What language do you speak?

Do you know what a badger is?[1] Or a ball park figure?[2] A happening time?[3] The formation?[4]

Brings me back to the question – which language do you speak? The question isn’t altogether unfounded… we can conclude that much of the on-line conversation today is conducted in English. Yet for a majority of us English is our second or third language. And I speak from experience. In spite having lived in English  for the past 20 years, it still isn’t my mother tongue and there are quirks that will never be ironed out. E.g. do you sit in the shade or shadow? one quality I’ll never get when speaking a second or third language is the relaxation I get when speaking Swedish. I sometimes get together with my Swedish friends in Paris just (only?) to speak Swedish, we can read last weeks newspaper out loud just to hear and speak Swedish and it is immensely relaxing.

Functioning in other languages than your mother tongue also cause moments of misunderstandings, unintentional and often funny, but still. For me it is very often as simple that I just don’t understand. It took me a good number of years and several raised eyebrows before I got it that when an English man says “I hear you”, he roughly means “I couldn’t care less.” For years I was convinced it meant I actually was heard – and, what more, listened to.

Today the question is even more pertinent taking into account that a 23-year-old German bike lover has more in common with a 64-year-old Chinese bike lover than the German neighbour. Well, actually it isn’t even a question of language – it’s a question of communication. But as long as we get across and we make ourselves understood is correct language of importance? Or is it a difference between “official” texts e.g. public blog posts and private chatty Skype messages? However, today when “e-reputation” is paramount is a private text ever private? Are my language quirks charming trademarks or do they make me less credible as a communication professional? Should we be so perfect in our language use that all the kinks are ironed out? Or should we all speak some kind of mushy middle-ground language version of whatever language we are communicating in without embellishments? Or not even embellishments, more like correct language. Already that I perceive correctness as embellishments shows how I’ve deteriorated.

So today when story telling is on everybody’s lips and mind the question is what language do you speak?


[1] Badger, not the wonderful character in “Wind in the Willows” but a person that use a badge to get into the office

[2] Still not certain but I think it has something to do with baseball. Like Babe Ruth. Sort of. I think.

[3] Chinglish for event. Rather sweet if you ask me.

[4] Formation is frenglish for training. Training in French is ”formation” and since the same word exists in English French often assume it means the same thing in both languages. A more educated person than  myself told me instances like these are called false friends.

One response to “What language do you speak?

  1. Michael, how would it work?

    Gilla

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