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Online Pidgin – Our Own Special Language!

Well, here it is June 1 and the start of another 30 day blogging challenge, this time hosted by Jeanette Cates, of TechTamers.com.  I’m excited about writing but mostly, about meeting new online friends.  Cheers to all of you who are joining us!

I want to begin by telling you a story.

Last month I had guests from Sweden and from Lappland.  I have known Eric for 26 years and he has lived in the north of Sweden for almost that long. He visits the States a couple times a year and we always have long chats about everything under the sun and just enjoy each other’s company.  This time, he brought along a friend who had never visited America.  His name is Kristian and he’s a “Sami” which is the indigenous people group who live in the extreme north of Scandinavia – an area known to us as Lappland.  It covers four countries – Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.  Much like our Native American Indians, they have their own culture, languages, costumes, and a unique way of life; most are reindeer herders, including my new friend.

The first day they arrived, Kristian got out his laptop, hooked up to his wife via Skype, and carried the webcam around in my backyard pointing out the Sago Palms, the hibiscus trees in bloom, and the sparkling water in our pool.  He made sure he captured a picture of our thermometer which read almost 90 degrees F.  He was amazed by it all.   He let me say hello to her, and I noticed there was still about two feet of snow on the ground in his yard.  We prepared to have dinner outdoors, poolside.  We grilled salmon that I purchased at Costco.  He told me he cracks the ice and catches his own fish.  And now I come to the heart of the story…did you read that I said, “He told me…?”  Telling me wasn’t easy.  You see, he speaks Sami, and also Norwegian because he lives in the region of Lappland controlled by the government of Norway.  Eric and my daughter, Melissa, speak fluent Swedish (she lived in Sweden for several years after college), and English, of course.  There’s a strange little quirk about Norwegians and Swedes.  They can understand each other’s language enough to communicate, but they don’t speak the other language.  So, this is how it went down…Kristian would speak to Eric or Melissa in Norwegian, they would answer in Swedish and then interpret for us in English.  We couldn’t be in a hurry, for sure.  This went on for 3 days, and during this 3 days, we had other friends to drop by…one fellow who was born and raised in Papua New Guinea.  He speaks with a heavy Aussie accent.  Also, an Italian friend who married a country guy from SC, stopped by.  They’ve adopted a Chinese baby, and we’re relieved that she is NOT speaking English with the Italian or the hick accent of her parents.  (Sorry, Larry…) I was beginning to wonder if I gazed off in the distance, I might see the tower of Babel rising upward.  If you don’t get that, go to Genesis Chapter 11 for the full story.  It’s fascinating.

Have you ever heard of the word “pidgin” with reference to language?  A pidgin language is a simplified language that develops as a means of communication between two or more groups that do not have a language in common. It is most commonly employed in situations such as trade, or where both groups speak languages different from the language of the country in which they reside (but where there is no common language between the groups). Fundamentally, a “pidgin” language is a simplified means of linguistic communication, as is constructed impromptu, or by convention, between groups of people. A “pidgin” language is not the native language of any speech community, but is instead learned as a second language. A “pidgin” language may be built from words, sounds, or body language from multiple other languages and cultures.

Ok, I know you’re waiting for me to tie this altogether, so I will do so without delay.  Today, my business partner, Sue, and I did a free webinar, just like we do every Tuesday afternoon at 3pm  (Sorry, I missed our #blog30 kickoff webinar, but it was at the very same time).  We were talking about building Fan Pages for Facebook and how to grow your business with social media.  Sue was doing the teaching and I was fielding the questions.  After about 30 minutes, this older gentleman (I happen to know he’s older than me) emailed this:  “Why don’t you publish a new dictionary.”   I replied, “A new dictionary???”  He emailed back…”Yes, for all the new definitions of words I thought I knew.”  And then he gave a list of common words that we, indeed, have changed the meaning of in our online lives.  I think I’ll save that list for another blog post, but I started to think about all the new terms that we have added to our vocabulary since learning to do business online.  The list is huge.  I think we all speak pidgin, of sorts…an online pidgin language.

What words can you think of that you use commonly that weren’t part of your vocabulary even a year ago?  Leave comments and tell me, and I’ll compile them all and maybe I’ll publish a new dictionary!