O Frabjous Week!

This is a landmark week, the first since I published A Transcendental Journey where I sold at least one copy of each of my books. 

Thank you, kind and gentle reader(s)!

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"What A Cute Accent, Where Are You From?"


When I asked my linguistic professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia how I could get rid of my Israeli accent, he wasn’t optimistic about my chances. I further inquired if a strong accent indicated a lack of musical talent. He answered that based on what he had read it was a matter of personal identity. There were some people, he called them the Chamaeleon type, who could speak with almost no trace of a foreign accent. In contrast,  I probably, subconsciously, didn’t want to get rid of my Israeli identity. This explanation was reassuring, it was a relief to understand that it hadn't been my fault. I am not sure if this is still a valid theory, but I am not going to look for conflicting evidence.
I was reminded of the on-going difficulties with my foreign accent when I heard an episode of This American Life number 203:”Recordings for Someone” from Jan 11, 2002
In the second segment of this program a student who stutters makes a recording for someone with whom he talks on the phone whenever he orders pizza. In that message he explains how anxious he becomes when he encounters impatience and intolerance on the phone, and as a result his stattering becomes more severe.   
Similarly, I cannot recall a phone conversation during which I wasn’t asked “I beg your pardon?” But still  talking on the phone had always been easier than the initial face to face interaction. Since on the phone people only heard my voice they still were able to concentrate on what I had to say.
In the small towns where we used to live there weren’t that many  foreigners, and  since I fit the Caucasian square on official forms, people just didn’t expect me to speak with a foreign accent. It usually threw them off and then came the question: “I beg your pardon?”  Normally once I had repeated the sentence, the next comment was: ”what a cute accent, where are you from?”
I never thought of my accent as "cute," it was who I was. In the US it was also the conspicuous sign of my foreignness, which otherwise could have gone unnoticed. It went with me everywhere: to the grocery store, to the gas station, to my girl's school, to work etc. Some people used to talk to me in a slow loud voice as though my accent made me hard of hearing.
Others were suspicious of foreigners, or strangers as the sociologist Georg Simmel calls them. He defines "‘stranger’ as a person who comes today and stays tomorrow, whose position in a group is determined, essentially, by the fact that he has not belonged to it from the beginning, that he imports qualities into it which do not and cannot stem from the group itself."
Simmel's mention of the stranger's position in the group, and the issue of belonging were key factors in our decision to go back to Israel after 14 years in the US.
When I heard the student whose stutter worsened whenever he sensed antagonism, I realized, that stuttering and foreign accent are more similar than I had ever thought. I was lucky to be able to find a place where I am understood, sadly he does not have such a safe haven.  
Lack of accessibility comes in all colors, shapes, and sounds, often it is just a polite substitute to the word discrimination. We still have a long way to go until everyone is let in.

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The Edge of the World 

My parents always took us to fascinating places so we could learn about the world. When I was very small, they took us to Niagara Falls. I knew exactly where we really were. ~ A. M.

I was holding tightly to my Daddy's hand as we walked along the pavement towards a world of deep, overwhelming noise, through misty wet air, and into the moving clouds. When the white air shifted, I saw all the water in the world fall over the edge of the earth as far across as I could see, but nobody seemed frightened. Most were pointing and some were laughing and smiling, and all seemed every bit as amazed as I felt.
As Daddy lifted me up at the big fence, and held me tight, a better view of this tumultuous world appeared and I suddenly knew exactly where my family had brought me. What an adventure! What a place to visit! We had come to the edge of the world, and here it was dropping off into the sky and disappearing into the clouds.

"Where does the water go, Daddy?" I asked, and Daddy explained about the water going away and around the world and coming back. What an astonishing thing was water, that it could find its massive way back from oblivion and into the rivers again. All the way back from the edge of the world. 

"Is this the end of the world?" I was certain that it was so, but not having the word for "edge" I used "end" and I knew from Daddy's answer that he hadn't understood. Our family lingered there, mist-kissed, soaking in this overwhelmingly noisy, wet, white and grey place that was where the water left the earth.

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Poem: Spiritual Irony

Foolishness of Jehovah
exceeds the wisdom of Mankind;
torture by crucifixion
was to serve as a deterrent
to stop all forms of crime.

Inhumane treatment
demonstrates insatiable blood thirst
in a vain attempt to bring out
the best character of man
by placing World's justice system first.

However, death of the Innocent Lamb,
a perfect sacrifice God did decree
to bridge the gap of sin
using Man's worst punishment
in a twist of spiritual irony.



Author Note:

From my book: Reaching Towards His Unbounded Glory
The ISBN is: 1-4196-5051-3

Learn more about me and my poetry at:

By Joseph J. Breunig 3rd, © 2006, All rights reserved.


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Latest Comments

Stephen Evans We Don't Say Goodbye
15 June 2018
Sound advice Ken.
Ken Hartke We Don't Say Goodbye
13 June 2018
I may have posted this before -- I sometimes need to revisit it. I occasionally need to give myself ...
Katherine Gregor Rise
12 June 2018
I like it!
Katherine Gregor R. R. R.
12 June 2018
I hope you're right. Thank you for your comment.
Rosy Cole R. R. R.
12 June 2018
The real strength you gained from this, I believe, is the interior knowledge, not necessarily recogn...

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