Native speakers of English have no difficulty in hearing and making the difference between the FLEECE vowel and the KIT vowel. We effortlessly distinguish green from grin, reed from rid, and reach from rich. But anyone who has been in contact with NNSs knows that for many EFL learners this distinction can be very problematic. For most people from southern Europe, and from many other parts of the world too, English iː and ɪ both sound like versions of the i of their own language. They find it really difficult to hear any difference between them, and even more difficult to consistently make the difference when speaking English.
It’s not for nothing that in the US spick is a derogatory term for ‘Hispanic’.
It is interesting that the potential confusion can extend into written English. You’d think that even if hearing the difference is difficult, nevertheless seeing it and spelling it would be straightforward. The letters in G-R-E-E-N look different from those in G-R-I-N. But there is plenty of evidence that people get the spellings of such minimal pairs confused, too. Sometimes it can lead to awkward or embarrassing results. This, from the Engrish website, was the frontage of a hotel in Jurmala, Latvia. With this name, you might take it for an up-market brothel.I’m glad to say that they have now corrected it. This is from the hotel’s current website.
An unrelated point of linguistic interest: on the website, the hotel gives its address with the street name in Latvian (in the Latin script), as 23 Jūras iela, but the name of the town in Russian (Cyrillic), as Юрмала. Presumably most of their clientele consists of Russians, who wouldn’t notice the difference between a bitch and a beach anyhow.
Even so, why don’t they get their English checked?
The unique location in the dune area lets You enjoy peaceful relax... Be sure, that Your day can have different taste, if You wake up with a sunrise at the sea shore and breathe in fresh pine-wood aroma, walking along sandy beach!