Tuesday, October 26, 2010

This phenomenon needs a name; maybe it's "endearing quirks".

Here's a reaction I have sometimes all the time when I'm traveling.  I start to find parts of places charming, quaint, cute.  In India, the guy on the street who was selling beards.  (everyone's selling stuff!  But beards?)  Or the trucks: all brightly colored, with "horn please!" (or sometimes "horn do" (huh?)) painted on them.  Or in Japan: that someone would have thought to make a... comedy aquarium. In the Netherlands, shoot, the whole damn language.

Oh snap wait I have the perfect example.  When I was a kid I went to a computer summer camp.  They tried to teach us some things in C++.  Good grief.  (it was also an outdoorsy camp.)  But the thing is, in C++, if you want to print "hello" to the screen, you can type:
cout << "hello"
And you use << for other things too.  So my teacher was an Indian guy, and whenever he wanted to tell us to type that, he'd say something that sounded like "put two character."  As in, "you type cout, then you put two character, then you put "hello".  I thought this was just the best saying, and of course I never mentioned it, because I dunno I thought it's not okay to draw attention to the peculiarities of his speech.

It's an interesting kind of enjoyment I get out of this.  It's not really "cute"- it's not condescending.  It's sort of like childlike admiration.  Something is a little quirky and, if I were a young kid, I'd point it out and say "hey that guy says "put two character" when he means the little arrows."  But y'know pointing these things out might offend.  So I just secretly toss it away in the back of my mind, in the pile of "inside jokes for exactly one person", and kinda forget about it (except I never forget about it, and in my mind, whenever I'm writing C++, I often have to put two character, and I grin.  (this is kinda the only redeeming thing about writing C++)).

Anyway, I think this is mostly great.  I'd love to hear about other people's quirky things they really dig about places or people from places.  I'd also be willing to listen to counter-arguments, that this is racist of me or something, because I'm making fun of people's poor English or whatever.  The main reason I don't think I'm being racist is that I'd love it if people enjoyed the hell out of my cute mistakes; but the argument doesn't go both ways for racial epithets so it's possible it doesn't for endearing quirks either.

If you'll excuse me, I'm off to my slaapkamer.

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