Language Differences

You know how it is when you talk to someone with a different dialect from your own. You notice it and enjoy hearing the difference. Sometimes it humors you.

For instance, I worked with a girl from Long Island, New York. Neither of us respected the boss much. No, this wasn’t the media job from the “My Funny Email Subscription” post. It was my job at a university.

This woman would always say, “I hate ha,” instead of I hate her, referring to our boss, and it always made me laugh. She would also talk to her brother on the phone at work, which is when her dialect would come on really thick. Whenever he would say he had to to get off the phone, she would say, “Why you gotta rush? Where you goin’? What are ya a docta now or what?”

I miss listening to her, but now my youngest stepdaughter is dating a guy, Rob, originally from Staten Island, New York.

While his New York dialect isn’t quite as thick as the lady I used to work with, I love when he imitates his mom, which usually starts with an exasperated, “Oh my Gahd Rahb…”

Once on a visit I asked if he liked lentils because I had made some lentil soup. He said, “Oh, yea, my mom makes that.” Then he imitated her, raising his voice and trying to sound like an Italian New York woman, which is hysterical with his natural raspy voice, “Raahhb the len-tahlls are ready!”

English As A Second Language

It is my love of linguistics makes me enjoy hearing different dialects and regional sayings, but another thing that is really fun and funny is when someone with a different first language altogether is learning your language as their second.

For example, I took some art classes in Italy, and while there we met some Italian students. We were lucky because one of the American students, a girl who had lived in Italy until she was 8 years old, knew Italian, and one of the Italian students, a guy, knew English…pretty well. We chuckled, though, because he would pronounce every letter in a word, like the e in tired – so it would be like tie red. Or, pronounce the ch in character like you would in the word cherry.

Of course I’ve done my share of mispronunciations.

My eldest stepdaughter’s husband is Russian, and, of course, I have made him teach me all the bad words in his language, which I have to write in my own phonetics, and I still butcher it. This usually sends my step son-in-law and my stepdaughter into laughter at my attempts at the language. (My stepdaughter has been learning the language since high school and is rather fluent.)

Or, I will read parts out of my D!rty Russian slang book, a gift from my youngest stepdaughter one Christmas. I read extremely slow out of it as they try to guess what I am saying. I do so badly that my stepdaughter can’t even begin to understand, so she just rolls her eyes and laughs at me. Her husband, on the other hand, can figure it out. He’ll laugh, correct my mistakes and say, “That’s a gud one.”

One our favorite lines out of the book is: You are nothing but a train-stop whore. I don’t know that I would ever use that, but it is funny nonetheless.

But then there is funny and there is hilarious, and this story about my step son-in-law is classic…

My stepdaughter, who was here for a visit at the time, was talking to her Russian hubby, who had to stay back in Russia this particular trip. They were communicating via Skype.

She asked how his day was, and he said, “My boss is fucking my brains out.”

“Um, no he’s not,” she said.

“Yes, yes, he is fucking my brains out,” and went on to say what particular event happened.

“Um, yea, I think you mean that your boss is fucking with your head.”

And, of course, that is what he meant to say.

After she was finished explaining all this to him, she immediately shared this exchange with us, which we all enjoyed the laughter at his expense.

I shouldn’t laugh too hard, though, because I can’t even speak one word of Russian, except for hello. Meanwhile, with the exception of some slang, my step son-in-law really does pretty darn well with the English language. And, I am not just saying that to fuck your brains out.

One thought on “Language Differences

  1. Pingback: That’s A Terrible Name | Tripping in My Life Fantastic

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