As anyone who even remotely follows this blog knows, our whole existence is essentially related to the arts. However, in the wake of the intense and tragic storm now devastating parts of the East Coast of the United States, I thought it appropriate to step away form the usual topics for a moment.
This horrible storm is likely to be the worst hurricane ever to hit the United States and is expected to effect more than 80 million people – that’s about one quarter of the country’s population.
As I watch the news this morning, I see far too many flooded streets and even more than 50 homes in New York City up in flames.
In our everyday lives, we often get complacent about things. We worry and complain about little things like the battery life of our cell phones or having to wait an extra five minutes in backed up traffic. It isn’t until something like this occurs that we stop to put things into perspective.
Keep the victims of Hurricane Sandy in your thoughts and prayers.
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.