As is expected when someone speaks a language that is not in their mother tongue, a few words are often pronounced incorrectly. Most of the time this does not create a problem, but now and again this can cause HUGE embarrassment. Mostly for those of us on the receiving end.
At some point or another, all my Greek relatives have struggled with certain English words. Whilst understandable, you would think that having heard the word YELLED…I mean…repeated back to them a thousand times, they would start to get the message.
Having spent most of his educational years living in Germany, my father’s accent is particularly warped.
Never mind your Ps and Qs, my father’s Vs and Ws will have you lost in Greek translation!
One of his favourite pastimes is to lose his vest.
This results in him constantly asking one of life’s unanswered questions:
“Where is my West?! Have YOU seen MY WEST?! MY WEST!!!”
This has now become a daily battle, and the quest to find his vest continues.
My in-laws are just as verbally challenged.
I had to explain to my father-in-law (several times) that I was not going to wear a whale on my wedding day as I didn’t feel that it suited my style of dwess…I mean, DRESS.
Of course he actually meant veil.
Most embarrassingly, he has been known to ask unassuming young male friends (of mine, not his), if they have a gayfriend.
Disturbingly, this is usually accompanied by a wink and a raise of the eyebrow.
Needless to say this question has often been met with ill-concealed horror by those who have failed to realise that he means girlfriend.
You realised that right…?
Despite my pleads, “Where is your gayfriend tonight?”, “Have you left your gayfriend at home?” and “You should have a gayfriend”, continue to play like a broken record.
Even when the words are pronounced correctly, confusion can arise if they are not used in the right context.
Whereas in English, one would say “turn off the light” and “turn on the television”, in Greek one would say “κλείστε το φως” – “kleiste to fos” which translates as “close the light”. So instead of turning something on or off, they would simply open or close it.
Nothing too confusing about that but this also extends to closing the oven, the switch, the hose, the computer, etc.
One school friend was so baffled by my father’s accent that to this day she still maintains that our home answering machine was welcoming her to Alton Towers theme park, rather than asking her to leave a message after the beep.
And so on that note, I’m off to buy a west top with my gayfriend who is getting married and needs to look for a whale.
Close the computer when you’re done.
- Speak English Please! Or Is It Greek? (ginalawlessbooks.wordpress.com)