There is someone I’d like to thank, and curse, for the way she treated me, and for influencing me to become an amateur polyglot (that’s right Clugston, you non-geolocked bastard, I said polyglot). I’d studied Japanese for about 18 months, and decided my first visit to Japan was long overdue. That’s how I found myself in a homestay in Fukuoka, and that’s how I met my housemate and classmates who invited me to a club. The club was famous for catering to both Japanese and westerners, so I thought it would be a good place to meet local girls and practice conversation.
The club turned out to be not so interesting, quite a few western servicemen with their Japanese girlfriends, but not many other locals. So after a couple hours, I was leaving with my housemate, a Chinese guy from Hong Kong who had lived a great deal of time in California. We walked into the hallway, and came face to face with two very attractive, well dressed blond women in their 20’s, looking eager to get into the club, but not budging. So I asked them if they had been in the club yet. One of the two looked confused, and the other one looked angry at that question. Sure that I must have read that wrong, I told them there was dancing and food inside, and they ought to go in. That’s when the angry one spoke up.
Angry girl: If you’re in Japan, why can’t you speak Japanese? (in heavily accented English)
Me: blank stare, thinking of something clever to say in Japanese
Angry girl, to my friend: Are you from around here? (in very strongly accented Japanese)
My friend: What? Sorry, I don’t speak much Japanese… I’m Chinese.
Angry girl: How are you? (in very strongly accented Mandarin)
My Friend: I’m fine (in Mandarin). But I don’t speak much Mandarin. I speak Cantonese. (in English)
Angry girl: That’s nice. Where are you from? (in Mandarin)
My friend: Hong Kong (in Mandarin). But I’ve lived much of my life in America (in English).
Polite girl: She speaks 7 languages; Russian, Mandarin, Japanese, etc (in heavily accented English)…
The elevator arrived then, and two Japanese businessmen in their 40’s got out, collected the girls, and went into the club.
My friend: It sucks not being able to speak Japanese here.
Me: How was that girl’s Mandarin?
My friend: So-so. But she had a really funny accent.
That was a terribly frustrating experience for me. I’d worked for a year and a half at Japanese, my 5th language at the time, and had some ok skills. I was the best speaker in my class, for one. But that Russian girl had crushed me in just a few minutes of conversation. I didn’t even defend myself. And she was so confident, and spoke 7 languages. The polite girl was really impressed by that, and even my friend seemed a little in awe. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this episode had a big influence on me deciding to become a polyglot. I have to admit that it was more the desire for revenge that drove me than the impressive display of language skills. But what revenge? I knew I’d never run into her again. I guess I decided somewhere along the line that I’d rather be Angry Girl than me in the above conversation.
So I’ve been transforming into Angry Girl for 7 years now. I believe I’ve surpassed her in most ways, at least the level she was at back then. Her fearlessness and ability to change language quickly may still be superior to mine. I’d like to find out.
I figure this is the best place on the internet to find her. If you are angry girl, please come forth so we can have a language battle, on Skype. Or at least a good debate here in this thread. Even if you aren’t Angry Girl, just pretend to be. C’mon – I need my revenge.