Looking at yourself through others’ eyes

29 04 2012

One of the most interesting thing I have realized while being an alien in the US is how my culture or other similar cultures are viewed and how history is interpreted differently depending on the point of view of the host culture.

It is interesting to find how others see your culture and how their and your perceptions change with knowledge and exposure to others. You are so used to your culture and your language and when you hear how other’s see it, Read the rest of this entry »

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Caught in the grips of linguistic paranoia

24 08 2008

WHAT MAKES the largest military power on earth tremble in its boots? What causes an entire nation of people – the majority of whom descended from non-English speakers – to shudder in fear? What provokes outrage at debates and town hall meetings in the current presidential campaign? Language, that’s what.

Not every language is seen as Uncle Sam’s nemesis – just the 6,911 languages that are not English. Americans often view other languages as a threat their identity – both as individuals, and as a nation. It’s for this reason that a Pennsylvanian recently stood up and told John McCain how angry it makes her to see the word entrada at the entrance to her local Lowe’s home improvement store. Barack Obama dared to suggest last month that American children should learn a language currently spoken by more people in the world than English: Spanish. Hillary Clinton even stated, albeit jokingly, that it’s time for the United States to have a multilingual president.

 

This an article I found in the Boston Globe by Nataly Kelly.  She touches in something that I have covered before, why is it that there is such a drive, mandate, to try to eliminate other languages, why is it that there is this dismissal of the need to speak other languages? why is it that people get angry when people speak other languages? Why is it that when people speak in a different language or with an accent, that is felt as a threat to “our way of life”?

Continues

Linguistic paranoia seems to have reached unprecedented levels in recent years, Read the rest of this entry »





Learning a new language

10 06 2008

So you speak English, why would you want to learn another language? 

People tell me that English is the international language and that they don’t need to learn another language. I specially hear that the US is the big superpower and that others should learn English…This is just a little tiny bit arrogant, do you think?

Granted that English is a global language and that has been at the head of globalization. But that is changing, the new face of globalization has people speaking several languages, do we want to be left behind?

I decided to learn French next, so people at work ask me why do I want to learn more languages. To me learning another language is more that just learning grammar, learning another language opens new windows in my mind. When you learn another language you learn about a different culture, how they communicate, how they think, and why do they do things the way they do. It helps you get in the mind set of other people, what if we all spoke more than one language, and were able to understand instead of fear the other one? That would be tremendous. Language communicates thoughts,  a way of life and gives us a new way to experience the world.

Why learn another language:

  • Communication, it helps you communicate with people all over the word as well as in your home town. I was so excited when I was learning Italian and started chatting on the net with Italians, that was awesome.
  • Develop an understanding of another culture and its people.
  • It might help you improve the knowledge of your own language.
  • It would give you a global perspective, the world would no longer be limited.
  • It is empowering
  • it is also good for you mind, to keep your faculties and to improve your brain activities.

Expand Your Horizons!!

Please share your experiences with other languages.

 





Alien mishaps

14 04 2008

These are a few amusing anecdotes  

 

  • My friend went to get a driver license; they asked him ‘do you want to register to vote?” He was an Alien student, he could not vote, so he thought they were asking if he wanted to register (get a license) to drive a boat. He said sure…. needless to say he won’t be voting or boating any time soon.

 

  • A girl Alien friend needed help with some packages, she asked a man at the store to help her, once he was done trying to be polite she said “I am sorry to have molested you”. The guy looked at her funny and left. She did not understand. The same word ‘molest’ in Spanish means to bother, she wanted to say “I am sorry to inconvenience you.” She was so mortified when I told her what she had actually said.

 

 

  • I met an Alien that did not like the food here at all and would not try any US food. One day she told me she had tried a dish that an Indian coworker had prepared, a dish that she loved, she praised the spices the flavor and Indian cuisine, the name of that dish was Riceroni…

 

When you have an accent most of the time, the words sound good in your head, but not when they come out of your mouth.

 

  • My mother in law has this problem when she orders tea she gets beer, when she orders beer she gets tea.

 

  • My Dad was looking to buy linens, he went to a store and again trying to be polite he said ‘can you please tell me what is the price of these shits (sheets)’ He could not understand why the lady got so upset and didn’t want to help him.

 

  • For some reason everytime I try to say soccer it comes our as sucker, I have settled to say the other football.

 

 

Never assume people don’t understand

 

  • My husband and a friend were walking down the street, a few feet behind two women, the guy were speaking Spanish, they were saying how much they liked the ladies’ ass-ets. One of the women turned around and said ‘Gracias’.

 

  • When I first  moved here I joined a conversation class. I made friends from China, Russia and Africa, my African friends spoke French, one day they were talking about me, how hot they thought I was and how much they liked my ass-ets, they assumed I did not understand; later I was giving them a ride and they forgot how to say turn right in English, so I said it in French. They looked like deer in the headlights, right before they got out of my car, one of them asked ‘do you speak French? Do you understand everything that we say?’

 

  • I used to have a coworker from Mexico, she and I would speak in Spanish most of the time. One day a guy was fixing her computer, my friend was smitten; she started talking about how cute he was and all the things she wanted to do to him, I tried to stop her, so I said ‘Luis, so how much Spanish do you know, he said ‘enough to understand all the things you guys are saying’, she disappeared until he was done and gone.

  

 

 

Lessons learned. I gave this post to a friend to review before posting, this is what he got from it: ‘Latinos and African men have the same taste for the junk in the trunk’. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 





Race-Ethnicity, can you tell who is who?

25 03 2008

These are from the Secret Asian Man…great comic strip.

Click on the image to see it larger.

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Hello I come in peace, or in pieces…?!?!?!

18 01 2008

This is my attempt to share life from the perspective of the other, that one that is not ‘one of us’, that outsider that gets your attention, sparks curiosity, can be an annoyance and even trigger fear.  The foreigner, the immigrant, the one with the accent…that’s me.

When I first moved to this country, a few years ago, I had a ‘clear image’ of what I was going to find, or so I thought!! From watching movies, TV shows and a few vacations, you think you have a good idea of what the culture is. I thought I knew enough, I could speak the language, the weather might be an issue but I was in loooooove.

Let me track back… I first came here to visit my then fiancé, now husband, and figure out if I wanted to live here. I had always liked the culture, the people, the way of life, and I wanted the seasons. Where I come from it is always summer, dry or rainy, warm or really hot. I would come and go for a while until we were finally married and it was time to stay for good.

I want to offer the view from the other side, that outsider/insider mix, mi experience as an Alien, in a new country, playing a different game and with a new set of rules. This will not be a hate fest or a love fest. I don’t want to be overly critical, although sometimes it might seem like that. There are things that I still do not understand and I would ask of you, yes you, to help me.

Please share with me your impressions and your own experiences. The one thing I have learned by moving to another country is to be open see things and myself from other perspectives.