In Moldova Russian speakers (speakers of Romanian too but it is less pronounced) pronounce the middle sound in "big" and "meek" in the same way. It is definitely not the sound that is in "big", it is closer to "meek" but just a bit shorter. The same goes for "bed" and "bad" (pronounced exactly the same and somewhere in between the two but closer to "bed") and "coke" and "cock", both are pronounced as "cock". So I have this conversation regularly here:
- Whoa, I am hot and I need some cock! And a big one. Do you want cock?
- No, thanks.
- Who wants cock? You? One? Big or small? You? Big cock for you? OK.
- Bjorn, why you never want cock? You don't like cock?
- No, I don't.
One of our British volunteers became really good friends with a local volunteer here and the guys are very close. So the Brit tried to teach the local guy to say "coke" properly but the local guy always forgets and does "cock" again. He says that it is weird to have two different "o"s and that an "o" is an "o" so there. The Brit makes fun of him a lot though. We were in the capital and the Brit went to McDonalds to get some food for us because we didn't have time for lunch and had to drive up north asap. His local friend, who also was with us, ordered a Big Mac and "a small cock" of course. When the Brit returned with our orders he gave his friend his Big Mac:
- Here is your Big Mac mate, small cock you already have.
- Where? No, I don't have cock. You haven't given cock to me yet.
This also happens with Singlish in Singapore of course (but Moldovans do the "coke/cock" pair much better):
Also, locals who only saw my name written and never heard it pronounced before meeting me (happens sometimes when our new volunteers are given their welcome packs on the evening of their arrival ahead of the welcome workshop in the morning) often pronounce the "j" in Bjorn as in "jam" but even more pronounced Russian style (followed by a long "o" and a really hard Russian "rrrrrrr") when they address me for the first time which cracks everyone up. Bzhooooorrrrrn!