Sounds, Observations

If I think about the languages I hear on a daily basis at college, I  think it would be broken down roughly like this:

English 92-98%

Spanish 3-5%

Russian 0.5-2%

Mandarin 0.1-0.2%

Indian Languages (?) 0.01%   [I wish I could identify them]

+German, French, Portuguese, random others <0.01%

Most of the mental phrases that occur repeatedly throughout my internal monologue have to do with either a political, philosophical, or sociological issue, but sometimes there are those that just have to do with the simple observations that I make (and I figure other people make too) on a daily basis, such as “We talk like the people we talk with.” So with that in mind, there’s a whole range of speech that doesn’t necessarily fit into a language category, like Spanglish, or dialects of English.

I guess it’s a result of growing up in a mostly homogeneous white middle class neighborhood that I’m afflicted with the blessing and curse of being fascinated by other peoples and cultures. This is despite wanting a more homogeneous Europe in some abstract sense with no immediately explicable reasons for why. (What I mean is that I can easily articulate the intellectual arguments, but it’s always a more difficult process to psychoanalyze oneself and find out why one arrives at a particular argument, and how that argument ends up being a rationalization for some ego-boosting myths).

I used to favor the seals, sharks, and other sea-dwellers when going to the zoo. So sometimes when I hear people talking using sounds I’m not used to, I listen for a moment, favoring them over American English. Am I treating them like zoo animals when I do this? I suppose I don’t really care to be frank, but I think the answer is no, because once I get used to those new sounds, their uniqueness wears off, and I can start absorbing them in a  way that’s closer to how native speakers interpret them.

In our politically correct world, people sometimes criticize you for ‘fetishizing’ other cultures by mimicking them in some way. But isn’t it natural for people, children or adults, to be surprised or fascinated by someone or something unusual, and then tell others about it? Isn’t it natural to be attracted to a form of music, dress, speech, or body language, and then imitate it if we feel it expresses ourselves better? If enough people like something and feel their souls gravitating towards it, it’s going to become an expression of what they are as a tribe. What they are comes first, and then their behaviors follow.

 

 

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