Mid-month Ada and I are flying to the UK . We’ll take a train over to Poznan , here in Poland , and fly from there to Leeds , England . From Leeds we will find a train , or perhaps a bus , up to Harrogate . I have a nephew in Harrogate .
I forgot to bring my American/British dictionary with me to Europe , so I suppose that I’ll have to wing-it for the few days of our visit . My nephew is an American . His wife is Chinese – American , born and raised in China . Their two young daughters , I’m sure , are tri-lingual by now .
But , I’m not worried much about getting stuck while I’m over there in the UK . Ada is there to interpret if need be . She’s done it before .
For one previous visit to the UK I needed Ada’a help as soon as we arrived at Gatwick in London . I never sleep on planes ; but , nevertheless, I had arranged beforehand to rent a car and to drive off from the airport . I realized too late that this was a bad idea . Dead tired , I tried talking to the English girl at the Hertz desk . It was a Friday . I remember that because she seemed to be telling me that our reserved car wouldn’t be ready until Monday . I don’t know what part of the UK she was from , but the accent was marmalade -thick . I couldn’t understand any of what she was saying . Not a word . I thought that I caught the word Monday , though , in there among all the rest . It was British English , so I didn’t get any of it .
I was getting mad about the Monday thing . ” No , we can’t wait until Monday . It’s Friday . We need the car today ,” I told her . She repeated in her language whatever it was that she was trying to communicate to me .
What I heard amid all of the indecipherable stuff was , ” Mondayo , Mondayo “. I repeated my insistence that we couldn’t wait until Monday .
“No , no ,” Ada said . ” A Mondeo is a car . And our car is ready . ” Oh . Okay . I hadn’t understood a word of what the girl was saying but , evidently , Ada had .
The poor girl asked Ada to interpret for her . ” Tell him ………………….” and so I , also , told Ada what to tell the girl . We got it all straightened out through the Polish interpreter . Where there’s a will there’s a way .
I’ve picked up a few words of the lingo , though , recently . I hope that some of them might come in handy while we’re over there :
steeple-jack , tattered silk , dog’s dinner , quay , knitted cloche hat , nipper , tramshed , ramshackle , gilt, sod off , anoraks, mudlark , ironmonger , tunnellers, almshouse , harrowing , languishing , harbingers , doorcases , beacon , banknotes , maritime , tenner , floristry .
There’s more to language than words , though , of course. How one strings words together is important , too ; eg . ” pop into the loo ” , or ” for a tenner ” or ” have a chin wag ” . And , of course , the accent is a critical component . The UK has several distinct and difficult regional accents . In Somerset ( Zummerzet ) , for example , each and every word includes an R sound , and if the word already includes an R sound , then they add another with a trill . And the S sounds becomes Z . Somerset is south and we’ll be up north in Yorkshire . Knowing a little about the Somerset sound won’t help us in Harrogate .
I’m no lingo expert . I have a theory , however , about the multiple British accents , all distinct while being crammed together on such a small island . Always vulnerable to invasion from abroad , the Brits decided long ago to confuse any invading force . Every small piece of the land , over the next dell , every small region , had to come up with their own distinct sound . Enemies would be confused . They’d be delayed as they tried to figure out , again and again and yet again , dell by dale , what these people were saying .
I’m practicing my best British accent . It’s a stereotypical one , I know . It’s similar to the upper-crust-type accents affected by early Hollywood movie stars . It’ll be at least as good as the American accents imitated by British actors , especially in gangster roles . It might work for me in England if I need to ask directions or when I want to buy a sandwich , or maybe to find a public house for a pint of bitter . I’ll be gobsmacked if I want any extra bloody aggro if I’m knackered when I get there . Bob’s your uncle !