Friday, March 16, 2007


Linguistic Forgery

It seems that some American students were told before they came to London, not to worry about foreign languages this semester. While it is true that with some notable exceptions and superfluous U's they use the same words here as they do in the states to convey ideas, this advice was not meant soley for the UK. It seems that a numer of Amuricans are under the impression that everyone in Europe (or historyland as it is often called) now speaks English so that they can better serve the tourists and learn from our enlightened United Statesian ways of using the death penalty, fiening democracy, and using a perpetually devaluing currency. I openly scoffed at the idea when I first heard it. I've been to Paris and communicated to the natives using their alien tongue. I've been to Barcelona, where I was schooled in Spanish, a language rarely ever used in the city. And I have been confused by Catalan, which native speakers will repremand you for not understanding, but will never humble themselves to the point where they'll teach you. Yes I've been to history land, and I can attest to the reality that English is not something everyone is born speaking. There ARE other languages out there... or so I thought.

It turns out, as I found last week, it has all been a lie. A clever well thought out lie. But a lie all the same. Other languages aren't REAL, they're just a way of bilking tourists out of their money. Offended by my cultural insensitivity? Well you'll be singing another tune once I provide you with proof.

First to Greece...

At first glimps, Greek looks like a completely different language. They were even clever enough to imagine up an alien alphabet that they use to shroud the secret meanings of their text. But the Greeks got over confident. They imagined that no one would be able to crack their ingenius code (I found when I got there that I could read the Greek alphabet with ease thanks to only a few hours of study three years ago), hense they didn't bother to change much else about the words. The entire language is composed of the combination of prefixes and suffixes that anyone that scored above a 400 on their SAT's will be able to figure out. Toward the end the Greeks just got lazy. They, like the crypto-linguists, the Latins (not to be confused with the Romans who stole their language and claimed it as their own, as is the Italian way you will soon discover), end their words in declensions. All of the words in a sentense match, this makes it sound better. But while the Latins, and Ancient Greeks for that matter, specified which pronoun and tense the declensions apply to, the Greeks of the Modern era use random and often changing endings to their words thus abandoning all meaning. Of course this makes the 'language' sound exotic, but it does not convey any sort of point, which is one of the pillars upon which language should be built.

Now on to Italy...

They just weren't trying when the Italians created their cultural tongue. I'm not sure what happened on the day of the big meeting when all the representatives met to disguise their native tongues from English ears. Perhaps Italy lost her notes, or was sitting next to the window and kept getting distracted, or maybe Italy was just lazy. What I do know is that those words that Italians speak is NOT a language. As Alyssa found out, nearly 75% of their words are just Spanish said with an Italian accent. One need only affect something that sounded natural and speak Spanish and you got along fine. However, there were whole bunches of words that WERE English, but an i or an o was added as an after thought. What is the Italian word for a grown up? Adulti. It was shameful. The only TRUE Italian word we found was 'ciao', which they said insessantly, as if reminding tourists that they were in Italy. There's just one problem for anyone who knows the etymology of the word 'ciao', it comes from Venice and literally means 'our business is concluded'. So all those Italians were using their own language incorrectly. But they don't care, they just hop on their Vespas and drive off.

Now that I've exposed the secret of foreign language, I no longer feel bad about not trying in French class back at WHS. It's all BS anyways.


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