Linguistic Largesse

So today is Pam's (my boss here in AR and in worcester for that matter) birthday. She is turning 60 though I think she would be mad if I told you that. We had a meeting this morning at which she seemed awfully depressed about the whole thing. She has some of her family up and invited us (well we think she did...but thats another story) to her house tonight for some sort of festivities. Anyways, this afternoon her postdocs here Siva (his real name is awfully long and hard to pronounce) and Chunzhao Liu or "Lou" went to kroger to buy her a birthday cake. We took my car because I'm the only one that drives and they were talking about all kinds of things. I could recognize that the language they were speaking was english but it wasn't my english. It seems that these two have learned to speak in such a way that they understand each other perfectly well whereas I, the only native english speaker, rarely understand stand things the first time around. I wonder if overseas they teach another brand of English that isn't the English i know and love. All foreign graduate students coming to both WPI and ASU are required to pass the TOEFL, or test of english as a foreign language. I guess I always just assumed that English as a foreign language meant my english. Perhaps instead of taking french in high school I should have taken English as a foreign language. I imagine that its like ebonics, that is a language with english roots but its own language none the less that those outside the culture can hardly understand. I think next week I will go try and find some ESL audio tapes to familiarize myself with this new dialect. In other news, I will get a nice long car ride with both Siva and Lou this weekend as we drive 8 hours to Indianapolis for a conference. I would like to be able to practice my new mandarin chinese vocabulary with Lou so in the car today i attempted to say in Mandarin that I speak a little chinese and he responded with "I don't know any cantonese." Not so good for my linguistic confidence...though he eventually got what I was saying when he listened closer. Guess I need to work on the pronunciation a bit. Anyways, Patrick OUT!

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