learn the natives’ language & you can do no wrong


IF MY eyes and ears could do a double-take, they would.  But you can only be totally surprised once, and everything else that follows is just confirmation.

Pasensya na sa punto ng Tagalog ko, Pilipina kasi ang asawa ko.  Matagal kami sa Pilipinas, pero hindi ko maalis ang punto ng Kiwi, said the Kiwi volunteer who delivered the aparador (closet) that we bought over the weekend from the Salvation Army store.

[ Sorry for the belated translation of the above : excuse my faux Tagalog accent, (I can speak Tagalog because) my wife is Filipina.  We stayed a while in your country, but I couldn’t do anything about the Kiwi accent, pretty good if you ask me. 🙂 ]

He didn’t stop there.  Not waiting for my reply, he said nung nabasa ko yung family name mo sa delivery list, alam ko nang Pinoy ka, pero di ako sigurado.  Pero ngayon sigurado na ako he grinned, and I just had to call my flatmate’s wife.

[ spontaneous translation again : when I came across your surname on the delivery list, I knew you were a Pinoy, but I wasn’t sure.  Now I am. How can you not be flattered by that? ]

Malou, kausapin mo sya, talo pa nya tayo sa Tagalog, and of course Mr Kiwi Volunteer proudly continued with his conversational Tagalog, which reminded us of back home as much as fishballs, kikiam and the slivers of meat we like to call tuhog-tuhog.

His facility in our mother tongue was brought about as much by an intention to settle long-term back home as his love for his wife, and everything about her, including culture, cuisine, and of course, language.

It certainly warms the heart to know that even as we Pinoys love to learn other languages, other races take the time to learn our own.

Then there are people who’ve taken a liking to singing Tagalog songs, like the one above.  It seems cute and entertaining, until you realize the time and effort spent by the artist to just learn the words, and then actually interpret the song in a way that is familiar and heart-warming.

The last example I have of connecting with people through their language is from our adopted country’s very own Hayley Westenra, a popular singer.  She took the time to learn just one song (there could be more) in her Taiwanese hosts’ Mandarin, and naturally brought the house down :

If you want to build instant rapport with the natives whenever you visit overseas, just try speaking, or even better, singing in their language.  You may stutter at first, but you’ll soon realize that, as long as you try, it doesn’t really matter to them.  I can almost hear them say : You had me at hello.

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5 thoughts on “learn the natives’ language & you can do no wrong

  1. Pingback: dinner with white people | YLBnoel's Blog

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