If one is an American, merely speaking English is enough to share this experience, moving from one part of the country to another, especially if one’s racial or ethnic origin is visible or suspect, as Lahiri, I’m certain, maintains. I’ve no doubt, even as the Soviet Union has “shrunk” to Russia, there is still something like the same problem of speaking different dialects of “Russian” or even different languages within the “soviets,” and the same is still true in China, from one province to another. And also in India where dozens of different major languages change from state to state, even within states, not to mention the minor variations. If only Europe could be as congenial with its languages as it is with its currency...

I don’t know if there are particular words for such persons in each country or district, anything to match guiri. People from the North, when found out to be in the South by merely speaking, were once called “Carpetbaggers.” Then they were stripped naked, had hot tar poured over them, feathers poured over the tar, and were run out of town on a railroad rail. I don’t believe they do that any longer. I hope not. I’ve survived...so far.

When I arrived in California from New York my way of speaking was so pronounced and different that people on the street would stare at me and walk in the other direction, as if I were going to kill them or something. My new friends there literally taught me to un-New York my way of speaking so that I could survive.

Possessor of Paul Newman eyes. Author of the straightforward & strange. “Women zai shuo ba.” Be useful; share what you can; help others always. Doctor of texts.