the name of places, dishes, streets, personal names etc…
They all seem to be so unclear when I hear them for the first time.

I’d like to hear more about you guys. Does it happen to you too? if so, why do you think it’s so hard?

What do you mean? What examples do you find confusing?

Well for dishes, it can be confusing I can see. American foods (figuring this is what you’re talking about) is a blend of many cultures so we tend to blend words from different languages. And a lot of it is slang.

Chicken n’ fries. What kind of chicken? What the heck is frie? In this context, chicken n’ fries means deep fried chicken (n’ being short and slang for and) and fries are just fried potatoes. Just like in Spanish, I think they say papas fritas.

Also, we even use French words in recipes. “Cook pasta until al dente.” I think it’s French for firm?

Sure, the names are not clear from the context :wink:

I am terrible with names of dishes, people’s names and place names. Food can be very local which is a problem, and you may not always see it written down. Also compared to basic vocabulary you lack exposure to these words so they are both very important and very odd to your ears. The same can be true of numbers. Worst of all in most cases it is difficult to work things out from context - you either hear it and know it, or you don’t.

Maybe try and find out the story behind the word. For example (in my case) if a street in Quito is called 6 de diciembre, go and find out what happened on the 6th of December in Quito. Or if (in English) the city is called Sheffield, find out what the “Shef” is (the river sheaf). Every name has a story to tell.

Hi ! =)) ‘Al dente’ sounds VERY much like like Latin, or its much more modernized version, i.e. Italian! =))) If I’m not mistaken, it literally shall mean ‘up until dense’, I deliberately chose the most closely related word in English! =))) And as for ‘fries’ it’s very easy to explain; ‘to fry’ is nearly the same as to ‘roast’ with a slightly different spelling, though! :wink:

Hi! =))) But it’s just normal, no matter what language! :wink:

Names of places are predominantly with a historic background, hence, even most of the locals do not have any idea where it’s originated from! :wink:

As for the names of dishes, it’s even more entangled most of the times, as the dish itself may be originated from a different part of the world altogether! =)))

Well… it seems that I’m not the only one then! :smiley:

I mean, to make out words as we listen to it (not by reading). The name of a place, street, dish and so on…

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Hi ! =))) You’re surely right! =)))

I’m already so much used to, say, a British, knowing that his surname has a sort of historically-grounded spelling, even after I have tried to pronounce it echoing him first saying it, will surely say, “Yes, and it’s spelled as…” and there goes such an absolutely unexpected letter sequence, that you involuntarily raise your eyes and he would add, “Well, that’s exactly the reason I spelled it as well for you.” :wink:

As for dishes’ names, just as I said before, needless to say, it’s even more entangled due to obvious reasons! :wink:

Ah, quite an off-topic: Just re-called, we in Russian also scratch our head when we hear quite a rare surname, even more so, when it’s not typical for the area we are in, “Eh, what??? May I ask that you pronounce it once again, please?” :wink:

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