Monday, February 9, 2009

Cultural Musings

One of the fabulous things about the internet - and SecondLife, is the opportunity to connect and communicate with people all over the world. Luckily there are bright people who have facilitated the communication with inventions such as Babbler, Universal Translator and even Google Translator. More often than not however, I find my self having to use my limited language skills without benefit of outside assistance.

I recently met (in SL) a nice young guy from France anxious to learn to build and script. I took him around to the College of Scripting, Music and Science and the Ivory Tower. Whenever we both have time we meet and discuss what he's working on.

Which brings me to the point of this post. I speak french - albeit not as well as I used to because I haven't used it in so long. My spelling has suffered the most but it seems I can still make myself understood. :) I've discovered however, that in this virtual world we inhabit, just speaking the "language" isn't enough. You have to learn all its variations.

Think about how many different versions of the english language we speak or read everyday. There's im and/or text message speak (tyvm bbl), there's LOL Cat (which I can read but cannot speak) just to give you two examples. People who don't have english as a first language, and manage to navigate SL and communicate in it, have in fact learned multiple english languages. And yet there are idiots who make fun of them - or castigate them for not knowing it perfectly.

I encounter the difficulties involved everytime I talk to my young friend - because the french have their own variations. A few I've learned:

  • "c" pour "c'est"
  • "slt" pour "salut"
  • "g" pour "je suis"

I only have to try and understand and utilize these new versions of the language when I talk to my friend. I can't imagine how tough it is for people like Raul and Cris to do it most of, if not all of, the time they're in SL. And they do it well and they don't complain. It's possible that the jerks who make fun of them are just jealous ........ with good reason. :)

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