We’re all speaking English…..aren’t we?

Three weeks today I had my operation.   Three weeks now of convalescing, watching the world go by and wondering when I will be able to join in again.  I did try to go out for a coffee yesterday and thought I’d ‘run’ to the Bank to do one task whilst out – ha, what a laugh.   I felt like I was in one of those movies where everything around you goes into slow motion and you become the centre of attention as I crawled, one foot slowly in front of the other, across the crosswalk, at the speed of a sluggish snail.   I frantically looked around to see if I could see a little old lady that I could offer to help across the road…although thinking about it now, she probably would have been going too fast for me!  So I can report that although the recovery is going ok, the little blue and large yellow tabs are gone and I’m standing up straighter in a more homo sapien than ape-like stance, the walking, lifting and carrying are still a bridge too far.

The generosity of new friends has been fantastic – lunch brought to the house, homemade soups, vegetables from their garden, lemon tarts, grocery shopping done for me, taxi services and numerous calls, emails and texts.   It made me reflect that in the three years since we moved here, how lucky I am to have established such good friendships and a support network.   When I left home, I thought I would never have the friendships built up over a 20 year period, of neighbours, school mums, work mates and close buddies.   However, whilst they have not for sure been replaced, I have been fortunate to have met many kind, like-minded, funny people, who now form my new circle of friends and share my experiences – good and bad.

This got me thinking (I mean, what else have I been doing for the last three weeks).   The culture in Canada is so different to Europe.   As a very small example, NOBODY just calls around to the house – by calling Canadians mean phoning, and get togethers are generally pre-arranged, and not spontaneous stop-bys. It was so alien to us all when we first moved here, no longer a tourist, but an immigrant.   Trying hard to fit in, when it was plainly obvious to everyone (strange Irish accents aside), that we were newcomers.   Pretty much every aspect of life was a mini-adventure and we would sit around the dinner table for many, many months, swopping stories about our daily embarrassments, new vocabulary, questions.   To this day we have our favourite stories that give us a giggle when recounted.   So, today I thought I would share with you some new vocabulary which we have learnt over time and in doing so, hope to save all you new Irish (and others perhaps) some embarrassment or confusion. (We all know about the garbage, the sidewalk, arugula (rocket), green onions (spring onions), etc. etc. but do you know the following? (You can do this as a mini-quiz if you like!! answers at the bottom).

Explain the following (English Paper 1, Leaving Certificate 2013)

1. She lives kitty corner to me.

2. Do you have a bobby pin for my bang?  (Asked of my daughter her first week in school – she was left with her mouth open)

3. Please bring in a duo-tang tomorrow.

4. Don’t forget to bring your fanny pack (WHAT, WHAT)

5. Watch your directionals (said by my driving-instructor)!

6. Good eye, good eye (shouted at a batter during a baseball game).

7. Meet you at the bleachers (at a baseball game).  (There is a whole world of vocab around baseball which is a site unto itself!).

8. My bad.

9. (This final one is probably more of ‘teenage-speak’ than Canadian but as it had me flummoxed I thought I’d throw it in). “The rents are down“, said a teenage girl.

Remember, we’ve all come from somewhere else and can only learn from our differences and diversity. So, be kind to new people this week!

****************************************************************************

How’d you do………………………….

1. diagonal

2. hair-clip (slide) for my fringe

3. project binder

4.  a bum-bag

5. indicators

6. In baseball, when a batter does not swing at a ball thrown by the pitcher, they are deemed to have judged it out and deliberately not swung – hence they have a good eye (at home they’d be called an eegit or blind or a blind eegit!). It took us a number of weeks (my husband and I sitting in the bleachers (oops) to realise that the crowd were not shouting “Good-day” at the players (say good-eye really quickly three times in an Australian accent and you’ll get what I mean), which of course made no sense at all.

7. stands (to sit on) at a baseball game

8. This is said (instead of sorry) by way of an apology i.e. oh, it was me that did that, it was my fault, and I’m sorry about that (except that the person generally does not look at all sorry!)

9. The parents are ok (with my plans)!

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3 thoughts on “We’re all speaking English…..aren’t we?

  1. As a Canadian born woman, I found this language bit very interesting. I love reading about it as it reminds me that culture really permeates through everything, making me completely unaware that someone may not understand these terms. It may be true that we are all speaking English but I guess we can have very different ways of doing so. My husband became acutely aware of this while traveling in Scotland. He thought he was doing quite with understanding everyone there, until 2 Scots started speaking to each other, and then he had absolutely no clue!

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