You know when people say that you shouldn't gather all of your eggs in one basket? Yeah well, instead we're talking about putting dozens and dozens of eggs into a mini-van and then rolling the vehicle, smashing every single one, kind of like what my cousin did before my aunt had a chance to take them to the farmer's market one fine Saturday afternoon. Anyway...
Meet Acquaintance J. J thinks that he can speak 15 different languages.
You know those people whose actions and views disturb you so much that in a way, you wish you could get inside their mind to see how it works, but in the end, that very idea is just too disturbing in itself so in the end you just don't even want to know? Yeah.
I don't know exactly how many he claims that he can speak, but so far I at least know that he tells people that he speaks/studies the following: German, Spanish, Tagalog, Japanese, Norwegian (both Bokmål and Nynorsk), Danish, Swedish, Old Norse, Polish, Hungarian, Russian, Dutch...
The funny part? Take this for example. One time at a party, I was visiting with a friend when he came along and started talking about languages as usual (that and his homosexuality are the only two things he ever wants to talk about) and made this random comment about how he can speak Polish. As a side-note, he has studied it for a year, but that is what makes this even more amusing. Interested, my friend perks up and says, "Wow, say something in Polish!" "...well I don't know what to say..." "How about 'my name is' then." Alright, pretty standard, basic phrase. It should fall out of his mouth no problem eh? Heh. He couldn't even think of the pronoun that the phrase begins with. So, you speak Polish, eh?
Delusional? That word runs through my mind practically every time I see his face. Apparently when he first started out Norwegian, not even two weeks into the course, he randomly went up to one of my friends and told him straight-up, "I'm going to see to it that I get better at this language than you." What?
Yeah, btw, I forgot to mention he is one of the most competitive people I have ever met. The sad part is he is very aware of the fact that he is, but embraces it and actually thinks it is healthy. His competitiveness is anything but.
So yeah, over last summer, he randomly decided that Danish is the greatest language in the world and decided to now focus on that for his degree. Then when the year started he picked up one of those learn-it-yourself books for Swedish and now thinks that he can speak it as well as I can. HAHAHAHAHA. I mean, it could happen, but considering the fact that he can't speak a single foreign language without fucking it up big-time...
He is so "obnoxious" - as one of my friends puts it, and it's honestly the perfect word to describe him - that he would try to speak Swedish with me and actually think that he was. All he was doing was speaking really bad Norwegian and on top of that, cutting and pasting random Swedish words into his speech. Notice I said would. Past tense.
Well. One day he was trying to ask my friend and me about some Swedish stuff:
J: If "semester" means vacation in Swedish, then what is the Swedish word for "semester"?
J: Then what is "term" in Swedish?
J: Nonono, you don't understand. What is the Swedish equivalent of the word "term"?
M: Uh, it's term.
J: Yeah but...
M: Look, they just have one word for it. They're both fucking "term".
He kind of paused for a second and said ok, but after he started to attempt to speak Swedish (keyword: attempt) to me and at that point I said, "I refuse to speak to you in any other language other than English." At that point I had enough. He always tries to speak to me in Swedish even though he can't. He tries to speak German and he can't. Granted I can't either but that is why I don't go around acting as if I do?
Heh, so he went to my friend who he earlier threatened about doing better than he at Norwegian and told him that he thinks I was trying to compete with him. Compete? Where the fuck do you see any competition in there? He was being an ignorant douchebag. You'd think a person would sooner think that you were competing if you were in fact actually conversing with said person in whatever other language, but apparently nowadays NOT speaking to someone to show off your knowledge is competition too?
He claims that he likes talking to people in other languages because he thinks it is good practice. Uh no, I can totally see through his competitiveness, and I can tell that whenever he talks to others, he does to see if he can outshine them, to prove to himself that wow, I can speak to all of these people in all of these different languages, and to top that off, I'm better than all of them. That is why I refuse to speak to him in any other language, because it's like feeding fuel to the fire. I'd be contributing to the ignorant monster that is materializing before our very eyes. I have a lot of experience practicing speaking to others in different languages, so I can tell very easily when people want to do it just for fun and for good lighthearted practice, or when they want to try and compete with you.
I don't think he sees it, but he is constantly trying to compare himself to others. Take the beginning of the year when we were first starting the Old Norse course, for example. Our prof was finally getting us to read aloud for the first time, and I admit, I was kind of nervous at first because it's pretty intense stuff. Apparently I really impressed my professor (and it takes a lot to do that) and I was way better than anyone else, even the girl who studied Icelandic in Iceland last summer, and we're using Icelandic pronunciation when reading Old Norse, so WTF. Well one day after class, I told J that I was surprised what the prof said to me, and J said, "Yeah, well even I was surprised. I was sitting there thinking. 'Wow, she has the phonology down better than I do.'" Better than you? No, you couldn't just say, "Yeah you do read really well!" or whatever. It's always comparing himself to others, because after all, it's an absolute shock to him when someone points out that someone is intellectually superior to him.
It reminds me of the second time ever when we were translating an Old Norse passage and I missed out on what one word meant so I asked him and he started saying something but it was all muffled and I didn't know what the fuck he was saying (btw, in general it's very hard to understand him, even in English. As one of my friends has said, "You can't tell when one word ends and when another begins.") so finally he wrote on my paper what he was saying, which was "mycket," the Swedish word for "very." After writing it, he gave me the most arrogant look like, "Heh, see, I know that." Uhhhh ok, I know it in Danish despite the fact that I haven't even studied the language, but do you see me acting like you?
He is always trying to show everyone up in class. You know those typical assholes who always try to answer first and answer regardless of whether or not they even know the answer? He does this all of the time. Or whenever my prof tries to give certain students hints what a particular word in Old Norse means (like turning to the Swedes and saying, "Try replace the à with an å... þà, då...") he is already scrambling to answer before any of the Swedish students even though he doesn't know it.
No, he's not just an ignorant douchebag in the world of language. Going back to the part of being utterly afraid of what must go on in his mind, he has this disturbing talent of equating random irrelevant things to each other.
Example: He was asking me how I was liking my German prof at the time and I casually said how I really like her, and how obviously I do since I had her the semester before and made a point of registering in her class again at the first opportunity that was given to me. I did however say that the program itself isn't as good as it was last year, and how yeah, even though she does seem to mark us quite a bit harder, she is still an excellent prof, nonetheless. You know what the douchebag did? He walked up to her one day (keep in mind that she doesn't even know who the hell this guy is):
J: So I heard you're a hard marker.
Prof: Yeah? Who said that?
Prof: Well I guess they just can't take it then.
WTF? What was the point? What did he want her to say? What was he expecting to get out of it? Why?! A couple months later he ran into a friend and me while we were looking over our German essays that we just got back and he came along and part of the conversation went like this:
J: Hey what's up?
M: Not much. We're just looking over the German essays that we got back.
J: Ooooooh... so how is that course going?
M: Not bad. The program itself is still bullshit but I'm still glad to be in Dr. Kost's class again.
J: Oh, so you like her again?
M: What do you mean "again"? When did I ever say that I didn't?
J: You said that she is a hard marker.
M: Uh no, I said that she has been marking us harder but even then, that doesn't necessarily mean that I don't like her.
Best part? A few days after he told my professor that, she walked past my classmates and me as we were waiting for the people in the classroom from the previous class to clear out, and she saw me standing next to him. Keep in mind that the Scandinavian department is insanely small, and how many students on campus study both German and any Scandinavian language? So gee, I wonder what was going through my prof's mind when she saw me standing next to him? Thanks, J.
Actually, before he ran into my friend and me, he was just coming back from a linguistics experiment that I also did earlier that day. Ok background... all it was was displaying "novel English words" (they were basically just possible English phonemes) and well before getting into the discussion about German and my supposed dislike for my prof, we talked about this, and he started going off saying shit like, "Wow, there were a few Scandinavian words in there and supposedly, there was even a Chinese word." Supposedly? As if the computer program actually told you that it was or something? I tried to explain the concept of a phoneme to him, and how they were novel English words, which is what they fucking tell you before you even start. Uh yeah, /fik/ means something in various Scandinavian languages, but guess what, it can mean something in 20 other languages too. Fucking idiot.
Another golden story displaying his unnecessary stupidity. A first-year Swedish student made a plan to gather all of the Swedish students and surprise Marianne by going to her house on Sankta Lucia and singing to her. J knew about it but rightfully wasn't invited since he's not her Swedish student and oh yeah, he can't even at least partially speak the damn language?
St. Lucia was a huge hit, and while Marianne treated us to some glögg and pepparkakor, she was telling us how surprised she was, but that one of the students in the department almost slipped up and told her. I mentally rolled my eyes and had thoughts that I am sure are really obvious at this point, so when a bunch asked her who it was and she said J, I almost said straight aloud, "Why am I not surprised..." She proceeded to tell us how this whole thing happened a few nights earlier at the Scandinavian Christmas party. While she was talking to him:
J: So, did the kids came and sing at your door?
Marianne: No... (she thought maybe he was asking about previous years)
J: Well don't your students come over to your place for St. Lucia?
M: (still completely baffled)
J: Oops, guess I let the cat out of the bag!
What. the. fuckity fuck. The convo was actually longer and he said more shit along the same lines, but her reactions and responses clearly showed that she didn't know about it and that it didn't even happen yet, so he must have been saying it on purpose to try and blow our cover otherwise he wouldn't have said anything about letting a cat out of a fucking bag. He was being a sheer asshole, unless he is really that dumb. I love how Marianne worded it though. While she was telling this story, she told us how at the time she thought nothing of it because J "says silly things all the time anyway." Oh snap.
Apparently at the language table later that day he bitched out the girl who organized this because he didn't get to be a part of it, and he was really angry that he wasn't invited. She told him point blank that he isn't a Swedish student and it was meant for them. He was still whining like a little baby, and I think she pretty much told him that he had no right to comment on it like he did to Marianne earlier.
So um, does this mean that my Learn Spanish in 10 Minutes a Day book that is collecting dust on my washer is my ticket to barge into the Spanish club and demand to be part of all of their affairs because I personally think that I study Spanish as equally as they do?
Sadly, it was his Facebook page that inspired me to write this. Up until a couple days ago, his profile page included nothing but Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Japanese, and German. Not a single word in English, and it's still like that. He edited it so he plainly got rid of everything except for Danish and Swedish, and now has Dutch on there too, plus Russian and Finnish word-of-the-day applications. To top that off, he deleted all of the comments on his wall that were in English. Who does he think he is? That is disgustingly rude. "You're not boosting my ego and/or painting a false picture with me for the world to see and making me look like someone I'm not, plus you're not convincing people that I am so good at other languages that I don't even need English, so therefore I'm not going to acknowledge you"?
The hypocrisy of it all is that all of his updates are always rants about the ignorance in this world, and telling people to back off and leave him alone and how people don't get stuff, or I don't know. Random crap like that, of course written in other languages. Dude, you are the last person who should be talking about ignorance.
God, there's so much jaw-droppingly ignorant shit that he does and says but I think you all get my point. I'd be surprised if anyone actually got this far, let alone even bothered with the first line, but seriously, I think he is a good example of the ignorance that is running rampant, which is my main reason for talking about this. Have I mentioned that he is around 28?
So yes, all of those eggs in the mini-van represent his brain cells. Either that or his attempts to actually speak a foreign language coherently, let alone understand the mere concept of semantics, or the simplest, most straightforward elements of life for that matter. FAIL.
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