It’s hard to be witty and funny when you live in a country that speaks a language you don’t. I have spoken many different languages in my lifetime. My first language was Boston. I understood that one had to paaac your caaar in Havaaad Yaaaad. I guess I also knew some Yiddish from my Jewish heritage. My father’s mother, like all my grandparents, came from ‘the old country’ and never learned how to read and write English. She spoke a mixture of English and Yiddish, kind of like my English/Spanish conglomeration. My father’s faaatha died shortly after I was born, so I have no bio on him. I was strictly told not to ask about the ‘old country’, so I didn’t which is hard to believe since I am nosy and want to know everything about everyone.
My birth name is Barbara Jane Cooper. However with a Boston accent it becomes Baaaabra, you know kind of like the baaaa of a sheep. To make matters worse was the coming of the Baaabie Doll and the questions like ‘how come you have dark curly hair when the Baaabie doll has long straight blond hair? Without going into an ethnic rambling, I just blushed and turned away.
When I met my husband after moving to San Diego with my college roommate, Cindy, I had to become acquainted with the language of motorcycles. However this language was never to be spoken to any of my conservative family members. Talks of gearing, fairings and pipes was indeed a new language, one which I still speak today.
After we got married and moved to Kauai, Hawaii in 1978 for Greg’s job as director of the Olu Pua Botanic Garden, I got to learn Pidgen . Pidgin is a combination of English, Hawaiian and Japanese etc. It is characterized not so much by the words themselves as the cadence and pitch of the spoken language. Most sentences are shortened: Like go? VS would you like to go now? Signs on stores flip from OPEN to CLOSE. All older females are called Auntie and the males Uncle. This also applies to my favorite language: food. Poke, sashimi, plate lunch, spam musubi, saimen, haupia etc.
Next onto North Carolina where I had to learn Southern. Any word can be strung out for at least 3 syllables. Of course there is the ever present Y’all and grits and hush puppies. I also tried to one interpret the word cealls. I assumed it was sails, but come to find out it was about cells, you know terrorists cells. When speaking to a hog farmer from Clinton, I had to smile and nod because I could not interpret hog farmer lingo.
On to Pittsburgh and the language of Yinz. The Pittsburgh version of y’all. And of course the cookie tables. What is a cookie table you may ask? A table filled with a large assortment of cookies served at a wedding. More important than the cake. Family members bake and freeze for weeks ahead of time and try to outdo each other. The other is the combined language of Steelers, Penguins and Pirates!
I’m not sure of the bloopers I have said here in Costa Rica because I can’t understand anyone’s reply. I do know they speak a language of love, friendship and joy. What more could you ask for in a language?