Being an ESL’er in Second Life

Yes, I am an ESL’ er (English as Second Language) and I love language! My first language is Dutch, then comes English…then a gap….French…a bigger gap and then German.

In Second Life I only speak English, which makes sense as I rarely meet Dutch people (don’t ask me why, but for some reason I just don’t meet them, while I know the Dutch community is quite large) and most of my friends are English.

Is it hard to be an ESL’er in Second Life? I can only speak for myself and I would have to say: No it is not. It can be confusing at times, I may need to look up some words and I am not afraid or too vain to ask if I don’t understand what the other means.
Specially when I talk to people who use slang!  My best friend Ratt likes to confuse me, by using words that are not common and we often have word-games, as he teaches me a new word every day! In fact, he even sent me a calendar 2011 for my rl-birthday, with ‘Forgotten English’, so I can extend my vocabulary daily with words nobody uses, haha!

So no, my English is not perfect but so far it has not led me into troubles. A few miscommunications here and there maybe, but nothing serious :p.

Although in some occasions, let’s say ‘disputes’ I feel I am not confident enough and let myself get overwhelmed in a discussion, lacking the right words is making me just stop and go silent. This can make the other think I gave up because they have convinced me or worse:  outsmart me. Not always true and in those cases I often wished the discussion was in Dutch …Oh well..

A little game I like to play, in my mind that is, is when I meet a new resident and chat a bit is try to guess from which country they are, by their use of English. ESL’ers, including myself, will always have a way of sneaking in their first language-style in their English :). I don’t mean it in a bad way, it’s like I own little game and I admit I am often right! Ha!

What I refuse to use in Second Life is a translator-hud. My goodness. Those things turn every language in nonsense, specially Dutch is apparently difficult for those machines. I can not have a serious conversation with someone who thinks it is necessary to have his English translated into Dutch for me, no matter how well they mean it.
Dutch via a translator is at best a sort of South African but in most cases a hilarious mix of  Flemish & Medieval Dutch, making a normal conversation impossible. So please people, don’t!

Do I mind if people correct my English? Nope! Not at all. Like I said, I love language and I am always ready to improve my English.
For this weblog I use the spellchecker and a tool called “after the deadline” (thanks to Pep who mentioned this, I even use it for my work).
In my real-life work I have a professional editor that checks (and often re-writes) my articles, but in world I have to depend on myself!

To end this post, I would like to share the Dutch Poem of the Century (1999). In Dutch it really creates a lovely image in my mind about Holland (even if it is a bit of old-fashioned Dutch). In English,  it just seems another poem to me and does not impress me that much….funny how that works!

Herinnering aan Holland

Denkend aan Holland
zie ik breede rivieren
traag door oneindig
laagland gaan,
rijen ondenkbaar
ijle populieren
als hooge pluimen
aan den einder staan;
en in de geweldige
ruimte verzonken
de boerderijen
verspreid door het land,
boomgroepen, dorpen,
geknotte torens,
kerken en olmen
in een grootsch verband.
De lucht hangt er laag
en de zon wordt er langzaam
in grijze veelkleurige
dampen gesmoord,
en in alle gewesten
wordt de stem van het water
met zijn eeuwige rampen
gevreesd en gehoord.

(Hendrik Marsman, 1936)

Memory of Holland

Thinking of Holland
I picture broad rivers
meandering through
unending lowland:
rows of incredibly
lanky poplars, huge
plumes that linger
at the edge of the world;
in the astounding
distance small-holdings
that recede into space
throughout the country;
clumps of trees, town-lands,
stumpy towers, churches
and elms that contribute
to the grand design;
a low sky, and the sun
smothering slowly in mists, pearl-gray,
and in every county
the water ‘s warning
of more catastrophes
heard and heeded.

(Translated by Irish poet Michael Longley, 1939)


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Cesar Macher says:

    I loved your posting and the poem about Holland – I want to visit your country one day! We support people like you who love the English language. Visit my blog – maybe you or friends of yours would like to take conversation lessons with us. We have just started our business; 3 week online only… but I am sure that we will be able to find lots of people like you who love to learn. Yours truly,
    Cesar Macher

  2. Anita61 Anatine says:

    Hey Caitlin, My language skills are about the same as yours I guess, including the gap! I do use a translator in SL, In my SL job I have to deal with people that speak Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese etc etc and it’s realy impossible to explain to them how to reset their item without one. Sometimes it takes a while to understand eachother properly, don’t use any slang and make short, straight, simple sentences. Works for me! I do get in touch with the Dutch community too, every once and a while I go to Mambo Beach, that’s filled with Dutchies!
    Nice blogpost!
    Groetjes, Anita

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