‘painball’ – extreme sport?

Paintball has been around for some time now. I’ve seen it advertised alongside other adventure sports but have never been tempted, although I have heard that at close range the capsules containing the ‘paint’ (water soluble dye), can actually sting on impact.

What was interesting, however, was to come across this Spanish company that had no qualms about advertising the chances of getting hurt while participating. Or is the ‘Pain Ball’ in the fourth line of the ad because they are reaching out to alpha males and a more masochistic market niche?

painball - multiaventuraA more likely (boring) explanation could be that the owners Multiaventura Sierra Algairen have written what they heard, the /t/ in ‘paintball’ being elided in colloquial speech. It’s an interesting possibility, and it isn’t the first time that I’ve seen written forms ‘corrupted’ by L2 users of English trusting their ears. Nor is this adventure sport company alone in relying on the acoustic signal. On the internet I came across the same mistake from a car accessories company in South America.

painball cochesOf course, if the /t/ elides out, then the final /n/ is subject to assimilation, and because of the following bilabial /b/, this will be to /m/. If this is the case, though, ‘Why don’t we see paim ball?’ you’re all asking. Well, today I did as I was overtaking an articulated lorry on my way home. I’d have loved to have taken a photograph to put HERE, but it didn’t seem a wise thing to do at 100km/hour, so you’re going to have to take my word for it.

The incident did get me thinking though, because OK, in all three instances there is clear evidence of very limited English. But there is also very good evidence of people’s ears being far better at listening than we sometimes believe as their teachers. So in terms of the classroom, perhaps we need to encourage our learners to listen carefully to short bits of spoken English and then tell us what they heard. Also, if we can come across examples of elision and assimilation like those above, but in adverts and signs from our learners’ own country or L1 background, then we have a very nice way of introducing students to the concepts of elision and assimilation.