As a creative person with an interest in writing, music and video along with a sense of humor, I really got a kick out of something a family friend shared with me a little while back. It is a Youtube phenomenon known as “Epic Rap Battles in History” with a channel that has recorded more that one billion, yes that billion with a “b” views.
Here are two of my favorites both dealing with legendary writers.
What’s up duck?
The 40 foot tall colossal rubber duck currently floating in the rivers of Pittsburgh has taken the city and even the country by storm. After all, it’s the first time this art price has been in the United States. So, I got to thinking. Maybe it would be fun if someone could get the duck’s perspective on the whole experience. That being the case, I decided to use my own personal journalistic background along with my artsy side to create the first ever fictional interview with the world’s largest duck.
Photo by Heather McClain
Me: Hello Ducky, thanks for agreeing to do this interview.
Ducky: My pleasure.
Me: What do you think about our city of Pittsburgh?
Ducky: I love it here, this place is quacktastic.
Me: How about the reaction you’ve gotten from the locals?
Ducky: It quacks me up to see how much buzz there is about me.
Me: Did you know anything about Pittsburgh before making your way here?
Duck: I did some research and learned a lot from WQED and Rick Sebak duck-umentaries.
Me: Have you seen the local news coverage?
Ducky: A little but I mostly tune in for the feather forecast.
Me: Have you taken in any of the local culture?
Ducky: Sure, there’s a lot of fun stuff to do here. And the food is great! Of course, I’m still partial to simple old cheese and quackers.
Me: Thanks for your time and have a wonderful rest of your visit here in the steel city.
Ducky: Quack to ya later.
Native and non-Native English speakers
It has been said that English (which is my first and in all honesty except for a few courses years ago my only language) is among the most difficult to learn for non-native speakers. But there is more to it that just that. Even for native speakers, depending upon your culture and where you live, the same word or phrase can have quite a different meaning.
The basic definition refers to a highly elastic solid substance. However, when cultural slang comes into play, the meanings are quite different. In the United States, a “rubber” is a nickname for a condom. But, you walk into a pharmacy to purchase a rubber in England, you might just be out of luck. You’d be better off going to an office supply store as that a common meaning in the United Kingdom is simply an eraser.
While like the aforementioned example, this word has a basic core meaning but when cultural influences come into play things change dramatically. I once had a co-worker from India. In a conversation about sports, she commented that she had been a player in her school days. While she meant that she had been an athlete, the rest of those involved in the chat snickered a little before mentioning the American meaning – a person (usually male) who is a master manipulator when it comes to sexually seducing others.
Quite simply, when either writing or speaking, the same word in the same language can hold an entirely strange connotation for one man in say America and another in Europe or Asia. So watch your mouth, before you speak.