I've been thinking about language lately. That's what I do when I weed: I think too much. It started when I called the furnace guy. He wasn't in so I left a message. In French. As he doesn't speak English that seemed the logical choice. He was duly impressed and commented on my improvement, to which I eloquently said 'Huh, oh…uh..merci', all French words having beaten a rapid retreat.
So here are random thoughts on words:
Little thought (faintly political): How can they call it 'Friendly Fire' when it means your own guys are trying to kill you? I mean, how friendly is that?
Main Thought (du Jour): Why do people refuse to understand and differentiate between similar sounding words…particularly if you are new to the language?
In Andorra mon mari and I were in a bar ( place where beverages are served – orange juice to alcohol). He was starting to get comfortable with Spanish so he went up to order the coffee – 2 cortados (small espresso with hot milk…wonderful!) but he said cortadas (cut). The guy handed him a knife and smirked. I mean, come on, the words are not that different, especially when you remember the accent is on the second syllable, not the last. If I went in to an American red-neck bar and ordered a bear, the bartender would probably smile and say 'Don't you mean a beer, little lady?' and hand me a brewski. Of course, if my neighbor, Francoise, did the same the guy would probably head out back looking for his pet grizzly….
When I was 3 my mother asked me what I wanted for lunch. Even at that tender age I loved food! I asked for a Braunschweiger (liver sausage) sandwich. Apparently mothers can be guilty of deliberate misunderstanding, as well. She made me a brown sugar sandwich! And made me eat it! I was only 3! (Jokes on her. Think about it – caramely brown sugar on fresh, creamery butter….how bad can that be?)
In Spain, after playing golf in the blistering heat, we would have a clara (beer and carbonated water - which was refreshing, thirst quenching and didn't get you dizzy like straight beer would) …as long as you didn't say 'claro' to the waitress – meaning you agreed with whatever the last person ordered (hot tea anyone?).
I commented on this phenomenon to my Spanish teacher, who happened to be an English-speaking German. She replied that Spanish was much harder to learn than English – the opposite of what I thought I knew. She went on to say how easy English was to learn to pronounce – everything was so orderly. Okay, I'd had enough. This was my native language, I knew where the pitfalls were for the unwary. I gave her my ultimate test: pronounce 'bomb', 'tomb', and 'comb'. She did. Each word rhymed perfectly with 'bum'….
So, do you suppose that if a (insert nationality here), speaking less than perfect English, threatened to send a 'bum', everybody would snicker and not 'understand' the stupid (insert pejorative descriptor here)?
Do you think I spend to much time weeding?