Friday, September 07, 2007

Accents And Breasts

One of the fun things about going to college with a large percentage of international students and professors is that you're exposed to a wide variety of accents. English is an amazing language in the sense that it can truly be spoken in half a hundred ways, and still have it sound vaguely the same. Singaporeans as elaborated earlier have perfected the art of communicating with as little of the language as is possible. Verbs are so passe in a land where you "off" the lights.

Fate has it that I have four professors of four different nationalities; a Frenchman teaching Neoclassical Economics, an Egyptian-American teaching Strategy, a Singaporean teaching Financial Instruments and Markets, and of course my Microeconomics professor, who is Mainland Chinese.

While some (read Priyanka Jain) do see the charm of a thick French accent pronouncing something like Walras as "Waallraah"(imagine Crazy Cat Lady of The Simpsons spotting a large aquatic mammal trying to eat one of her feline friends) , I'm not one of them. Beyond a point, hearing how many Dolaaah the Sauntroll Bank should be holding gets to be a bit much. However, the economics being taught is sound, and even if the Prof completely forgets the English language towards the end of the class, that's okay. I can pick up a bit of french along the way.
My Singaporean prof however overcompensates after being told (he claims) by students that Singlish tends to mix up words leading to very bad consequences that can't really be repeated in a fun family environment. But that's okay, because its not like his England is not Powderful. Besides, its finance, you only need the basic beginnings of English to get along on a load of jargon anyways.

But the most thrilling accents can sometimes be the ones that make the least sense. Everyone's got their great "Lets make fun of the Chinese and how they speak English" stories, but I kid you not, the following parable is true.

I'm in Microeconomics class, paying the barest minimal attention required to the proceedings (Its not the most exciting of Professors), and Marginal Utility is being introduced as a concept. At this point, Indian Economics Students will recall that Gol Gappas were the chosen good to elaborate on the utility effects on increasing consumption. I had all but phased out of attention from the class when I hear the Prof say "Of course, three breasts are better than two breasts".
Double Take. Loud guffaw ensues.
"You can never really have enough breasts, because breasts are a normal good, and you will never reach satiation. Even if you have ten breasts, you can always eat some later."

Apparently, she was trying to say Breads.

My theory is that this is why the Chinese are primarily a rice eating people. Not enough Breads to reach satiation point.