Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Legitimate Rights of the Tung People

In the aftermath (me and my overanalyzing everything) of a great meal at friends (professors, doctors, engineers and alike from Transylvanian origin), I found a troubling lack of parallelism.

The people were really nice, the food was great, and so was the music and general athmosphere. For no ulterior motive (other than a laugh), there was some ridiculing of the ways of the 'natives' or other ethnic groups, their clothing (weird combination of nightgowns, slippers and anoraks) and their grammatical mistakes with foreign words. Someone mentioned a contestant at a trivia show on TV answering 'Tungestan' when asked about the element found in electric lamp filaments, instead of Tungsten. One could think it is a former Soviet state, like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan or another 'stan'. In Hebrew writing there are no vowels, and so when reading a word you don't know, you might pronounce it either just incorrectly, or with a different meaning. This could be the possible cause of the mispronounciation.

The underlying subconscious assumption here is the natives' lower cultural level, compared to Europeans. At the same time, European immigrants' mistakes in Hebrew pronounciation or writing are considered chic, certainly not related to cultural level. To all hypocrites, I suggest reading Horace Miner's 'Body Ritual Among the Nacirema'.

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