I wasn’t bad at Mandarin when I lived in China. Mainly because the first city I lived in had very few westerners so doing anything needed at least a little of the local language. My greatest joys at the time were heavy drinking and smoking, so it’s no surprise I learnt some pretty fruity phrases as well. But swearing in someone else’s language doesn’t carry the same weight as it does in your own language. Language in general didn’t carry the same weight when I was abroad, generally it only served fairly functional purposes such as how to not get lost, how to not starve, and how to talk to a woman.
I recognise this idea when I talk with my students these days, especially the younger ones. Being young, they love a good swear, as do I, but it never sounds right, even when they have inserted their choice of swear into the order of subject verb object. I don’t think this point is restricted to the using of foreign languages either. My Kiwi wife couldn’t say twat with the relish I can muster if she lived to 300.
So with all this in mind, it surprises me that I take inspiration and pride in people here who tell me they love my mahi, or that my mahi is awesome. Why should I be more touched by this, than by any other compliment? I think it’s because a language connects a person to a place, and if the language of a place is being used to describe my images…well it suggests the images describe well the place. So thanks to all those who enjoy my mahi, it brightens my days more than you can imagine.