The twenty-fourth installment of the A-Z series. X is for Xie Xie.
Xie xie pronounced sheh sheh means thank you in Mandarin Chinese. My daughters often like to watch the show Ni-hao Kailan which exposes the children to the language. I find languages to be fascinating. I love to hear the tones and inflections of different languages, especially when they are spoken by children.
Even more than the sound of the language is the way people say things and what that says about the culture. For example the Inuit in Alaska have at least 18 words for snow. In many ways the structure of language and what they most like to talk about says a lot about the culture as a whole.
In America probably more than any other country in the world there is an unfortunate snobbery about language. The American English spoken varies a bit from region to region although it is pretty much the same throughout the nation. Many Americans feel that since they already speak the language of Business and Money they need not learn any other language. Emphasis on learning languages is not the same as it is in many other countries where students often learn three languages or more.
There is something special about speaking with people in their native language. It takes away the fear and strangeness when a person is able to communicate. Even if you mangle it in your attempt many people appreciate the gesture. In the future I hope that more attention is paid to language, with more opportunities to speak the languages of many nations. Language is certainly a use it or lose it proposition.
I wish that all nations would make it easier and more affordable to travel. I think this is an important action toward world peace. We must have the opportunity to see where each other lives. Experience the various options and opportunities that come with different life choices. How can a person truly make life choices for themselves when they haven’t seen more than one or two options. There are so many!
It is easier to understand people when you see where they come from. It is an opportunity to see how much each human being has in common. Most of us live the same type of day, we get up, we try to feed ourselves, we work in some way, we long for community and a sense of belonging, we have families and those families often have similar benefits and issues, we all know someone who has died and have felt that pain at one time or another. We all have our feelings about death and what happens after. We all want what’s best for the children of the world. We all want security and peace for our loved ones.
When we are able to share language, culture and all that is wonderful to share, good friends, good food, good music. We can truly come together in the world. What could be better than that?