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English Is My Second Language – An Essay from 2008

 

God bless the software geeks!

It has been the recent goal of my family to simplify everything we do in our life, work to be more efficient with our time and get in a little fun every day. I am thankful for the modern tools to be able to do so. It is my effort to return to the daily habit of keeping a journal which has been modernized onto the Internet as the “blog”.

Perhaps a trip down memory lane will help fill up and kick things off – As I am fascinated with languages and dialects, I hope you will enjoy this essay from back in 2008:

“English is my Second Language”

foghorn-leghorn-southern-accentAn essay on communication by Tony Rollo

English is my second language. My primary language from my childhood is a particular dialect of American Southern.

Specifically, Television English is my second language. I learned TV English as a boy mainly from listening to Walter Cronkite, Captain Kirk, Mister Spock, James West, Artimus Gordon and a bit from the cast of Rat Patrol.

This helped me greatly when I was able to visit what I was taught in government school text books to be the most civilized and advanced examples of human megalopolis as a young teen. Greater New York, Boston, Washington DC and the like.

In Boston they pwok th’ cwah and eat chowdah near the bwostn hahbah.

In New York I was told by a guy there was a boid in th’ terlut.

In DC I had no idea what the heck anyone was saying!

Language is more than just words. Language takes on a cultural edge, particularly in the South. Being an undeclared Ambassador of the South, allow me to shed some light on the subject.

The Southern English dialect is not an indicator of intelligence or the lack thereof, it is an efficient form of English. Unnecessary syllables are never used. Conservation of language to get the meaning across to the listener is a primary rule of thumb.

If I had a tomato and wanted to ask if you would like to share it with me, I would not ask “Would you like a piece of my tomato?”. I would simply ask “Mater?”. Very efficient and the most conservative of brain power and breath.

Southerners are not slow as they may seem to other parts of the nation. They are efficient so they don’t have to be so fast. That’s actually very intelligent, wouldn’t you agree?

Yep.

Southerners think before we throw it in gear. We can accept an accusation of being “laid back” about things but never lazy. We work hard and running the mouth on unecessary syllables wastes energy.

Yep.

tex_avery_meow_manEven in the measure of time we are laid back. It’s never a certain time exactly. It’s never three o’clock in the afternoon. It’s always “A ‘lil before” or “A ‘lil after” three. We never say “afternoon” either. We figure you are smart enough to know what part of the day it is at the time.

Contrast this Southern efficiency to New York City natives. If you ask the time they will give either two responses. They will just keep walking and never give any eye contact, or spend much more time ridiculing your watchless state of being and ask “Do I look like Big F’n Ben or something to you, pal?”.

In my house we speak several languages fluently. The King’s English is not one of them, but I can understand it due to many hours of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” reruns.

There is an importance in having a standard language. I completely agree with that idea. We already have a standard world language that has established itself. The “free market” of language choose the standard long ago.

Holding onto our cultural roots is a good thing. But in America we have our own mainstream culture: The American Culture. Language can unify a nation and the world while maintaining autonomy and individuality.

In South Korea for example, American TV English is taught in not only the schools, but everywhere one looks. The daily newspapers have lessons in English. The most popular morning show on FM radio is “Good Morning Pops” which is in both English and Hanguko (Korean) with hosts who discuss American English as the standard World English. They do not learn English because of America, but to be able to participate in the world forum.

Language unites. A standard language is the foundation of understanding. If a backwoods transplanted kid like me can learn standard English, then anyone can and should.

– Tony Rollo / 2008

ALL ESSAY CONTENT © Tony Rollo – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED / images excluded from copyright

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Filed Under: Tony Rollo Articles and EssaysTony Rollo Blog

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