Wednesday, February 8, 2012

ESL for Hippos

by Drew Martin
Pictured left is William, the nearly 4,000 year old Egyptian sculpture of a hippopotamus and the mascot of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. I have been discussing hippopotamuses with friends recently and so last night I had quite an encounter with one in a dream. I had a three-part dream of water...starting with a river and ending at the ocean. The middle dream was in a delta region of Africa. I was with a Crocodile Dundee kind of a character who was tagging cranes around the water. We were wading near a small island (about the size of a minivan) when a big hippo came up behind him from the murky water. They tumbled together into what turned out to be a hug. Then the hippo got up on land and started talking to me in perfect English. He said it was his second language; he had first learned an African dialect. I was intrigued by this creature and asked him when he first realized that language was more than just sounds. The hippo replied that he was being used in movies and they kept telling him the same commands over and over and that he finally understood that words had meaning. While I was still in the dream, I kept thinking it was like a mash-up of Barney, Planet of the Apes, and The Miracle Worker.