Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rediscovering Old Favourites

Since I spend a lot of hours staring at the computer (admittedly a few more doing nothing than I'd like) I listen to a lot of music. Usually it's just to have something to drown out the background noise. I've found myself listening A LOT lately to Patty Loveless, one of my favourites growing up. (Yes I'm intentionally misspelling "favorite"). I think as I've gotten older I'm appreciating more her ability to wrench your heart out with a mere syllable. This is one of her more upbeat tunes, but still one of my favourites.

Break us down by our elements and you might think he failed

We're not copper for one penny or even iron for one nail

And a dollar would be plenty to buy twenty of us

Until true love is added to these handfuls of dust

Handful of dust handful of dust sums up the richest and poorest of us

True love makes priceless the worthless whenever it's added to a handful of dust

However small though our worth may be when shared between two hearts

Is even more than it would ever be measured on its own apart

And our half what it could be is now twice what it was

When true love is added to these handfuls of dust

Handful of dust...

Handful of dust...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


We have entered the rainy season in Dominica. Indeed, the name says it all. It has literally poured throughout the day for the last few weeks. This week has been particularly wet. Monday I was looking forward to playing tennis with Steve. We had just warmed up (including that delightful filmy layer of sweat) when the bottom fell out of the sky, drenching the court, and us. Sweat and rain do not a pleasant combination make. Well Sheisse! I've also had the pleasant fortune of having the bottom drop out of the sky seemingly every time I need to step outside. It's pretty annoying because it's almost always windy and therefore it rains sideways, rendering that ever-so-useful umbrella much less useful...

Last night I was watching Dexter and eating dinner at E's place. Of course it started to rain (HARD!) as I was just leaving to go to her place...and the sky everywhere was black. Growing up watching squall lines come through I could tell this wasn't going to be a short storm. Indeed I was right (I mean of course I was! :P) and it ended up thundering and lightning for over an hour, and raining very hard for almost three. My road was almost completely washed out, and I was dodging puddles left, right, and sideways as I was walking home. But at least I didn't have to fool with umbrellas and horizontal rain!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Caribbean English -- a language unto itself

I had a conversation this morning with a friend with regards to one or tow professors who hail from the various parts of the Caribbean that went something like this.

Me: he just tears up my nerves!
E: lol, you'd better stop watching him before you implode!
Me: I have such a hard time figuring out what he's actually talking about. I can understand what he's saying perfectly well
E: you just don't click.
Me: there's something about the Caribbean prosody that just makes no sense to my Anglican brain
Me: the musicality of the words just don't flow
Me: give me a Brit and I'm fine. Germans, cools. Indians (some accents aside): ohne problem. Russians, meh. Caribbean -- forget it
E: lol, I understand. I'm the same way. I can barely understand when I call for KFC...
Me: they speak in clauses and phrases instead of constructed sentences. TANGENTS. OMG
E: yeah, their brains go places mine don't

Even though we all speak "English" there is something incredibly distinct about the English here that at times can make it nigh impossible to decipher what someone's words mean. Understand the words usually doesn't present with a problem, but there is a huge gap in prosody and phrasing between the English that I grew up speaking and hearing and the English I'm finding here. I very rarely have problems understanding non-native English speakers, especially those from Europe and India. That makes sense when one considers that a) British English is what is taught, and American English has its foundations in British English and we have a lot of British influence in the media and other places, so were used to the phrasing b) most of those people learn English separately from their mother tongues and as such learn it as English. I get the impression that frequently the local island languages are just translated word for word into English and that results in the odd-ball phrasing. The wording is often completely backwards from what one would expect to hear.I would imagine that as most of the European languages are from the same group (Indo-European) the phrasing and "mindset" of the languages have a lot in common. Here, however, much of the local langauge, Patois, is influenced by African and Caribbean languages the phrasing and rhythms were brought over. To my ears they don't tango with English. And that's all I have to say about that!