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  • Writer's picturePeter K F Cheung SBS

Tongue Twisted

  1. FADE IN

  2. Act 1

  3. INT. STUDY - 10:00

  4. Sitting on a sofa with a mobile in hand, PETER taps the Duolingo App.

  5. PETER (V.O): Apart from "Gracias", I know more Spanish words and can type some Spanish words.

  6. We see the mobile's Spanish keyboard.

  7. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): In the early 1990s, I befriended with a Spanish lady lawyer.


  9. A. INT. WIPO, GENEVA, 1992. Expert Committee. Sitting behind the country plate "Royaume-Uni", Peter (38) observes a LADY making an intervention in Spanish.

  10. B. EXT. COACH, BOSTON, 1993. Study tour. Peter and the Lady sit together in a coach, talking in English occasionally.


  12. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): She remarked that I was happy in Geneva but was very sad in Boston.

  13. Act 2


  15. A. Expert Committee, 1996. The HEAD of the Japanese delegation makes an intervention in English.

  16. B. Expert Committee, 1996. This time, the Head of the Japanese delegation makes an intervention in French.


  18. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): Then, Japanese wasn't an official language in WIPO. It was admirable that the head can speak English and French.

  19. Grabbing another mobile by side, Peter taps the Duolingo App.

  20. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): I've five mobiles. I've designated one for each language I'm learning.

  21. Tapping a speaker icon, Peter hears "Bonjour, ca va bien?"

  22. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): I'm learning French again for the 4th time...

  23. Pausing.

  24. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): I'll be accompanying my wife to go shopping in Paris in July.

  25. Having done some practice, Peter grabs another mobile.

  26. PETER: Io sono Pietro. (I am Peter).

  27. PETER (V.O): Whenever I order latte, my tongue can twist when pronouncing the simple word "latte".

  28. Pausing.

  29. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): The first European city I visited was Roma...I once visited Naples and the Isle of Capri...It's better if I can speak Italian...

  30. Thinking.

  31. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): Spanish, French and Italian have similarities and differences. Learning them at the same time can be confusing to me.

  32. Recalling.

  33. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): But I always admire the support staff of WIPO's Secretariat. They speak English, French or Spanish to delegates, as appropriate.

  34. Grabbing another mobile, Peter practises some Japanese.

  35. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): I thought I'd speak simple Japanese. But a fortnight ago in Japan, I found my tongue tied - not just twisted!

  36. We hear Peter repeating after the App: Sushi to Mi Zu, ku da sa i...

  37. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): I've been encouraged by my younger daughter. She speaks fluent Japanese through self-studies.

  38. Pausing.

  39. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): My wife and I are learning Korean formally - in HKU SPACE.

  40. Grabbing another mobile and tapping the Duolingo App.

  41. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): We've had two 3-hour evening classes. We find them heavy-going.

  42. Peter tries to recognize the Korean alphabet blocks on screen.

  43. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): I'm experimenting and comparing the traditional way and the scientific way of learning the language.

  44. Pausing.

  45. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): Our teacher in Korean wants us to study the language seriously.

  46. Pausing.

  47. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): A year ago, my wife didn't want to learn the language. But now, she's serious.

  48. Sighing.

  49. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): After doing the executive programs at Harvard Kennedy School, I thought I'd never be a student again.

  50. Pausing.

  51. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): As I've already committed, I'd better be a good student.

  52. Act 3

  53. INT. STUDY - 22:30

  54. Peter inserts an AI drawing entitled "Tongue Twisted..." to a text.

  55. PETER (V.O): As a gateway of understanding and connection, language is a powerful means.

  56. Thinking.

  57. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): I know that language acquisition requires time, effort and consistent practice.

  58. Reflecting.

  59. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): While there're challenges and frustrations along the way, the process of acquiring new skills can be rewarding and fulfilling in its own right.

  60. FADE OUT

  61. THE END

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