Friday, October 17, 2014

How Many Languages do You Know?

I have mentioned before that each of my daughters speaks another language besides their native tongue, English. Let me clarify, Eldest speaks Spanish; Middlest speaks Latin (and is learning Spanish); and Littlest speaks French.

I must clarify further. Because these are young people, heading quickly into young adulthood, they are also quite fluent in the modern dialect of Mumble. For those not familiar with that dialect, let me explain. Young people are accustomed to speed: On every corner there is opportunity for fast food; access to the internet is at speeds of over 10 Mbps (I remember my brother demonstrating his first modem at a whopping 300 bps, that could barely keep up with what he typed.); and it is normal for high school students to take a number of Advanced Placement classes, so that when they graduate from high school, they already have college credit. (Eldest started her college career with a year’s worth of college credit.)

In order to keep up with this frenetic pace, young people have developed the dialect of Mumble, or as it is scientifically known, Speedglish, as opposed to my native tongue, which is apparently Sloenglish. The basic structure of Mumble is to truncate as many words as possible and to string them together into one fast paced word. An example might be, “Nahbraugodidalwrngudunderstan.” In regular English or Sloenglish that short burst of noise would be, “No brother, you have it all wrong; you do not understand.”

Do you understand? I hope so, because the concept evades me.

Having daughters fluent in Mumble was handy a couple of summers ago when we were flying from one coast of the United States to the other coast. As I was passing through the TSA check point, I found out quickly that TSA does not stand for “Totally Stinking Awesome”. A TSA agent issued a direction to me in Mumble. I responded politely, “Excuse me?” One of my daughters, seeing the awkward social situation I was in, translated for me, “Dad, he wants you to take your glasses off the top of your head and put them on right.”

I was glad for the translation, but baffled as to the reason. I mentioned to the kind TSA agent, “They are simply for reading.” He was insistent that the security of someone was dependent on my wearing my reading glasses while trying to walk through the security checkpoint. So, I lowered the glasses to the tip of my nose, arched my eyebrow and peered over the top of my glasses (everyone hates that) and asked, “Izdizbetterbro?”

He gurgled, “Yah”.

My daughter scolded me, “Dad, stop it, you are not doing it right.”

And I replied in the only real Speedglish I know, “Fuggedaboutit.”