Tag Archives: world

I do not understand you

Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a universal language everyone could speak?

I think speaking a language not many people know is a big advantage. I speak Dutch and can fairly safely talk about my secrets when I’m abroad without anyone understanding me. This is also what two women thought that I encountered in New York. I was browsing through the department of fancy dresses in my┬ánot so fancy backpacker clothes. Two posh old Dutch women felt like they had to discuss what a disgrace it was that people like me were in the same place as they were. They didn’t once think that I might be Dutch too and could hear every word, so when they were finished I politely wished them a good afternoon in Dutch.

I speak English well and this comes very close to a universal language. You can find your way around in many countries using English. However, if you want a deeper conversation I find I often get stuck and find myself trying to explain words or phrases to others. There are so many idioms I use that others have never heard of. I guess to them it would be like me speaking French. I know the basic grammar and can look up words in a dictionary, but sayings and idioms would be a mystery to me.

Living in Europe can give you a good base for understanding languages. Many come from Latin and Greek and are very similar. Therefore, even if I don’t speak Spanish or Swedish, I can read and recognise words because I know them from another language. This makes navigating through a city a bit easier. It becomes a lot harder when they letters change. Think about Russian, Mandarin or even modern Greek. If you can’t even recognise the letters, you can never guess what a word means.

I guess I’d like to wake up one day and speak Arabic. The language just looks so pretty and curly. I think this would open up a big part of the world for me, a world I know very little about. Having to learn it would be a big pain in the ass, but if somehow I suddenly understood Arabic, I’d go to Oman, Egypt or Jordan to practise and who knows… I might make a career out of it.

Once again I was inpired by the daily prompt.