Someone like us

About 100 years ago it was chic to speak French in Romania. You belonged then to the elite. It meant you were part of the aristocracy, who could afford education – and in most cases education abroad, in France usually. Mixing French words in your everyday speech was seen as natural – but I wrote about switching languages in my last post.

Today I read the news and remember a famous Romanian story. There was a lady who would have liked to pass as an aristocrat so she mixed French words in her speech, but unfortunately she did not really know French, and she was not really educated. At lunch-time for example she calls the fork “forketion” in dubious French.

When the laughter is gone one can wonder at the unfailing tendency of the human  mind to start from its own small world and try to adjust the rest of the universe to those familiar patterns.

Whenever “words don’t come easy” we fall back on the resources of our own language, or of other languages we know, and try to construct something in the new language that might hopefully work.

I’m a regular player of Farmville on Facebook. They’ve recently launched the possibility for players to start a second farm, in the so-called English countryside. Well, it probably won’t be surprising to see that players design their second farms just like their original ones. There’s a huge patch of farming land, and on the sides there are outhouses and animals and trees lined up.

But it’s much worse in the news. Prominent people on our planet “welcome” the movement of certain populations towards democracy – that is, towards our own, Western, democracy. As if we were sitting on a higher branch and we were in a position to welcome the others finally clambering upwards to us.

The endless universe the physicists try so hard to discover is reduced, by proportion, to a prison cell. So I can’t really say like some singer that “I’m a big big girl in a big big world”… perhaps more like “I’m a big girl (I hope) in a small world”.