bookmark_borderLanguage and culture

To the clouds
Originally uploaded by clydeye

I read an article in the Metro a couple of days ago about a guy who’s decided to abandon money, and as part of that decided to walk to India without any money at all, even refusing to accept monetary gifts.

I must say his whole project annoys me from the start. He’s refusing to buy a ticket for the ferry because that involves money, but he then expects somebody else to buy one and give it to him. If everybody did the same, there would be no ferries, and he would have had to cross the Channel on a raft.

Anyway, I found his problems once he got to France even more mind-blowing. To quote the article: “We got to France and it became obvious that we weren’t able to adequately explain what Freeconomy and money-free living was. I only have schoolboy French. They really didn’t get it and thought we were freeloading backpackers. […] The point of the walk was to interact with people and spread the Freeconomy message.”

So, he wanted to spread the message, but expected to be surrounded by fluent English speakers?!? If he found the north of France hard, I can only begin to imagine the kind of problems he would have encountered in other countries on the way. At the very least, he could have prepared a written explanation and have had it translated to French, German, Bulgarian, Turkish, Farsi, Urdu and the other languages he’d be likely to encounter on the way.

Furthermore, I think he’s unaware that the UK’s charity culture is very British. In this country, we’re used to people doing silly things for charity, such as bathing in baked beans or shaving your hair off, and walking to India without a single penny is quite reasonable within that context. However, this culture doesn’t exist in many other places, so people won’t easily understand why he’s doing it, and he should be prepared for much more trouble explaining it.

Silly bugger!