The world is becoming a global village. No more so than on planet money where aliens of many continents visit every day. Coming from a small country like the Netherlands you learn very early on that people within an hour’s car drive speak a different language. If you want to play with the other children on the French or German camping site, you have to learn. English and German came to me easier than French though. I do struggle daily with communication and it was a huge influence in the story line of Language in the blood. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could just bite someone like Cameron does and absorb the language of that person perfectly?
Wishful thinking and I don’t think I’m the only one. At work we speak combined; English, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, German, Dutch, Italian, Japanese and some very bad French. My French colleagues, who are in the minority, must cringe sometimes at the weird language we concoct to communicate with each other. The other day my colleague described a bird as an aggressive pigeon as she couldn’t think of the word for eagle. This makes Planet money a fun place too, you have a giggle and you absorb each others cultures and languages by struggling on together. It might take a bit longer than Cameron’s method but slowly, very slowly, I’m absorbing. I do now know some pleasantries in the all the above languages.
The reason it took me so long to write my first book (I’m in my 40’s) is partly due to my teachers. Like Cameron I wasn’t particularly academically gifted and I found it hard to concentrate. I did like to write stories, but my humorless teachers never gave me any feedback on my writings, I just got handed back a paper covered in red correction marks and a concerned look; why can’t this child spell? I just gave up on writing. I chose to go into vocational training at 16 and everyone agreed that making jewellery was a better outlet for my creativity.
Now with the help of a computer with a spell checker, thicker skin and a very helpful editor, I had another stab at writing. Feedback has been great so far and I just received a four star review, but I know my book isn’t a work of literature; it wasn’t meant to be, If I raise a smile I’ll be happy. Language is a way to communicate; if it does more it’s a bonus. To teachers I would like to say: don’t get your knickers in a twist, there is more to language than spelling and grammar and never let any one stop you from expressing yourself.