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Monday, November 7, 2016

EXCUSE ME?

EXCUSE ME?
This cranky re-run is from November 2012 

I speak a little Spanish; a word here and there.  If spoken very slowly I might understand enough to get the gist of a conversation. If I read Spanish I might be able to decipher enough words to figure out what is being conveyed.  Typical conversational Spanish not only leaves me out in the cold, but often has me completely scratching my head.
I sometimes think, “How does anyone understand when it is spoken so fast?”  Then I realize those of us fluent in English are guilty of the same confusing speech as are other language speaking peoples.

Some words or phrases are particularly easy to confuse.

For example:

Airline/hairline: “Dude I got an airline fracture and it really hurts!”

"Hurts! You’re lucky to be alive."

Bruce/Bruise: “I get my hair done once a week by Mr. Bruise.”

"Damn, that sounds painful."

Tidal surge/Title search: “The tidal surge on my house took three weeks.”

"Well, at least you had plenty of time to clear out before the flood."

Hair weaves/Air waves: “Sometimes I just wish they would take Donald Trump off the hair weaves all together.”
"Hey, I think it looks silly, but what he does with his head doesn’t bother me."

Hike/Kike: “He was so rude I told him to take a kike.”
"That sounds not only rude, but a bit anti-Semitic!"

Piss on/Piston: “It’s going to cost a lot to fix Mac; you’ve got a blown piss on!”
"Actually I think I would remember if my piss on was blown!"

Fired/Hired: “You are doing a great job, I am so glad you were fired.”
"Gee, that hardly seems fair at all."

Fission/Fishing: “My brother is an expert in nuclear fishing.”
"So when he has a good catch you could call it a glowing result?"

Black ice/Black guys: “When the temperature drops in this storm you have to be careful driving on the black guys.
"Careful? I think I’ll just drive around them, not on them!"

Then there are those phrases peculiar to certain areas of the country.  If you are in New York you may speak perfect English but might not understand this conversation:

“Yo, ‘snoon…jeetyet?
“No jew?”

“No squeet”

“Hey, it is noon have you eaten yet?”
“No, did you?”

“No, let us go and eat.”

How about

“Yo owudoon?”

“Hey, how are you doing?”

At work we had a secretary answer the phone with this question,

“Mr. Brownsout, maskoozecallin?”

“Mr. Brown is out; may I ask who is calling?”

Speaking a language fluently is not always a good thing.

18 comments:

  1. I think English is a really hard language to learn as a second language. Having said that, though, just saying, if you are attempting to learn it and speak it and communicate with your patients, you might want to get it down a bit more before you start working as a physician in this country. Otherwise, it might be good to get an interpreter to figure out what the doctor is saying. Daughter had a doctor one time that asked hubby "how is she sweeping?" He looked a bit confused until the nurse in the room interpreted "how is she sleeping?"

    betty

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  2. these are so funny!
    maskoozecallin?
    Good thing I finished my coffee already or I'd be choking.

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  3. I got on okay in New York, people there seemed to understand me... grins.

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  4. You know, by the last example I was actually able to translate. That's kind of scary.

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  5. From NOLA, "Hey, where y'at?"

    There have been very few times i've spoken to someone in my native language and not been able to understand enough to get the gist of it.

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  6. one of my funniest interchanges came years back when i worked for a national homebuilder. at the end of the quarter, we'd call our divisions and ask for their 'projected closings' for the week to get a prelim count for quarter performance. one lady said, "you want our protective clothing?!"

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  7. One summer I had several weeks of intensive Indonesian and when I would get home and watch the news in English I took all the idiomatic expressions literally and realized how hard our language is.

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  8. Yep, there are certain folks that know English, but I can't understand their English. I got a call from someone in India the other day and I've not a clue what she said.

    Do you stay up nights to think up these things? I think you do and I want to thank you for making me laugh so often.

    Have a fabulous day Joe, Joseph or Cranky. ☺

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  9. I always laugh when people spell "public" as "Pubic." I see this often.

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  10. I would hate to learn English now. If I didn't know it already and had a choice, I believe I would go for something easier - like Latin. Hah!

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  11. Then I'm safe. Many people say I don't speak ANY language fluently. :)

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  12. Soon after my son-in-law arrived in California, he took an ESL (English as a Second Language) course & had gotten a job as a stock boy. He came over one day & said, “Mom, this guy at work keeps asking me questions around lunchtime & I don’t know what he’s saying. I looked up the words & couldn’t find them in the dictionary.” I asked him what the words were. He told me “jeet” & “wajeet”. If he hadn’t mentioned that it was around lunchtime, I’m not sure I could’ve helped him. I told him his coworker was asking, “Did you eat?” & “What did you eat?”

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  13. I'm reminded of our differences everytime I hear a Maine Yankee or someone from the deep rural South.

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  14. English is a piece of cake. No, not that piece of cake.

    I love your posts. You are really a wise man. Wait...a wise guy. Wait - is that the same?

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  15. One of my co-workers was taken aback when another faculty member asked her if she was bringing her Hot Wing Dick again for the Thanksgiving potluck.

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  16. Looks like there's going to be some real slurring going on tomorrow morning!

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  17. So glad I was born here. We have such a confusing language and all the local accents make it impossible for the beginner.

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  18. Between accents and all of our slang I'm surprised anyone from another country can understand us.

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