13 August 2008

Song of the South

In our neighborhood, there are at least four people whose job consists of pedaling a cart around all the side alleys and lanes, calling for junk. They buy old bottles, broken appliances, and God-only-knows what else1.

The reason I mention them is because the other day, a previously unheard voice went by, and as I lay here, trying not to die (the heat and humidity are that bad), my brain tricked me into believing that he was singing, and that I ought to recognize that tune. So, he pedaled around, asking for washing machine parts, and finally, I blurted out the next line of an old Flock of Seagulls song: "I was falling in love."

About an hour later, a woman went by, and I swear she was singing the tune for "Here Comes the Bride" with Chinese lyrics.

After a couple of hours of naming those tunes, I started to wonder if there was something wrong with that activity. Might it be racist in some way to hear only echoes of synthpop in the local language?

Then Sweetness came home, and as we were playing cards, she heard them outside, and said, "Southerners sound like they're singing all the time when they talk."

"What are they saying?" I asked.

"Who knows?"

1 - I suppose anyone who speaks the same dialect knows what they buy, but I know about two dozen words of Mandarin, let alone unknown southerner talk.

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