Week 11 Blog

Write a short narrative exploring, explaining the issues of cultural tension and language that you are faced with in your own personal situation. Maybe the writers we have studied will have released some new understanding? Maybe you might even find a poetic voice to express your new understanding. You could even use Marlene Philip’s poem as a model to follow.

Got a bunga there mate

Nah, don’t smoke

Carn, pay ya back double on the next buy up

Don’t smoke!

Know a mate that does? Get me a bunga and I will look after ya

Don’t need lookin’ after, can do it meself.


This poem I have written is an actual conversation that I had with a fellow when I was at a place where I didn’t want to be. Perhaps you can guess where. I will not disclose at this stage. But you can bet I was right out of my element. I was transported to a culture that I was not familiar with, against my will. Like refugees and other displaced persons, I was forced to adapt or die. To learn the language, or risk isolation or harm.

There were one or two to help a bloke through the transistion period, but I was forever tense, not knowing that the meaning of a word in English was not the same in this particular culture. A wrong word, a playful insult could find you with red liquid oozing from your belly and people walking away.

no one saw nothin gov,

musta falled over

you right mate?

back ta work

form up…

I also remember an incident when I was in high school. Being a fair fellow, I was asked to referee a football match. The trouble was, the boys who were playing, were previously told not to play there. They all scampered when the deputy head came out. He managed to catch one or two and direct them to his office for a caning. I was standing there dumbfounded because I didn’t know what was going on. Then he pointed to me and said “You come too, you’re stupid”.

There was a lack of communication. We were both speaking English, but I had no idea what he was talking about. I was being punished because I didn’t know the culture of that place. So I can somewhat empathise with the Jamaican writer whom I paraphrase here… English, I am speaking English, Its you that doesn’t understand…

This is my last post in this subject. Anyone got a bugle?


Filed under 20th Century Literature

2 responses to “Week 11 Blog

  1. That feeling of being forever tense is so like being autistic! I didn’t think that neurotypical people could ever experience what it’s like. When you’re autistic you’re never sure of the meaning people will take from your words in any culture and people do quite regularly get angry with you quite often ‘out of the blue’. Half the time I’m being shouted at I don’t know what I’ve done wrong – only that they are very angry and I’m feeling scared. It’s easy to get timid, ashamed and frustrated in such a situation.

    Your post makes me think that maybe being autistic is like being cuturally disconnected. More though I think of it as a form of blindness where your not blind to visual stimuli but to all non-concrete and straightforward social communication.
    Very interesting post – thanks!

  2. Dave,
    I was very impressed by your writing skills here. I love the conversational tone at the start, and how you were able to show the differences in perspective and attitude through the language. I personally enjoy the fact that you gave us a little personalised explanation as to the origin of your inspiration. You have a knack for writing and I will be sure to look out for your blogs. Nice job.

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