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”
Pingback: Use Your Words, Diane… | Diane Henders
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?
LikeLiked 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!)
Pingback: It’s A Conspiracy! | Diane Henders
Pingback: Driving Ms. Crazy | Diane Henders
Pingback: Let Me Rephrase That | Diane Henders
Yeah. For we who work with words a lot, sometimes, the words win. Keep fighting the good fight!
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.
Maybe someday we’ll come up with a universal language everybody understands. Thanks for visiting and commenting! 🙂
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.
Glad I’m not the only one! And hey, your son knows who he is, right? You don’t need to get his name right *every* time…
Thanks for commenting. 🙂
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?
LOL! So, so true! I wonder what the phonetic equivalent of “mindless dork” means in Swahili…
So your dentist is from the Swahili Coast? It’s great that you’ve learned to speak Swahili. I read somewhere it’s more difficult than Vulcan.
Logically enough, of course. (Sorry, couldn’t resist). Maybe I’m actually speaking Klingon – that would explain why the Swahili speakers can’t understand me.
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.
Ooh, good thinking! Isn’t efficiency grand? 🙂
I have no idea what you’re talking about 😉
But I would like you to come talk to my Kindergartners. Maybe they will understand you better than they understand me.
I don’t think I could handle that. Little kids are far too honest. They’d call my bluff for sure.
Yes, I know how you feel, Diane. I tend to speak Swahili when I’m asking very important questions… or maybe the person answering is the Swahili speaker and it’s me not understanding either of us…
Ah, I didn’t consider that possibility. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t recognize Swahili if it was spoken, so that could definitely be the case for me, too. 🙂
Actually, yes. It makes perfect sense.
Hmm. Now I’m kind of worried about ME. . .
Oops, sorry about that. But at least I feel better. Nothing like off-loading one’s insecurities on the innocent and defenceless…
Hey I speak that language too!
All too often I wish I had kept my mouth shut. ha ha
Hey, maybe we should talk: “jkldsj froliejl dkj foiwnl aslkjds. kssdj?”
Did you get that? 🙂
LOL! You make perfect sense. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve done that to myself I’d be a wealthy man.
Glad I’m not the only one! Thanks for visiting and commenting. 🙂
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 …
It doesn’t happen to me very often, but when it does, it’s incredibly frustrating. Like you, I usually have better luck with writing… but not always. 🙂