Lingua franca

{scroll down for the Japanese version!}

The most unexpected thing for me on this cruise was the fact that I am fully enjoying this cruise! There are two Japanese students on this cruise. Both of us have no experiences of studying abroad, and I have never been to English speaking countries. So, the difference of languages was a great concern for both of us. At first, I was really excited about having an opportunity to communicate with foreign students who major in seismology. After the invitation of being on board, I started to refresh my English on the Internet, and I was eagerly looking forward to boarding. However, my English seemed to make no progress, and I gradually started to get tired of the preparation for cruise such as the visa application. As the boarding day approaching, the fear toward the language became a nightmare: on Kilo Moana, I did not meet anyone, and I was staring at the dark rough ocean through a tiny round window. For the rest of the days, I desperately wished that all things would turn out to be just the opposite of the nightmare that I had.

On Kilo Moana, the most shocking thing was that native English is totally different from the radio and CDs that I listened to in Japan. All people have their different accent; moreover, American and British English are totally different languages for me. One of the most relieved things for me was that there were some people who praised my English. Since English is a universal language, I thought that native speakers will expect that all people can speak fluent English. So, I was rather shamed of my poor English, and I never even dreamed that I would be praised with my English. Praise made me realize that struggling with a non-native language is not a shame, but it is a very natural thing. On Kilo Moana, when I talk with someone in person, I try to catch all the words and ask the words that I could not understand (I really appreciate for the patient explanation!). When there are several people, I cannot stop the conversation every time (if I did that, it would take forever to finish the conversation!), so I try to understand the outline of the conversations and do not put too much pressure on myself.

One of my favorite thing on Kilo Moana is greeting. In the narrow boat, we can meet the same person for many times every day. Every time when people run into someone, they will say hi to each other with smiling and ask how they are doing. Though my poor vocabulary does not allow me to say something nicer than “I am good” (Indeed, I am very good.), they keep greeting with me. The greeting with smile make my ship life much happier. I will keep on doing this after I go back to Japan.

Before getting on board, I really worried about my life on board. What should I do if I cannot have any conversations because of the language differences? What should I do if they look down on my poor English? What should I do if they do not want to give me some important works? However, all were just silly ideas, and there is no such a mean person on Kilo Moana. If you do want to know the others, talk with the others, and be friends, the conversation is something endless and the difference of language is a matter that is not worth you to bothering about. I do not know whether you believe me or not, but I think so from the bottom of my mind.

— Yuki Kawano

 

本航海で最も予想外だったことは,自分が航海を思いっきり楽しめていることです.今回の研究航海には私を含めて2人の日本人学生が乗船しています. 2人とも留学経験はなく,私は英語を母語とする国の土を踏んだことすらなかったので,言語の違いに対する不安は非常に大きかったです.乗船が決定したのは出航日2か月ほど前で,最初のうちは,地震学を学ぶ他国の学生と交流できることに胸を躍らせ,ネットで英語学習をしながら,乗船日を今か今かと首を長くして待っていました.しかし,ネットでの英語学習に微々たる成果を感じることもないまま時は流れ(短期間なので当然ですが),ビザ取得を始めとした航海準備にも嫌気が差し始めました.いよいよ出国日が迫ると,言語への不安は悪夢となって具現化しました: キロ・モアナに乗船した私は誰にも会うことなく自室の小さな窓から荒れた暗い海を眺めていたのです.起きてもしばらくは夢と気づかず,自分の情けなさをぼんやりと責めていました.その後は,逆夢であることを必死に祈りながら絶望的な気持ちで乗船日までの数日を過ごしたことは言うまでもありません.

キロ・モアナに乗船し,言語に関することで最もショックだったことは,本場の英語と日本で聞いていたラジオやCDでの英語がまるで別物だという事実です.当然,人それぞれの話し方には強い個性があるし,アメリカ英語とイギリス英語なんて別言語のように異なる発音です.そんな中,私にとって大きな救いだったのは,自分の英語を褒めてもらえたことです.英語は世界共通語なので,英語圏の人々は世界中の人々が英語を話せて当然だと考えているものだと思っていました.なので,つたない英語しか話せないことを恥ずかしく思っていましたし,自分の英語を褒めてもらえるなんて夢にも思っていませんでした.褒められて初めて,英語で悪戦苦闘していても何も恥ずかしいことではないのだと思うようになりました.1対1での会話では,誤魔化すことなくわからない単語や聞き取れなかった言葉を説明してもらうように心がけています(辛抱強く説明してくださり,本当にありがとうございます!!).複数モードでの会話ではいちいち会話の流れを阻害するわけにもいかないので,大枠をつかめればいいやと気負わずに聞いています.

キロ・モアナでのお気に入りのことの1つは挨拶です.狭い船内では1日に同じ人に何度も出会えますが,その度ににこやかな挨拶が交わされます.私の貧しい語彙では”元気です”以外に気の利いた返事をできませんが(実際,大変元気なのです),それでもみんな私に挨拶をしてくれます.挨拶のおかげで船内生活が何倍も楽しくなった気がします.この挨拶習慣は日本に帰っても続けたいです.

乗船前の私は,言語の違いで会話ができなかったらどうしよう,英語が話せなくて馬鹿にされるのではないか,仕事の割当てを敬遠されてしまうのだろうか.そんなことばかりを考えていました.しかし,キロ・モアナにそんな意地悪い人はいません!! 話したい!知りたい!友達になりたい!そんな気持ちがありさえすれば,会話なんて尽きることはなく,言語の違いなんて取るに足らない些細な問題なのだと今は心から思います.

 

— 川野由貴

 

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