Monday, 5 December 2011

Yesterday will be snowy

A colleague reported to me a conversation she had had with Talal, one of the Algerian airmen, whose progress in English has been rather like mine was in maths: negligible.

‘How’s the weather in your town in Algeria?’ she asked him.

‘Same, Algeria. Algeria, same. Tomorrow snow.’

Well, it was a comprehensible reply in the context, as he was able to nod towards the window and the bitter cold day outside. Not what you might hope for after a five month stay with us, though: no subject pronouns, no auxiliary verbs, none of the grammatical nuts and bolts that allow language to range beyond the immediate. Oh, and by ‘tomorrow’, he meant ‘yesterday’.

‘Is he a winch-man?’ I asked, because my only all-winch class two years ago had been up-hill work and I suppose I'm prejudiced.

‘No – a radar operator. You know, absolutely pivotal between the pilot and the winch.’

Shit. If on a Search and Rescue mission Talal transposes, say, 125 degrees and 152 degrees, the result could be messy indeed. I suggested the best we can do at this late stage is teach him to say ‘Oops, sorry…’ He may only need it the once.


Anonymous said...

A post on my Facebook page and the NVC was English speaking. W have no hope

Me " the meeting is at six in the evening."
Nice volunteer chap: "6 a.m.?"
Me "No p.m."
NVC "In the morning?"
Me "No in the evening, at 6 p.m.".
NVC "But I'm not available in the afternoon".
Me: "Well this is in the evening, are you available in the evening?"
NVC "I'm not free until four o'clock so I can't make it."
Me "Ok"
NVC "I could make it in the morning"
Me "It's in the evening"
NVC "Oh"

I think however, that this is an excellent strategy if anyone asks you to do something you find less than attractive.....

Vilges Suola said...

That reads remarkably like a dialogue with a Saudi. (Hush mah mouth)


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