Sometimes I Speak Swahili

Sometimes I speak Swahili.  It’s the only possible explanation.  Except for the fact that people who speak Swahili can’t understand me, either.  So maybe sometimes I speak a heretofore-unknown but terribly clever secret language.

Yeah, that’s gotta be it.

Has this ever happened to you?  I’m standing in front of somebody flapping my gums, and I think I’m being perfectly clear.  Then I see the glaze of bewilderment in their eyes.

I try harder.  I explain it a different way.

If they’re nice, polite people, they try really hard, too.  They frown in concentration.  They watch my lips.  They try to read my body language for a clue.  And incomprehension spreads across their faces like local anaesthetic during dental surgery.

Eventually, we give up by tacit agreement.  They nod and pretend to understand.  I nod and pretend to believe them.  We walk away frustrated, brains feeling like wrung-out sponges.

Or, if they’re not particularly polite, their eyes dart sideways before they sneak a glance at their watch and exclaim, “Geez, look at the time!  Gotta go!”  And then they flee.

Frankly, I don’t blame them.

I hate it when words fail me.  The problem is, they don’t fail me in the sense of refusing to come out of my mouth.  They fail me in the sense of refusing to come out of my brain in any kind of useful pattern.

That happened to me the other day on a blog.  I wrote a comment.  I checked the comment over and edited it, because I’m anal and that’s just what I do.  Then I posted the comment.  When the blogger replied, it seemed words had failed me again.

Written words are worse than spoken ones.  When you’re standing in front of somebody, your voice and expression and body language combine with your speech to get your message across.  But a few black squiggles on a white background can’t do that, and when I read them again, my words didn’t say what I really meant to say.  I felt like an idiot.

So I posted another comment, explaining what I’d really meant, and apologizing if I sounded like an idiot.

Then I felt like an idiot apologizing for being an idiot.  Sheesh.

Life would be so much easier if we could just do a Vulcan mind-meld.  Then we could understand each other completely, bang, in a single moment.  Imagine the time and frustration it would save.

Then again, I’m not sure anybody would want to mind-meld with me.  You really don’t want to know what’s lurking inside this skull.  Maybe Harry Potter’s Pensieve would be a better solution.  Just yank out the specific thought you want to convey and pass it on.

Hmm.  Nice idea, but I don’t know where to get a Pensieve.  Maybe I’ll just get a T-shirt that says, “I’m not really an idiot, I just sound like one sometimes.”

At least I hope it’s only sometimes.

Did any of this make sense?

29 thoughts on “Sometimes I Speak Swahili

  1. Pingback: Use Your Words, Diane… | Diane Henders

  2. I get it! Did you know scientists are creating new nano technology that goes in you head. It is a bit like a phone, but you don’t need signal. You just think ‘call Dan’ and you are connected up to Dan’s brain, you can talk to them and feel all the feelings they are feeling. I’m sorry but this just creeps me out! What if you were.on the loo or.something?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Okay, that just sounds horrifying! I have enough difficulty navigating all the weirdness in my own brain – I wouldn’t want to deal with somebody else’s, too. (And I’d really hope that the brain-phone had a call-blocking feature, for exactly the reason you describe!)


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  6. I’m a native Swahili speaker and I feel you completely on this one. It’s not just Swahili, It has happened tome in numerous occassions trying to say something in English to a native English speaker, and all I hear is “what was that?”
    You might be saying the real Swahili word but to a native speaker—its not the same. So-keep on speaking Swahili, you will get better with time.



  7. This is one post i can relate too. Some days its the words not making sense other days i try to reprimand my son and draw a complete blank on his name. Lol I think I’m getting old.


  8. I know what you mean. It’s so hard to really explain to someone that when you called them a “mindless dork,” you really meant it in the nicest possible way. Why do people get so offended over trivial misunderstandings?



  9. I like to save all my babbling until I get up to speak in front of a group. It’s more efficient to have a whole group think my neurons are misfiring than try to convince one person at a time.


  10. That was perfectly clear. I’m usually pretty clear in my writing, but when I talk, I sometimes fear that I’m really just babbling nonsense and maybe I am …


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