Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Language Observations #2


Taking a cab home (especially at 4 a.m. after a long day at my money-makin' job, GRE and working on layout at the Brooklyn Rail) is always difficult because, like I mentioned before, drivers don't really know where 85th Road is, nevertheless Briarwood. I usually say it's Jamaica and off of Queens Boulevard.

The driver asked me my address and he called in to his dispatch. In Spanish, he asked "Donde esta ciento curanta y uno?" In my sleeping haze, I heard this and corrected him. A.P. Spanish comes in handy sometimes.

(I do want to re-learn Spanish, along with all of the other things I want to do.)


Rob's daughter, Claire, has a Bengali babysitter. For the weekends, Rob gets people he knows to watch Claire. Last weekend, that was me. Because she knows I'm Bengali, she asked, "Can you speak Bengali?"

"I understand it a lot and I can speak a little bit," I told her. She tried to think of something she wanted me to say.

"Can you say 'come here'?" she asked, fitting with her bossy nature.

I know I hear that phrase all the time, but at that moment, it flew out of my head. Right now, it's hard for me to recall it. I'm so used to it, I don't think twice about what I hear—it's equated to English for me.

(Phonetically, it's ekenhe aaso.)


My sister recently started watching Indian movies and listening to Indian and Bengali songs. One day, she asked me how to say "love" in Bengali. I knew I didn't know how to say it, so I said no and asked if she knew. She said she knew now because of a song—bhalobashi. Puzzled as to why we didn't know how to say such a simple word, we asked our dad. He just shrugged and smiled.

1 comment:

赵晨威 said...

I like these last posts!

They're touching and fun. I mean, Burma coverage was aight', but as an American liberal I prefer to hear about love and quaint stories about multi-culturalism.