Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Saying Stuff Wrong



As anyone who has ever lived away from home -- or, heck, even spent time in a multilingual family (both apply to me) -- knows, dealing with two different languages can get you mangling words, grammar, and complete sentence construction. Look, I am no language purist. I believe that language is a tool to convey your message, and you can use whichever words and phrases you need in order to get your point across. That said, I am a writer and an occasional English language proofreader and, as such, it still makes my eyes or ears burn when I see or hear blatant misuses of the English language. So you can only imagine how I felt during my recent visit to America, a friend pointed out to me that when I speak to the Captain, I not only take on a slight accent, but I also use funny expressions. I had been slightly aware of the modifications, but didn't know it was THAT obvious. Oh well, like I said, I guess that is one of the side effects of expatdom, and what better place to air it on this blog about my expat life. So, now, for your reading pleasure, here are

THE TOP 5 NON-WORDS AND GRAMMATICALLY INCORRECT PHRASES I NOW USE ON A REGULAR BASIS

1) "Thanks God" - Usage: "Thanks God we got here in time." Correct phrase: "Thank God"
2) "Let's go sit in the shadow." - Correct: "Let's go sit in the shade."
3) "Let's sit on the sun." - Correct: "Let's sit in the sun." (which I guess is still funny-sounding)
4) "This is very touristical." - Correct: "This is very touristic."
5) "She got a baby." - Correct: "She had a baby." (I actually rarely use this last one, because it really makes me cringe)

The last one also reminds me of a whole other list I could write of Slovenian appropriations of English words that are all totally wrong (like saying "yooohoo!" instead of "yahoo!"), but I'll save them for another day. I'm much more interested in hearing your language foibles. Do share!

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have a foreign, non English native speaker friend who lives in Slovenia. She speaks Slovenian fluently but she often uses English anyway. What is really interesting is that her English is sometimes actually Slovenian spoken with English words. Funny, no?

Anonymous said...

Oh, and what you are doing is actually a very common linguistic phenomenon called linguistic adaptation.

alcessa said...

ahhh, linguistic adaptation... how I love thee...

I would worry about my German, but I really love to make my husband laugh - I also like to laugh a lot. So it is OK to mix things up, especially if you work at home and no other Germans can hear you...

But (boy oh boy), I've been living in Germany for 10 years and my German is getting worse week by week. Since I mostly translate into Slovene, I spend my days thinking in Slovene and when I need German, I simply translate Slovene constructions into German. And they can be quite funny sometimes. I can even do English with German accent nowadays. French spoken with Slovene or German accent, it depends. :-D

I don't think I understand the difference between sitting in the shade and in the shadow, though?

Anonymous said...

Doesn't shadow usually refer to a specific object, while shade is more general? So you could say for example let's go sit in the shadow of that tree but speaking generally you would say let's go sit in the shade? This makes sense to me when I think about it but I'm not sure I would always remember to use the correct phrase in a conversation.

The Glasvegan said...

When I lived in Italy, my English would become really mangled sometimes. "I forgot to obliterate (stamp) my ticket on the bus," "There wants (it takes) two hours to get there"... Sometimes it was funny, sometimes embarrassing!

'Drea said...

Hilarious.

I don't have any language foibles that I know of but I love listening to people mix their native language with English.

I like what you said about language being a tool to convey your message. It's even better when people use gestures and their native language to convey a message to an English language speaker...

Nikita said...

Awesome! I was just talking about this today. I totally modify my speech when talking to my German boyfriend.

He says stuff like "she got a baby" on a regular basis, LOL! So I can identify. Also, he mixes up his prepositions on a regular basis, saying things like "the car is ON the parking lot". He'll also add "s" onto words incorrectly and get his verb tenses wrong, like "I eat my cerealS yesterday". I try to correct him but the mistakes are fossilized, for the most part, and I find myself talking like that to him and using his expressions more and more each day.

uncagedbirds said...

I have this problem living with my Dutch partner in Germany. Although he understands German, he's still getting his "sea legs" when it comes to speaking it regularly. His English is pretty great, though. I understand Dutch fairly well, but am mostly self-taught. My German is more or less fluent. At home he speaks to me in Dutch and I speak to him in English, so it gets a bit hairy when we are communicating with one another around Germans. Sometimes we both lapse into this strange trilingual gibberish that probably no one understands but us!

Trina

Anonymous said...

Hey now, you can't blame the yahoo -> juhu thing entirely on us, we got it from the Germans! ;)