On Fridays at work from 12-1 and 1-2 the student-run organization I helped found last year meets. I’ve written about Foreign And Native Speakers (FANS) before; in sum, students come together to talk, sometimes in groups as large as 25 and sometimes split into smaller groups of 4-5. There are students from all over the world, representing multiple fluency levels and cultures/languages — the United States, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Nigeria, Egypt, Iran, Japan, China, South Korea, Bangladesh, India, Taiwan, and more.
Today’s the last day before spring break, so a lot of students are already out of town. But still, even on a Friday, even for an extracurricular activity most of them attend strictly because of personal desire, we had both meetings today. And even after the last meeting ended, three students stayed after for over an hour while we talked about the similarities and differences in the cultural vagaries and linguistic wowsers between Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Russian, English, and Spanish, as well as what distinguishes modern Chinese written characters from traditional ones, how the Chinese characters influence other Asian languages, and what separates American dialects from one another. For example, take the sentence below:
“Come here. I want to talk to you.”
In upstate New York, phonetically, you’d pronounce that:
Cum heer. Eye wont too tok too yoo.
On Long Island, it’s:
Cum ee. Eye wonnah tawk to ya.
The picture above is from the early stage of our conversation; by the end, there was barely an inch of white space left. And every few minutes I wondered Are they getting antsy? Do they want to leave and start their vacation? And they kept excitedly taking the marker from each other and branching into some new tangent.
I love what I do.