Friday, January 22, 2010

More Lessons from the Birds

Following up on my last post, there are few other things we can learn from the birds about being good cross-cultural learners and workers.

First, from the clip below, we must maintain the active, inquisitive attitude of the learner. It’s important to have fun! And not just to just stay stuck up in the ivory tower (or, in this case, with your head stuck down in the feed can). Maybe you even want to get a little crazy when you’re practicing what you’re picking up!

Let’s take this reminder from two of my other birds-- Precious (Mandarin 寶貝 Bao3Bei4) and Bala (Guava): As international workers finding ourselves on the receiving end of abundant, unmerited blessings we have neither earned nor deserve, we want to rescue the perishing… to pass those blessings on. But will Precious come to the rescue of Guava?


Let’s shake hands with Custard-Apple to thank him for his assistance in these two posts!

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.