Senryu : visitors


strange visitors came
friendly silence greeted me
darn! none spoke English

senryu by M. Nakazato LaFreniere

Movies always have alien visitors being able to speak English (or whatever the home country language is of the movie/theater).  However, I’ve traveled and I’ve noticed travelers sometimes expect people to speak their language rather than learning the country that they are visiting.

So I can’t help but wonder — when aliens show up, are they going to expect us to know their language?  And if we can’t, will that mark us obviously uneducated?  What if they decide we are not intelligent lifeforms? Or will we all make do with friendly silences and smiles?  Just wondering.


Leave the Porch Light On! : visits and visitors
dVerse Pub

second life photo by M. LaFreniere, avatar Kayla Woodrunner

16 thoughts on “Senryu : visitors”

  1. Ah yes…ethnocentric…intent on our ways as the right ways and of course all should be “with us.” You’ve hit on some great questions here—when Americans travel abroad, some are viewed as the ugly Americans because they step into another country and expect their kind of coffee, air conditioning in buses, their standards. I like the shift to thinking about those from another planet/world visiting us😊. Funny, I’e always disliked the term “alien” — maybe because it is ethnocentric?
    Glad you posted to the prompt!


    1. Thank you, I’m glad you liked the response. I can understand your dislike of the word “alien”. Maybe the problem with the word alien is that it means “other” with the feeling of having no shared commonality? “Alien” comes from latin “alienus” meaning “belonging to other” which in turn comes from latin “alius” which means “other”. “Foreigner” comes from latin “foras” or “foris” meaning “outside” which comes from “fores” meaning “door”. I like the meaning coming from “door” but “outside” not so much. In Japan, the word for foreigner is “gaijin” which means literally “outside person”. It’s interesting to me that in many language the word for a person from another tribe/country/planet can be traced to either “other” or “outside”. Is outsider better because an outsider can become an insider but “other” is always “other”? I wonder if there are linguistic groups for which the word for someone from another tribe/country/planet is based upon a word meaning “friend”. That would be cool. I like looking at the origin of words — I think it says something about a culture’s attitudes and development. What do you think?


  2. Damn, while trying to register below, my comment got lost in the cyber haze; it was a good one too. It was a long rambling one about how the six Star Trek series postulate that we will develop a Universal Translator program/device that addresses our alien communication needs–and a twist ending reminding us that our own sins in Babylon put us in this predicament.


    1. Darn! I love Star Trek. Would have been fun to read that. The Star Trek translator always translated perfectly. I love using “google translator” on blog pages from other countries/languages. I love the resulting weird juxtapositions of some nouns/verbs that we would not put together in English but sound weirdly cool together. I seriously doubt the translations are completely accurate.


    1. I agree but some people don’t when they are going some place for a week’s vacation. Very important to at least know what is considered an insult in another country. I remember one place I visited having the sole of your foot showing in someone’s direction is a big insult. I habitually sit with my left ankle resting on my right knee which means my sole is facing anyone to the right of me. I had to remember the whole time not to do that. Breaking a habit suddenly is not that easy but I didn’t want to insult strangers inadvertently. The good thing about guidebooks is they often have a front section on some do’s and don’ts — however with being able to buy just chapters from guidebooks on particular areas or cities on Kindle rather than the whole book, I think a lot of people don’t get that important country intro information.


  3. I think we do expect too much sometimes… I live in a country where most people growing up here know English well… in recent years with many immigrants who struggle with Swedish has not been able to learn English too…. so my English speaking friends have told me that now they finally need to learn Swedish.


  4. i know before i moved to mexico, i thought they should learn english if people came to the United States. But after i moved to Mexico, I changed my mind. I didn’t want to learn Spanish & didn’t. So now I’m ok if people don’t learn English. Its different when the shoe is on the other foot, lol


    1. For some people, it hard to learn another language. I lived in Japan for several years and didn’t learn to speak much Japanese. Mostly tourist English — I could ask directions, order food and the like. I manage to have conversations in what amounts to pidgin Japanese with a vocabulary of maybe 200 words but my grammar sucked. However I learned to read their kanji up through the 6th grade. I have a hard time learning audio things but graphic things are easier for me for some reason. My mom spoke Japanese fluently. My dad said I took after him. Weird thing is once when I was attacked while traveling (not in Japan), I yelled “abunai” a word in Japanese. I didn’t know what I had said but couldn’t deal with it at the time. I manage to fend the person off and was unharmed luckily. Afterwards, I asked a Japanese friend when I was living in Japan what did “abunai” mean and she said “danger.” So I may have more in my unconscious than I know. I expect my mom yelled that at me once when I was a kid and was about to touch the stove or something like that.


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