It's been rattling around in my head since then, and it keeps bothering me. I can't hear the difference. I can barely even think the difference, without concentrating hard. The difference between "eg" and "aig" is a phonetic blind spot for me. Why is this?
So, I thought about it some more. I can distinguish between "et" and "ait". "Met" and "mate" are different words. Okay, maybe it's because the "ai" vowel combination ends with the back of the tongue closer to the top of the mouth, and a "g" sound closes there. But no, I can tell the difference between "ek" and "aik", and the K does the same thing the G does. "Mech" and "make" are different.
But I can't tell the difference between - um. Hmm. I can't think of any pairs of words for my syllables. "Vague" and "veg", but no, because "veg" is pronounced "vehj", though maybe not in England? "egg" and "leg" and "peg" and "Meg" and "beg" don't have "aig" equivalents. Is that it? When I was little, I never learned any words that made me have to tell those two sounds apart, and now I can't? That's how it's supposed to work.
But it's driving me crazy. I walk down the street muttering "tweg... twaig... tweg... twaig... to myself" and I'm probably getting funny looks. Is it just me? Can everyone else hear those two syllables clearly? (And if you can, do you know any matching pairs of words?)