‘What Language Do You Speak?’

Yesterday, one of my 11 year old neighbors caught me off guard. He’s American born, of African descent and raised in the city.

J: Where you from?
Me: Hershey, near Harrisburg.
J: [blank stare]
Me: Know the chocolate bar? I lived in the town where they’re made.
J: [recognition] Oh. [pause] What language do you speak?
Me: [blank stare] huh?
J: What do you speak?
Me: [confused] As in language?
J: Yeah.
Me: [Suppressing Smile] English.
J: Do you speak Latin?
Me: [Pause. Blank Stare. More Pause.] No.
J: [Confused look] Oh, cause you talk funny when you’re mad. Like this [uses nasely impersonation]
Me: [surprise at his reference to my anger, and recognition of his line of questioning] Oh, I have an accent. Right. Didn’t know that.

The white man accent, nasal included. I am the other. And so transition happily continues…


~ by Brian Shope on August 12, 2011.

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