Tagged with language

Father: A rock ban.
Little boy: A whot?
Father: A rock band-d iza grup zat plays toge-ther.
Little boy: Ah, ah, yes, I know.

— Overheard in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont
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I dao know

We were walking through the local market, surveying all the curing pork, vegetables and fruit yesterday when we came across a woman selling the freshest greens we'd seen. She had huge Chinese scallions, all manner of bitter green, lettuces, gourds, cucumbers, etc. She approached us and made a sweeping gesture of her goods to indicate we should buy. We responded that we couldn't cook. She chuckled, shaking her head, and then said something. View Post »

Our goals this week: understand the difference between hai (nasalized) and hai (not nasalized), ta (dental unaspirated), ta (retroflex unaspirated), tha and tha, da and da, dha and dha, and so on. It's amazing how almost completely unrecognizable differences to a western-trained ear can be critical phonemic distinctions to someone else's.

Bucks? What is bucks? You mentioned this on the first day we met. I went home, and I was confused. I thought, 'What is bucks?'

— Our teacher Sanjay, regarding our request to find a Hindi book.
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I don't remember the last time I saw red ink!

Oh, the different sounds we make

In the first few weeks of being in Mumbai, we walked around saying Dhanyavad and Shukriya all the time. We'd get responses anywhere from a flurry of giggles to blank stares. Gracious people (or those used to Brits and other westerners) would respond with "Yaur Velcam." We also used, in greeting, the only other Hindi word we knew: Namaste. To which people would generally respond with "Halo" and "Bai" depending.

It wasn't until we started taking Hindi classes that it finally dawned on us that it wasn't our terrible pronunciation, but that our uses were completely inappropriate. In English, our Hindi teacher has not once said "Please," "Thank you" or any other such pleasantries. During our classes, he says "that's completely wrong," and "that's exactly right," respectively. When he wants ... View Post »

(Namaste. Mai Anjali hoon.) We finished our second Hindi class on Friday with our professor, Sanjay, who's family owns a nearby school. While we were aiming for conversational, he's assured us it's important to master the letters. So far we've memorized the main letters (he taught a core 36), vowels, learned how to pronounce them, and then learned ways of joining them together. So while we didn't expect to memorize the syllabary in four days, you never can tell with language, can ya? In our mind, it's been helpful, as reliance on romanized characters would have been confusing when we learning the pronunciation. More on all of this Hindi stuff later.

One of the reasons we are living in different cultures is to understand how they are changing. Ever-increasing access to media, consumer goods, and the internet is homogenizing certain aspects of different cultures, especially for the younger generations. Language and communication is a great example. This photo is from a funny article in today's Times of India describing "Teenglish" or "slanguage", the lingo-laden vocabularies of Indian kids and their parents' and teachers' utter befuddlement. How about a crash course? Some of the examples obviously come from American media or the internet, e.g. ATM, bromance, tranny, emo, cheddar, wired. Some seem distinctly Indian, e.g. iFinger: "a finger kept clean for the purpose of managing touch-screen devices." (relevant in a culture that loves ... View Post »

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Best food phrase to know in Thailand. I am "allergic to MSG."

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We visited Hua Hin on our way down to Ko Tao. It's about a 3 hour ride from Bangkok. Our guidebooks made it out as a summer getaway for the Royal Family and Bangkok's elite, but we found it to be an old fishing village converted heavily (and only in the past 5 years) into targeting European grey hairs. According to a local we met the fisherman are none too pleased but the town continues to expand.

Of course, there were a few well-targeted Western restaurants with some good fresh veg and also a gaggle of ladyboys (Thailand's cross-dressing men) spilling out of the bars not a stone's throw from where all these grey hairs were enjoying their pasta. So it made for some good people-watching.

But the beach was a wreck of restaurants and high-end hotel chains. The flood waters have also ... View Post »