I have never, ever in my whole life thought about language this much. What it is, what it's used for, why it is the way it is. Never again will life be as easy as walking into a store, moving my mouth around, an entirely intelligible string of commands eliciting forth, and exactly what I expected to happen taking place. Never again. (At least, not while my address is still in the Far East)
On the other hand, thinking about language more and more has made me realize what a subjective and cultural experiment it really is. For example, the onomatopoeia. (Which, by the way, who didn't feel like the proudest third grader in the entire world upon learning such a long & impressive word?) Recently, we've learned in our new language the onomatopoeias for sneezing, heartbeats, and the chug chug chug of trucks. What does ah choo mean anyways? Does my heart really say thump thump?
But these thoughts truly came to culmination when I was teaching farm animals to my kiddos at school a few weekends ago. It's impossible to learn about farm animals and not learn the Old McDonald song. Especially in light of the fact that the McDonalds golden arches are so wildly (and in my opinion unfortunately) popular here. Old McDonalds farm animals talk of course. They quack and moo and neigh and carry on like all good farm animals should.
After about the fourth verse of the song, one of my little students turned to me with innocent eyes and asked, "Is that really what they say in America?"
Now I have a little student wondering what would in the world would happen if Old McDonald brought an Asian duck, cow, or horse to his All-American farm. All because of onomatopoeias...