English as a second language, Part I

Genetically I am half Swiss, half English. Having said that my language skills aren’t really 50-50, as I have only spent about 25% of my life in an English speaking country, and very little of my schooling happened in English. But overall, given the circumstances, I am quite happy with my abilities to communicate written and verbally in my ‘second’ mother tongue (misleading because it’s my mother who is English). Nevertheless, I have my battles. Here an excerpt:

On my first day at work in Toronto I got a call from someone asking for (let’s call her:) Elaine. I hadn’t met her yet, and so I asked a co-worker where I could find her. Her response: “Oh Elaine doesn’t work here anymore, she got laid off”.

So I went back to the phone and in my friendliest phone manner informed the caller:
“I am sorry sir, Elaine doesn’t work here anymore, she got laid”.


~ by spasmicallyperfect on July 3, 2007.

4 Responses to “English as a second language, Part I”

  1. Is this true? mwaaa ha ha ha, that is way too funny. I have a similar story. In French we use the word “frisquet” meaning “chilly” (temperature wise). Little did I know that “frisky” was not the direct translation for “frisquet”. I kept using the word “frisky” whenever I meant to say “it’s frisky outside today!” Until my boss one day said: “do you know what “frisky” means?” and I said “chilly…coldish” and he said; “no, it means horny” ha ha ha… it’s quite a skill to speak many languages sometimes but there are tricky words that are totally confusing…

    Thanks for sharing yours. I am planning on adding more of these…… and yes, this is true. I am sure you’ve heard this story a million times, no? Bryan loves to entertain people with my language screw ups….. 🙂

  2. so made me giggle : )

    Good. Keep giggling 😉

  3. Hilarious.
    It’s nice to see you can poke fun at yourself.
    This is a classic, SP

    If I wasn’t able to poke fun at myself, I’d probably no longer be alive. You’d have to know me to understand how many things I am able to screw up, and that’s not only within language. Having said that, I am an excellent fixer and as mentioned before, I usually don’t make the same mistake twice. Never misused ‘laid’ again. 😉

  4. In any language it can be painfull. In Swiss German there is a very close similarity between the words for shoot and sh-t.
    A experience to be remembered was the reaction
    at the council offices as we enquired about hiring the local sh-ting lodge for our next big party.Diru

    I vaguely recall hearing about this. Funny, yes, you would be able to identify with me on this. Good to have you back.

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