Learning A New Language

Having retired to Panama I’m having to deal with learning a new language. My third, actually. And while it’s a challenge it’s quite fun.

Yesterday I stumbled upon a blog by a French girl living in Australia describing the challenges she’s facing dealing with a new language. Now, Australian is sort of English in the same way the language of the U.S. is sort of English. They both derive from the same roots but each has veered off slightly and have become distinct in their own ways.

Also, yesterday I stumbled across this post in Bits and Pieces which came from A Public Flogging and there’s no telling where he might have appropriated it from. But I think it’s hilarious and is a good example of what people go through when they travel outside their linguistic comfort zone.

In 1965, in a noble attempt to help the rest of us understand Australians, Alistair Morrison published Let Stalk Strine, a glossary of terms used Down Under:

air fridge: average
bandry: boundary
dismal guernsey: decimal currency
egg nishner: air conditioner
garbler mince: a couple of minutes
marmon dead: Mom and Dad
rise up lides: razor blades
sag rapes: sour grapes
split nair dyke: splitting headache
stewnce: students
tiger look: take a look

“Aorta mica laura genst all these cars cummer ninner Sinny. Aorta have more buses. An aorta put more seats innem so you doan tefter stan aller toym — you carn tardly move innem air so crairded.”

The book went through 17 impressions in one year, a sign the problem had gotten completely out of hand. Just a few months before it appeared, the English author Monica Dickens had been signing copies of her latest book in a Sydney shop when a woman handed her a copy and said, “Emma Chisit.” Dickens inscribed the volume “To Emma Chisit” and handed it back. “No,” said the woman, leaning forward: “Emma Chisit?”


Filed under Learning a new language, Living Abroad, Retirement Abroad

2 responses to “Learning A New Language

  1. Ken Hulme

    Several years ago, some Ukranian friends had trouble with a butcher who could not understand when they tried to order “two pounds langvidge, plis.” After much backing & forthing and dictionary and friend consultation, the butcher discovered they were trying to order “two pounds of (beef) tongue, please.”

    Good one, Ken.

  2. It took some time before I “got it”.

    Emma Chisit. Now, that’s funny. So is “Bits and Pieces”, as a matter of fact.

    Good reading for an afternoon break on a really hot day – 115F heat index isn’t my idea of a good time. 😉

    I laughed SO hard. Emma Chisit indeed. It’s nice up here on the hill. Probably upper 70s.