Monday, August 29, 2005

Cross-cultural exchange

During the break of one of my lessons, I was listening to a conversation between my friend, a Vietnamese and a guy, a Brazilian.

Friend (F): Can I ask you some questions about Spanish?
Guy (G): Sure. I only know a little bit though.

Then F proceeded to ask G about the niceties of the language. I simply had to interject when they paused for an interval between pronouncing “Hola”s, “Ola”s and “Buenas noches”s.

Jllt (to F): Why are you asking all these?! I would be interested in the vulgarities!
G: Yeah! Me too! Let’s learn some vulgarities.

And so we did. Isn’t it strange how you can struggle with the foreign greetings while cursing comes so easily? After some exchanges of the primary and mild swearwords in Mandarin and Spanish (“Hijueputa!!!”), M, a Japanese joined in.

M (to me): Hey! I want to ask you a question.
Jllt: Yep?

I nearly fell off my chair and when I composed myself, I realized no one around me lifted a brow at his question. I felt a sense of empowerment: I can swear in class now and no one will know what I’ve just said! So I went on in our very interesting cross-cultural exchange to explain to them what cb, lj and knnbccb all means. But I noticed that M’s brows were furrowed.

Jllt (to M): Eh! What’s wrong?
M: Now I know why Chinese look at me strangely when I tell them I came from Chiba, Japan.

I share his pain.


Injenue said...

any place called lan cheow?? heh..

bsjj said...


Adrian said...