Friday, January 22, 2010

Custard-Apple, the Multi-Lingual Parrot

Some people say that crossing cultures, learning other languages, etc. is for the birds. Well, let’s learn from the birds! Specifically, what an Indian Ring-Neck parrot named Sek-khia can teach us about being an effective cross-cultural/language learner.

By the way, “Sek-kia”  (釋迦 Shi4Jia1 in Mandarin) means “custard- apple” in the Taiwanese/Hoklo language. The custard-apple is a  sweet fruit here in Taiwan, Thailand, and maybe a few other places:


Now back to my Custard-Apple… Sek-khia the multi-lingual parrot’s first language, as far as I am aware, was Mandarin. He (she?) spoke it the very first day I inherited him:

你好可愛 (Ni3 Hao3 ke3ai4) means “You are very cute.”

Next, Sek-khia moved on to pick up the Taiwanese or Hoklo language:

“Mai2 Khun3” means “don’t sleep.”

Sek-khia then moved on to his third tongue, English:


Sek-khia can also converse in the Hmong or Miao tongue (the Miao are a indigenous people in China and elsewhere):

Tangentially, I have also been told that Sek-khia could converse in the dog tongue, but that was before I inherited him and I have never heard him utter it. With languages, if you don’t use it, you lose it, just like my three years of high school and college German! I thought that next I would work with Custard-Apple to acquire elvish, the dwarf tongue, and maybe a few words of Orcish.

Alas, you won’t have a chance in this post to hear what my other bird, Precious (Mandarin 寶貝 Bao3Bei4) can say: “stop that”, “shut Up” , “I love you” ,“Mai Khun” and especially a very funny laugh! She’s too shy to be recorded.

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