Many years ago,I met a young chap who came from a near by small town. He was a bright young lad,full of energy and enthusiasm. He came in search of a job. All was well till he opened his mouth. His English was atrocious and he had a thick regional influence.Initially people tried to keep a straight face, but after a few drinks,inhibitions went down and people began take his trip. Thought he could get all of it, but he did figure that people were laughing at his cost. The night was long and we forgot about the lad eventually.
It wasn’t until the next day afternoon that we heard that the guy took some sleeping pills and was in the hospital. Luckily it wasn’t fatal and he was stable. Some of us were quite shocked at this development.I was quite disturbed at my own stance. Though I did not participate in the ribbing, I also shouldn’t have been a bystander.I should have intervened and stopped it before it got out of hand.
Turns out,this “bad English speaking guy” goes on to head a large conglomerate,and that’s not the fun part, the most ironical part being,he went on to become a public speaker of some eminence!!
Such an inspiring story.It made me introspect.
Analyzing ,why I didn’t stop it – it told me that probably I did not think it to be that big a deal. But as it turns out it was,for the poor chap. Having fun,and becoming insensitive has a thin line of separation. I wonder why people laugh when someone doesn’t articulate in the same way as they do? Why do they ridicule people if they have a lesser command over the language? Though this is applicable for most languages,lets take English as a case in point. If one is not able to pronounce in a particular way,then it is made fun.If people have some grammatical errors in their speech or writing, then it is objected to,if people cannot form short crisp sentences ,people lose patience.
I mean give me a break.Appreciate the fact that someone is trying hard. Be sensitive to the fact that someone might feel really uncomfortable.Your sarcastic comment might dent his or her confidence for a lifetime.Sadly,most people don’t realize this until it hits them.Until somewhere somehow they get a taste of their own medicine.Then it all becomes clear. then it all starts to make sense.
In this ever flattening world,where commerce will dictate and or break all barriers of language and geography,we can only be foolish to repeat these incidents. We will be inter-dependent on various people from varied backgrounds and each will play a critical role on how our own lives shape up. Respect other cultures,people,quirks and idiosyncrasies because you have wagon loads of your own.
So the next time you hear someone with a mother tongue influence,or a regional /cultural influence in his or her diction, don’t ridicule them.Be patient and give the person a chance to express in whatever way he or she is most comfortable, like some said never mess with a geek – he could turn out to be your boss in future! I say don’t mess with a freak, it could well become the new normal!