Monday, April 01, 2013

No, please don't say that again!

You know how it is with us polyglots. We hear a strange language and we can't rest till we have identified it, or at least narrowed it down to a family. Here in East Anglia we have a lot of immigrant workers from middle and eastern Europe, so shopping at Tesco's has become the aural equivalent of an Araucaria crossword. The Slavic languages aren't too difficult, but those Baltic tongues defeat me; I am generally reduced to thinking "Well, he LOOKS Lithuanian", but it's really a copout. As for Albanian, I have no idea what it sounds like, but if the man speaking is pimping, nicking pot noodles or shooting at people, I am racially inclined to a certain conclusion...
But I was really floored yesterday afternoon. Having nothing better to do, I turned to Channel 81, the BBC Parliament channel, in the hope of seeing Miliband and Cameron kicking the shit out of each other. Instead, I was treated to a newschannel in a tongue I couldn't identify AT ALL. They were very good, it was a kind of showcase of all the telejournalism they had done over the years in Kosovo, Afghanistan and all over the place. Nice smiley men and women they were too, very professional. At one point, I thought "Basque", a blind guess, but when they did a critical piece on ETA, I cancelled that thought. So, what language were they speaking? No clues at all that I could pick up.
The truth was finally revealed only when I googled the name of the newschannel. It would never have occurred to me in a million years that there would be thriving newchannel in this language. How's that for unthiinking prejudice?

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