Monday, April 02, 2007

Mysterious Dimensionless Points

Polyps update: mysterious brooding.

Mysterious cause of camera refusal to download photos to laptop: assumed mysterious battery.

Imagine some pictures of snow here - I was in the mountains when I wasn't stuck in the portakabin or the smallest hotel room in the world (very clean, but mysteriously kettle-, drawer- night-table- and electric-socket-less).

The most mysterious thing, however, about the recent jaunts abroad is what has happened to my default foreign leungwidge. The DFL is the massacred version of an otherwise innocent and inoffensive foreign-to-the-speaker language that pops out in the absence of any decent command of whatever local language might be. It often bears absolutely no resemblence to the actual language you should be speaking, unless by doing so it can cause insult to the local person with whom you are attempting to converse (badly).

The DFL may be accentuated by the atrocious and yet irresistable urge to mime if doing so will cause acute humiliation. These days, however, it is only rarely the speaker's own native language spoken Clearly. And. Distinctly. In. A. Loud. Voice. With. Odd. Em.Pha.Sis. Or. A. Funny. Accent. Normally, it's whatever language you studied least and worst or most recently quite badly. It should not be confused with those foreign languages which a person speaks with any degree of fluency. Oh no. Far be it that you should be confused with a reasonably articulate speaker of anything apart from helpless grunting noises that never quite sound the same no matter how hard you try.

Nor, however should the DFL should be confused with those bits of language you pick up while abroad ("Do not flush/use the toilet while the train is standing in the station", "Do not feed the monkeys children - they bite"), watching films in smoky arts cinemas, or reading those books where the mysterious, foreign, tycoon hero peppers his speech with exotic endearments, curses and the odd (ungrammatical/mispelled/or both) sentence in his mother tongue. ("Efharisto!", "Querida!", "Avec les roberts comme ça, ta rhumba est exceptionnelle" and, "Non credevo che 'impotente' volesse dire 'non può divertirsi'", my darling.)

Anyhow, over the last few months, my default foreign longwidge has now become Czech. Heaven and Mrs. Jana both know I can barely manage a word or two in Czechland, but it seems that distance has an effect rather like that of half-a-bottle of Becherovka. My Czech actually gets more fluent the further away I am from the country where my mangled efforts would be most useful.

Those poor Italians hardly knew what hit them, what with my volley of "Prosím"s and "Promiňte"s as I hurdled through the Milan metro and fervently embraced the whole of the south-Tyrolean train network with a deathless passion.

Of course, now that I'm back in Czechland, 3 whole days of being indoctrinated into the vagaries of Italian (can't speak it, can follow some, thanks to french, music and a whiff of distant latin) by Our Mutual Friend and boyfriend, means that I'm now apologising and thanking people in dreadful Italian. Probably just long enough to annoy the bilingual flatmate of Sicilian extraction.


Suisan said...

Oh dear, my dear.

I'm sure it will all come out all right in the wash. (Or some such comforting phrase...)

EvilAuntiePeril said...

thank you for the words of consolation suisan... i think i'm heading back to czech via latin, if that's possible.