Lingua Franca

Something else that’s interesting about Picardy is that they have their own language: Picard. Some consider it a distinct language, others just a dialect of French. But so I’m told, speakers of Picard and French can’t necessarily understand one another.

In our modern education environment where we take French, German and Spanish classes, it’s easy to forget that Europe — despite its best efforts to integrate itself into an economic, even cultural whole — remains a patchwork of cultures and languages, many that the average person has never heard of. The big, internationally accepted tongues are merely language of convenience which (supposedly) tie everyone together.

Not many Americans realize that the residents of our southern neighbor, Mexico, speak 68 difference languages, not including Spanish. Interesting, no? Back when I lived and worked in Chicago I remember having an encounter with a Mexican fellow that frustrated me to no end. I’m no Spanish speaker, of course, but I always fancied myself as having enough words in my repertoire to make myself at least minimally understood. This guy stared at me blankly no matter what I said. It wasn’t until later that Mrs. Pastry pointed out that he probably didn’t speak Spanish well…if at all.

These days I think about this sort of thing a lot since Jo is right now studying an indigenous language called Zapotec, which is spoken in the state of Oaxaca, down in the extreme south of Mexico. And in fact she just returned from spending a week there. While I was baking tea bread and scones she was eating iguana stew for lunch. Not that I’m jealous, since iguana never has agreed with me no matter how it’s prepared. The notable thing is the temperature differences between there (86 F) and here (39 F).

Again, I’m not jealous. I’m keenly anticipating my own solo, week-long Caribbean vacation this winter, which is still in the planning phases.

2 thoughts on “Lingua Franca”

  1. Joe and Jo. that is too cute, match made in heaven! 😀 I can see both of you are g0-getters–in different ways, but equally cool.

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