'Agree With Everything - Deny Nothing - Embellish All

Saturday, April 29, 2006

English Spoken- American Understood

It's been a while since I blogged - 4 weeks or so but I've been abroad and it's been a bit hectic. We've been in South Africa for 2 weeks and I'd just started to dream in South African English when we had to come back. They (the South Africans) do have some quaint turns of phrase and a quite different view of life but even they are baffled by Americans particularly the ones 'overseas'. Louis Venster, an Afrikaans speaking farmer come guest house host, with a refreshingly simple view of life, and - a bit of a mistrust of the English pre-guest house days, said he would have liked to put a sign in the window saying 'No Americans'. He went on ..'they are loud, over-use first names and always asking for something that isn't on the menu or a variation. A lightly fried egg yolk please Louis - easy over'. I have no real first hand experience of Americans on holiday (and have never been to the US of A) except for the American calendar incident (blogged previous) but Albee Backingyou -the Banjaxed bass player - told me this little tale. He said that he was on holiday in the States and in conversation in some place in the middle of nowhere. The local to whom he was speaking said - 'and how long you been speaking American Al?' ... 'It's English ... and ... all my life' says Al 'I was born in England.. why do you ask?' ..... ' Well .. it's just that you kinda ... speak it very well'.
You would think that after 2 years now of watching CSI that I would by now be fluent. The fact is that I do not understand a single word from beginning to end I just watch the pictures. The accent, phrasing, American slang, dialect ... has me beat.
The title of this piece 'English Spoken - American Understood' was on a trinket stall outside Waverley station in Edinburgh some 40 years back - yeah the year of the 1966 World Cup (don't understand fitba (Scottish) either)). I thought it was funny at the time but now as the language progresses and English is changing to become American/Australian/Spanglish/Weblish I seem to understand less and question what language I actually do speak. Maybe it's just Ish.
Blog again just now.
RM
PS: 'Just Now' is South African English for sometime in the short term future - not today but possibly in the next week. NOW would mean anytime later today.

2 Comments:

Blogger Ray & Gill said...

Reminds me of my brothers recent visit to Kansas, Nebraska, South
Dakota and North Dakota. I will quote from his email to me -
I always describe Americans as stupid but friendly and the inhabitants of these states are no different, perhaps a bit more stupid and possibly more friendly. So there were lots of conversations like this:

(Waitress): Are you talking French to me?

No, what makes you think that?

'Cos you talk kinda funny, and you look European so I thought, you know, maybe French?

No, we're English.

Oh, wow, you're from Australia!

No, we're from England.

I have a friend who lives in Blackpool, where do you live?

Germany.

What part of England is that?

2/5/06 7:44 pm  
Blogger Nick said...

Many years ago in North Carolina an Australian friend of mine went for a haircut. Barber couldn't work out where he was from. Finally, the penny dropped. "We don;t get many folks from your parts round here . ." he said. "Oh yeah sport - where's that then?". "Oh, I got you figured. You're from Louisiana . . ." the barber replied.

3/5/06 11:30 pm  

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