(I’m now off adventuring beyond the reach of wireless. So here’s a post I wrote early-early on. I’m getting a tad more used to things now …)
The first thing you notice about furriners is that they speak Furrin. (Never mind that I’m now the furriner; don’t Americans always think of themselves as the center of the universe?)
I’m not opposed to speaking Furrin. I’ve tried to learn to do it myself, twice. One time, I managed to get two years’ worth of straight As, become a tutor to several of my own classmates — and still never was able to speak the language in question, though I could grope my way through reading, writing, and mumbling a few words of it. (But even all these years later, should you happen to need a verb conjugated, I’m your girl.)
My particular problem right now is this: The dominant form of Furrin spoken here is a close cousin to the Furrin I once tried so hard to learn. And every time I have to say, “Please,” “Thank you,” “Where’s the bus depot?” or “Yes, we really are relieved to have gotten rid of George W. Bush, and you’re welcome to take Obama off our hands if you think he’s so hot,” what little I can manage tends to come out in the other language.
Which sounds just enough like the local lingo to make everybody think I’m hideously fracturing their native tongue. Which leads them to assume, quite politely, that I’m an idiot. Which may not be far from the mark.
Since they can also clearly detect my US-ian accent, I hope they’ll at least give me credit for trying, in this world where most Americans are notoriously lacking in any variety of Furrin.
Shortly, my friend Lorri and I will be headed into the wilds, where most people speak a language so obscure that no phrasebooks or CDs teach a word of it. Communicating with gestures and smiles, I’ll probably appear more intelligent. At least I hope so.