Posts Tagged ‘language’

A Scene from Gubbay Hall

May 7, 2009

We spend all of our lives trying to move from one place to the next. Or at least I have so far. I cannot be satisfied where I am. I move in to a place, I unpack, I sit in the chair. I stare out the window. Make a cup of coffee. Sigh. Go outside. Have a smoke. Watch the sun set behind my new neighborhood. The next day, the room is a mess, I’ve accidentally blown out the power, and I need to get the hell out of there.

The dorms over in Middlesex University in the northern suburbs of London were called halls. I know the difference in language is slight, but the little changes in terms added up over time. I found myself constantly jingling from the large amount of change that the British use in their currency system. I was not sure what the difference was between one quid and one pound; it turns out they meant the same thing.

Simon cracked open another tall can of Stella and looked at me with a dim twinkle in his eye. The room was a chaotic mess of rubbish, bitter, and wankers (which was our lot). I was finally starting to understand more than three words at a time that came out of Simon’s mouth; his accent was thick, but not nearly as indecipherable as Alex’s, who was from Manchester. We were discussing the differences between American and British slang. I was trying to keep up with the Brits as they spewed out talk in their strange code.

“Yeahp, Alex is a chav,” Simon mumbled, smiling.

Alex hit him on the arm. “Ye best not listen to this bloke,” Alex laughed, reaching for another beer. “He’s a bloody tosser.”

I frowned. “Tosser?”

Alex laughed. “Ye know. A wanker.”

I was still confused. Alex, sensing that his insult was lost in translation, made a vulgar gesture with his free hand. “Ye know, when there’s no tart around, ye have a wank. Yer tossing. Simon is a tosser.”

I nodded. The room erupted with laughter.

It turns out that a chav is a derogatory term for someone of the lower class. Chav seems to be the British equivalent of the American white trash. When I was hanging out with that crowd, generally I did not hear them refer to each other as blokes or chaps. But there were a hell of a lot of tossers and chavs. Oh, and of course, I was the token yank of the group. They flattered me.

Selective memory, I suppose. Paired with some wanderlust.

-Michael

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Prices are Writing on the Menu

April 28, 2009

Relating to the the previous post, “Do You Speak Engrish?” I found this sign outside of a cafe in Verona, Italy. 

reccommended-retail4

I think it means that the prices vary when you sit inside or outside. But obviously that’s not exactly what it says. In written word or language, when things get lost in translation, not only do their meanings change, but they sound downright stupid.  

I guess it’s entertaining, I mean I got such a kick out of the sign that I took a picture of it, but for those of us looking for jobs in the writing industry, maybe we shouldn’t be so worried about the current economic situation. If whoever  wrote this sign can get a job, so can you.