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Posts Tagged ‘language’

The Orlando Sentinel used to run a human interest series. I think it was called something like “Knock on Any Door.” They would do just that and talk to whomever answered. The theory was that every person has a story and they would find one behind any door, and they did. I don’t knock on strange doors but do encounter amazing stories just talking to strangers when I am out and about. This morning I “knocked on the right door.”

I needed a courtesy ride when I dropped by car off for service. The driver was a trim man with white hair, but young countenance. I detected only the slightest accent, the kind you aren’t quite sure is there, but I had to ask. Not “Where are you from?” but “Do you speak another language?” No one has ever seemed offended by the latter question, as they can be by the first. His answer was that he emigrated from the Czech Republic in 1972 after the Russians invaded.

As a young teen had taught himself perfect English mostly by talking with Americans and listening to news on TV. “The news,” he said, “because generally the speech was more precise.” He learned to say many words before he knew the meaning.

I had come in contact with many non-English speakers when I worked for ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) at the local school board and talked with foreign language teachers. He reinforced what they said: total immersion is quickest way to learn another language. The driver immersed himself in the new language until he now speaks better than many native borns.

This was admirable enough, but then I learned he actually left the Czech Republic in 1968 and fled to Austria. You guessed it; he learned German and spoke that language for four years before coming to America and beginning anew.

There are many lessons here, I think, but on a human level I am totally in awe of one who devotes himself to becoming a part of the country in which he chooses to live. My guess is the driver is immersed not only in our language, but our culture. I’m glad I asked that simple question. Wonder what I would find if I started knocking on doors. . .

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Like belly button lint, I have no idea how these thoughts collected, but this is cleaning day.

The sound of a word doesn’t always reflect its meaning.  Mildew was always said softly, lovingly by an old friend. She liked the way it rolled off her tongue and thought the unfortunate connotation a shame. I think of her when I hear light, sweet crude. But fun words are my favorites.  Is there a more entertaining word to say than  onomatopoeia? And then there’s tarmac and rejigger, which is probably not a word, but says a lot. Isn’t that what words are supposed to do?

Did you ever run into an old acquaintance in the grocery aisle and you greet each other like long lost friends.?Then you don’t know what to do when you meet again and again on subsequent aisles?

I heard a good term the other day, linguistic barrios, describing areas where a language other than the host country is spoken.

Do you know some people who have standards so high only they can meet them?

We have a new navigator with choices for (a) most toll road use (b) shortest route (c) fastest route. No where can I choose (d) all right turns.

I’m waiting for someone to invent a motorized treadmill. It would putz around allowing you to enjoy the neighborhood sites while you worked out. Don’t laugh. My husband is working on a helium bra.

What is with those high-rise desks school boards, councilmen, etc. sit behind? Do they think they look like Abe Lincoln up there? We know the intent is to intimidate; we just don’t like it. I’m giving judges a pass. They represent the law while those other jokers popping out of a Jack in the Box represent you and me. Come on down!

I’d like all the personal-habit nannies out there to lay off. If I saved all the money I spend on lattes each year and invested it at 5% at the end of the year I’d have — zero. And while we’re at it, the number of calories I’d save by skipping the chocolate each day is –what do we have here?—zero again.

Gerontocracy is another favorite word, meaning, of course, government based on rule by elders. I understand France is fast becoming just that. They do seem to be thinking more rationally lately.

This from Neal Boortz: How do you have a fire museum? Doesn’t the fire go out? Maybe it’s an “old flames” exhibit.

Two South American brothers are the last  people on earth who speak a dying language, and they don’t like each other and don’t speak. I am guessing we won’t have to “press 3” for that language.

Would someone tell our Persian Emma she is supposed to let us sleep? It’s professional courtesy.

“The windows throbbed,” the young man said, describing the tornado. I don’t know about you, but I like that. Colorful descriptions by witnesses are rare, but worth listening for.

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