Teaking in Spongues
I owe my existence to migration, so I'm a fan.
From potatoes to pine trees, monoculture is neither robust nor interesting.
I think Australia is lucky in its multiculturalism.
That said, I'd like to talk language.
Being of Mexican-American and Native American descent, Anjelah Johnson is well placed to do social commentary.
Millions have seen her nail salon routine (see below) an indication that it may ring true.
I'm interested in the last 15 seconds.
My wife says this certainly meshes with her experience. And our multilingual friend once scared the crap out of a rude nail technician by retorting in her language.
When Winston Churchill escaped from a Boer prison, his comrades told him in Latin when the coast was clear.
When I studied Indonesian at school, my colleagues enjoyed insulting other kids without their comprehension.
Words can be weapons.
So when dealing with suppliers I don't understand, I wonder what's being said.
For instance, when Chinese cleaners call back and forth across office spaces, are they saying:
'How nice of that chap to lift his chair!'
'These filthy copywriters can't even get a damn banana in a bin!'
Excellent reasons for using one’s native tongue could include:
1. Immigration is too recent for English to be strong.
2. English is infernally difficult to learn at the best of times.
3. Conversing with compatriots is the sole solace in a rotten job.
4. In some contexts (like a French restaurant) it’s expected.
To give speakers the benefit of my doubt, I assume all the above (and more).
Yet when these reasons don’t seem to apply, I find speaking in tongues distracting, disconcerting and even offensive.
Especially when it’s loud, constant, done in front of me and accompanied by gestures of aggression or disgust.
And particularly when speakers have demonstrated that they can use English if they wish.
So is this my problem, or theirs?
This is obviously a sensitive subject.
And I’ll brook no intolerance.
Yet I reckon it’s worth discussing.
Does a preference for English in business make me a racist client or a reasonable person?
Speak now, or forever hold your
- The Feisty Empire
Paul Hassing's high-end blogging, copywriting, editing and proofreading services website.