If I Could Change One Thing…
This is probably another throw-away post. The change I’m thinking of would have to be the Azerbaijani phonetic pronunciation of “hello.” This is an opportunity for development that has not be seized by Peace Corps Volunteers in the seven years we’ve been here. It’s an easy fix, and the prospective change would ease the lives of every foreigner here. It sounds a little petty, but it’s true.
Walking down any street or alleyway or through a yard generally involves being noticed by school-aged children who want to hurl a “hello” at you. And by hurl, I really mean that it feels like they are flinging it at you. In Azeri, you pronounce every letter in the word. While our hello has a cadence that could be pleasant through the lips of a native speaker, Azeri phonetics dictate that the speaker hang onto that L a little too long. What comes out is something like heylllo, where the O comes at you short and quick, like the speaker pulled back on the L as though rearing back on a slingshot, releasing the O at you and hitting you square in the head. It’s not the kids’ fault. They get taught to hurl the “Hel-lo.”
Luckily, I think there’s an easy fix. All it requires is removal of one of those L’s. Maybe something like “He-Lo” or “Hel-o” could work. OR, we could go nuclear and try to convert everyone to saying, “Hi,” instead. This is my call to foreigners in Azerbaijan to stand up for change, my call more a pleasant “hello.”