Language Barrier

As I sit here waiting for my class to begin, behind me is a group of Middle-Eastern girls jabbering and taking pictures and giggling. There is something that always intrigues me about other cultures in America… they mix their language amongst each other. The group that is still taking pictures is speaking in a dialect I don’t understand, but will occasionally throw in some English phrases, that still mean nothing to me in the unknown context in which it is being used.

What is it that makes other cultures do this?

I only have theories, not answers. Where I live, there is a high concentration of a Middle Eastern ethnic group. From what I have been told, they come here to America to be trained as doctors (or in this case computer professionals) and either go back to the home country, or stay here.

Case-in-point, I work with a Pakistani man named Adeel, Adeel is 100% fluent in English and is easy to understand, even though he does have an accent. Adeel came to this country at a very young age and ended up making it on his own. His parents are thousands of miles away and he was able to get a job, put himself through college, now owns a car (and I believe a house), and has a wife.  Adeel still speaks and reads Urdu, the language native to his area. I am familiar a bit with the culture since I know someone else who speaks it.

I ask Adeel frequently about his homeland and the answers always surprise me. I once asked him if he thinks in English, or Urdu.

He told me that he actually thinks and dreams in English! I was shocked because most people think and at least dream in their first language. He’s been living here so long it’s actually effected his internal voice. He has also told me that he sometimes wants to throw in English phrases when talking to his parents (who as I mentioned still live back in Pakistan).

I have a fascination with people from other countries because of how radically different they do things. For instance, we have seamen that come into the store in a regular basis and they are sometimes from Asia, Russia, etc. They speak very broken  English and always want to negotiate. 

“I buy two laptops… get one… two hundred dollars?”

That’s why I get upset when someone says something derogatory about someone from another country. You would look equally as dumb if you went to a foreign country and tried to something they aren’t familiar with. You would look like a jackass and they would laugh at you, and in some cases, put you in jail.

Another example, the philosophy on nudity in other countries and profanity on the television. Words are words, and seeing other people naked is not a big deal. You want to see a naked person, you can do that anytime you want. 

According to a resident that lived where I do, there was a Middle Eastern guy who didn’t use a shower curtain, he would shower and would flood the bathroom and he would just have a bucket and mop and just mop up what he could. Things are different in other parts of the world, you have to learn to not be surprised and except some things. I’m not saying that ridiculous stuff is excusable just because people are from different descents, I’m saying that harmless weird stuff shouldn’t be scrutinized because you don’t understand it.

Tonight I work  with Adeel, and I look forward to him baffling me with the language he reads. I would link to the exact paper he reads, but I can’t remember it.

However this will do.

 

Cheers, 

Michael

One Response to Language Barrier

  1. rbelmont000 says:

    Excellent article man, your best yet, I’d say.

    There really isn’t a lot of racial differences down here, it’s mainly white people, peppered with a few blacks and one or two asian. Kind of unfortunate.

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