Universal Language

Wandering through downtown Basel, Switzerland, I saw a building with an open door. Given that we were in what appeared to be the university district, I figured it was a school building. Specifically some sort of school of design.

it’s not that the building was that impressive, but the corridors had that arty feel, if you understand what I mean. Plain brick walls but you could feel the creativity.

One of the key things when traveling is the availability of public washrooms. This seems especially important when so many things are closed due to COVID-19. So, given that I was in a public building and the washrooms were free, I checked them out.

It is not unusual to find graffiti in the washrooms of school buildings. Education doesn’t seem to eliminate what is in essence an act of petty vandalism. I can’t think of any washroom in my alma mater, Carleton University, where there wasn’t writing in the stalls. In the men’s rooms anyway – I never checked out the women’s washrooms.

So it was no surprise to find that mstudents in Switzerland are as prone to graffiti as their Canadian counterparts. I was surprised though to discover the majority of the messages were in English.

Some sociologist somewhere probably could tell me the reason. I guess it really is the universal language. In this case though, I’m not sure it is something English-speakers should be proud of.


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