What in the name, and what in the pronunciation

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Being a non-native (and somewhat naive) English speaker I do have problems with some words and sounds on a regular basis. While I’ve trained myself to recognize “th”s versus “s”-es, sometimes those th/s swaps make me giggle.

For example for quite a while local radio was playing an add for local volunteer group Health’s Angels. “Trustworthy” female voice purred about how much good health’s angels do, yadda yadda. You guessed it, I was quite confused as to why would Hell’s Angels advertise helping grandmas on the radio. I mean first, according to all sources Texas is Bandidos country, and second, I’d think they wouldn’t need to advertise when they do something good. Cause usually you do it because you think it’s right, not because you can boast about it in some paid medium.

Only after about fourth time I’ve realized that the organization’s name was health’s, not hell’s. Whoever copy-wrote that name deserves a good set of muffling earplugs, because that person’s hearing is too good for his/her own good.

Well, and there just has to be some retirement community where one has a chance to interact with bikers. Because if anything, that shouldn’t be boring. But I digress.

Other interesting situation occurred many years ago when I had a chance to visit friend in Philadelphia and then went to NYC. Of course I couldn’t avoid the subway. After spending countless hours in Moscow subway riding to and from work, New York’s one was extra underwhelming. Dirty, gloomy, pos-apocalyptic weirdo-place, good for monster-mutants and haters of clear stop PA announcements.
I hope now there are no old subway cars left there, at that time (before 9/11) there was a mix of old and new cars. New ones were pretty much similar to ones in San Francisco or Moscow — bright, info-displays all overt the place, automatic announcer saying clearly “Next stop is Times Square”. But the old ones… bleh…

“Mffgh heghllf fuft quarsh” mumbled speaker unintelligently. “Excuse me, what did he say?”. Unfortunately the other passenger was a lady from Japan, and she also seemed to be just as shocked about weird announcement (or that someone asked her what was the next stop). Signs on station hall were not quite visible, but I did manage to get where I was going.
Funny, but that very same day, when I took a cab to another destination, local talk radio discussed in details how these new extra fancy subway cars with recordings, announcing in clear crisp voice what the stop is, are “killing the spirit of New York subway”. I suppose that sprit should have died a long time ago, because while it may make that mode of transportation unique, it adds nothing of value but grief for someone who can’t quite count the right amount of stops to get from point A to point B…

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