“It’s cold today,”Mwenzi said, rubbing her arms.
“You can say that again!” replied Doll Lady, sipping her tea.
“It’s cold today,” Mwenzi repeated.
“Yeah, you can say that again,” Doll Lady nodded.
“She’s just agreeing with you.” Jameela said, laughing. “Please don’t say it again. We heard you the first two times.”
Mwenzi looked confused.” But she said…”
Doll Lady smiled. “‘You can say that again’ is an expression that means ‘I agree with you.’” she explained.
“Oh!” said Mwenzi, giggling. “I see.”
“What do you see?” asked Jabali, who had just walked in from a long walk. “It’s cold!” He said rubbing his hands.
“You can say that again!” Mwenzi said, giggling even more.
“Here we go again!” Jameela laughed.
“Where are we going?” asked Pendo, walking into the room and plopping into a chair. Everyone laughed and she stared at them, puzzled.
“Dolls, it seems we’re not communicating very well today” Doll Lady said. This all reminds me of something my mother used to say when I was a little girl. ‘Nil by mouth’. Do you know what that means?”
“Does it mean a patient should not eat anything until the doctor says so?” Amani asked?
“I was ‘nil by mouth’ when I was in hospital to get my tonsils out. I was SO hungry,” he said rolling his eyes.
“Yes, that’s exactly what it means,” Doll Lady confirmed. But my mother said it to mean something else. “‘Why are you two nil by mouth?’ she would ask my brother and I when we were upset and not talking to each other. We were the only ones who understood what she meant. Lots of people have their own way of saying things that people outside their family or community may not understand. It could be a way of saying things or it could be signs, or even sounds.”
“Like a bell,” Jameela said. “We know exactly what it means when the bell rings in school. Time to go to class or for lunch or go home.”
“But a bell at a church or a train station means something different, “Fadhili said thoughtfully.”
“A long time ago in African communities, people used sounds as well. They would play different drum rhythms and beats to communicate different messages. There was also horn blowing for public announcements and to call the villagers for important meetings”
“Fadhili, maybe you could play your drums and send a message to the dolls that were sent to Accra last week,” Pendo joked.
“Sometimes they also sent someone who could run really fast to deliver messages. Shall we send Mwenzi to the dolls in Ethiopia? She’s our fastest runner,” Doll Lady said, laughing.
“Isn’t it funny how easy it can be to understand each other sometimes, and how difficult it can be at other times,” said Jameela thoughtfully.
“You can say that again!” Doll Lady replied, making Mwenzi burst into giggles once more.
Did you know…
Nodding your head means ‘yes’ and shaking it means ‘no’, right?
Well, it’s not that simple. It depends on where in the world you are.
In some cultures nodding is just a sign that you hear what is being said. And in others, nodding actually means ‘no’ and shaking your head means ‘yes’!
With the help of your parent, guardian or teacher have fun looking up what nodding your head means in different cultures across the world.
Communicating with people from different cultures can begin with simply saying hello; in their own language. This week, also find out how to say hello in five new languages that you’ve never spoken before.
Don’t forget sign language, if you don’t already know it.