Weekly Writing Challenge: A Manner of Speaking

‘You should go to Bandung.’
‘How do you go there?’

‘With travel.’
‘…with what?’

‘No, I’m asking you HOW to go there.’

That was how the conversation went with my friend and my boss the other night. Sounds weird? Sounds like the answer is not answering the question? Where the hell is Bandung?! Either you let that one slide or be smart and Google it up.

People keep saying that language is not a barrier.
I agree, but let’s face the fact that it’s not totally NOT a barrier (you get what I’m saying? No? It’s because English is not my mother tongue. See my point here? No? Okay).

You can tell the odd one out in the conversation mentioned.

Travel, according to the dictionary in my Mac widget, is:

travel |ˈtravəl|
verb ( -eled -eling ; also chiefly Brit. -elled, -elling [ intrans. ] make a journey, typically of some length or abroad
noun the action of traveling, typically abroad

In a manner of speaking, the word “travel” in where I live could mean another thing: a shuttle.

There’s this kind of shuttle that travels from Jakarta to Bandung and vice versa (3 to 4-hour distance), and in here we call those shuttles “travel”. As in the English word, “travel”.

My foreign boss whose mother tongue is English (and Chinese) might think we didn’t get what he asked, but truth is it’s a matter of slang words. We’ve gotten used to calling that shuttle “travel”, sometimes we forget its real meaning. So nobody’s really at fault here.

So language is not really a barrier. In where I work, it has its own value of entertainment to:

  1. watch some friends gaping at the higher-ups when they speak their language (half-expecting to see a floating subtitle under their faces)
  2. watch my bosses pretend to understand and laugh along when my friends and I are joking in our language

We’re fun people, really, and we’re having a good time learning one word at a time, so… no problem here.

Tony Stark, if you existed somewhere out there, do invent something like a subtitle-generating program that we can use. Solve the Babel Tower problem.

There are a lot of slangs we tend to use that we’re not aware of until someone else come along and goes “Huh?” – and the amount of such words keep increasing. This only proves that the only constant thing in life is change. Now the question is would you rather stick to the old lingo to sound classy, or follow the trend even when you know it’s not completely right?


2 thoughts on “Weekly Writing Challenge: A Manner of Speaking

  1. Great observation about language. Doctor Who has a translation circuit built into his Tardis so if you’re his companion, you can understand any language in this galaxy and beyond.
    I love Tolkien, btw. :)

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