I think I’ve commented in past posts that I grew up with my English being questioned. It’s not that I couldn’t speak or write in the language; English is my first language and mother tongue. It’s that the variant of the language I spoke was not the variant of the majority around me. I spoke and in many ways still speak a mixed English with influences from South Africa, Ireland, Canada (West and East, English Speaking and French Speaking), and the US.
Over the past two weeks, I found myself in four big airports. Though I did not have a chance to actually visit the cities in which these airports are located (I was merely there to catch connecting flights), I did have the chance to observe how people communicate when they find themselves in settings where there are thousands of people from different ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds. It is in such instances that people realize the power of language, which can either help them communicate or become a barrier and stall them from achieving an immediate and practical goal. Whether they need to find their gate, communicate with an officer or ask information about delayed or cancelled flights, language becomes vital.