Ever since we awkwardly (and unwittingly) sat down at the German table in the Rocky dining hall back in October (after a confusing ten minutes we excused ourself with our only German phrase, guten tag), we’ve had a somewhat strange relationship with the residential dining hall language tables. We understand–really nice for native speakers who miss their mother tongue, useful for aspiring linguists, another way for uber-competitive Princeton students to show off–but the little Lou Dobbs in us sometimes wants to shout out “English! We eat our food in English in America!”
But everything changed when we saw this week’s language line-up for Thursday night:
Rocky Language and Discussion Tables:
Romanian - 6pm
Spoken Latin – 615 (pdr)
Swedish – 6pm
Mime – 6pm
YES!!!!! Who’s pumped for dinner?! Let’s break down what makes this awesome:
Outer Ring of Awesome: Esoteric European Languages
What makes these tables so great is that Princeton doesn’t offer either Romanian or Swedish as courses, guaranteeing that the table will be full of native grad speakers, a handful of undergrads who actually speak the language, and the two hyper-progressive kids in search of their “culturally different experience” for the week by nodding along politely to Eastern European languages they don’t, and will probably never speak.
BE SURE TO LOOK FOR: the inevitable moment when the non-speakers insist on learning a phrase in Romanian and spend the next week annoying everyone else by talking about how they “picked up some Romanian in their free time.” If you are one of the native speakers, please teach them something embarrassing. This is your chance to strike back, your version of the false-definition Chinese character tattoo.
Middle Ring of Awesome: MIME!!!!
If you, like us, prefer eating without all the social pressures of conversation, then the mime table is a godsend. Although we’re actually really curious: how do you make small talk in mime? Do you introduce yourself/tell people your name, or is it the kind of ecstatic euphoria where names only get in the way of the experience (like Eyes Wide Shut, but, you know, not)? Fascinating, but not as awesome as…
Inner Ring of Awesome: Spoken Latin in the Rocky Private Dining Room
Until we came to Princeton, we believed when everyone told us that Latin was a dead language. Not here, my friends. Latin Lives! The Latin salutatorian was just chosen last week (not the world’s most practical tradition, but actually kind of cool in a really, really nerdy way.) This made us think: is this just friendly Latin conversation, friends catching up about their most recent bacchanal or wars against the Germanic tribes? Or is there something much more competitive going on here? With few oppertunites to practice spoken Latin, this has to be like the minor leagues for the salutatorian race, the precept from Hell – in Latin, in the Rocky PDR.
Latin, while clearly the most ridiculous, is too intense for us. We’ll stick with mime. Hope to see you there.
(Note: To our horror, we later received note from Rocky that dinner would be cook-out only down at Frist. Darn. Next week, maybe?)
(image source: http://janeheller.mlblogs.com/French-Mime.jpg)