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 .Dandy man

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 .Jim Jeffries

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 . mae murrayBob’s your uncle !



Filed under humor

5 responses to “engl-ish

  1. Some yrs ago, Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments just out on film, & it was blooody ere to get yr ear ’round the talk.

    “Where are you and where can we meet? I suppose you’re visiting at some castle or other and have already acquired the correct accent. Perhaps even you have married a lord.”

    “These remarks were delivered with a series of little jerks and pecks, of
    roulades of shrillness, and in an accent that was as some fond recall of
    good English, or rather of good American, in adversity.”

    and from Twain’s intro. to Huck Finn:
    “I make this explanation for the reason that without it many readers would suppose that all these characters were trying to talk alike and not succeeding.”

  2. Oh boy, a British accent too?!

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