News - December 15, 2010

Cocktail English

Last Saturday, I had a nice dinner with some friends from Canton and Taiwan. We had a Taiwanese-style dish called 'rice cake with the miscellany of vegetables'. Lekker! ^_^

Cooked rice cake with mixed vegetables of Taiwanese style
After dinner, time to fiddle-faddle. I have to be frank: it was a one-man-three-girls chat. If you understand how different Mars's language is from Venus's, then you can imagine how I looked like at that time. But suddenly they talked about me. Me?! 'Derek, we just can't understand what you say,' they said, 'it's not only in English but also Chinese.'

That's a huge blow to me. I just could not deny now my English is kind of Cocktail English mixed with British, American, Italian, Dutch, French and Cantonese. Maybe standard American English is easier for them. BUT my question is: what's wrong with my words?

Then on the following night, one friend asked me for some articles about creativity. Thanks to him, I found back an article in my Chinese Facebook. To my surprise, a paragraph in it solved my confusion. My expression problem is due to that I'm in a plateau phase of language learning. Paul Bach-y-Rita, a neuroscientist, explains that the most critical step in language learning is for the brain to perceive the impulses as a representation of the surrounding environment constantly for at least 6 months. Too hard to read? Let me use another guy's words: 'we are born "citizens of the world" with regard to language, but by the end of 1 st year of life, our ability to attend to sounds from foreign languages greatly diminishes then become "language specialists".'

It's a shame to hear that I had lost my talent on language before one year old. However, isn't it a great inspiration as well? As long as I keep learning Dutch, finally my rusted language-zone in my brain will run again. I never doubt it. I was surprised when I could guess the meaning of the words written on the label on a bottle of Gl├╝hwein. 'het verwarmt u van binnen als het buiten koud is.' Sounds like a poem, as a self-award to me.

I was told that when you chat with a Dutch, you can do nothing more than keep saying 'ja...ja...jar...' But with some Sisyphean spirit, I hope someday I can do something more than 'Ja' or 'Nee'. I hope some Cocktail Dutch can I speak, at least.

Tot volgende woensdag! ^_^

Video of the week
A French short clip called 'Accro - C'est rigolo mais c'est salaud. ', which means 'addict, it's funny but it's SOB'... (Sorry for my French)... One thousand eyes, one thousand Hamlet. I detected a touch of sarcasm in it. Anyway, c'est la vie! Keep trying!