One of my many gifts…
I consider the ability to learn languages, a tremendous gift. I for one have never been a language person, I have a hard enough time with English. My papers in high school were covered in the teacher’s red ink with comments like, *FRAG, *AWK, *R.O, and my favorite, a series of question marks, ??? I’m sure if I were in high school today the teacher would simply write, WTF?
Though I may struggle with languages, God in his goodness, did see fit to bestow on me the gift of accents. I know, it’s a good one. For people who have an IQ that falls below the line for attaining language, this is the runner-up prize. Let me illustrate just how handy this can be.
Once every two weeks a very dear man by the name of Nick Nakamura (Something tells me he won’t be reading my blog so I can use his name) comes to my house and helps me with my landscaping and garden needs. He’s incredibly talented and does beautiful work. Anyway, he’s Japanese. (Was that a FRAG?) He doesn’t speak English very well, but with my ability to do accents, I’m able to channel my inner Mr. Miyagi and we communicate splendidly. And no, I don’t ask him to “paint the fence” or “wax on,” or “wax off.” My children, who’ve witnessed some of my conversations, tell me that I also employ certain body movements. They tell me this when they come out of hiding from embarrassment. I don’t know why they think my gift is funny, I think they’re just jealous.
When I’m speaking with my southern relatives (Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas) I’m able to slow it down and incorporate “Bless her heart,” and other familiar phrases. For this I channel my inner Aunt Bee, Gomer Pyle, and Designing Women. Even though I think it confuses my southern family, since they know I grew up in New York, I believe on some level it makes our communication that much easier and it comforts them.
Don’t even start me on my New York accent. This is where my genius really shines through. I can fine tune my delivery right down to the neighborhood or borough. Long Island? Not a problem. Upstate? I can go there. Like Woody Allen’s “Zelig,” I’m able to morph my accent into those I come into close contact with.
Any style of speech, pattern, cadence, vocabulary or attitude, and I’m gonna latch on as if it was my own. (I know, another FRAG.) When I call Calcutta, I become Dr. Aziz from “A Passage to India.” It’s very helpful to the customer service person on the other end of the phone. I’m sure they’re thinking, “Oh what a relief, someone who’s fluent in Slumdog Millionaire.”
I could go on and on. As you see, it’s truly a gift, a gift that I think brings the world a little closer together. It’s a gift without borders.
*Frag=Fragment, R.O.=Run-on sentence, AWK=awkward, ???=WTF?