Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Translator Required

I used to think that I spoke English. Not perfect English, mind you, but I always felt that if I had to communicate with someone from another English-speaking nation, I could do so. What I've found is that this may still be true, so long as that person isn't from England.

This week, I am in Minnesota on business and I am working closely with an English engineer. On the whole, he's pretty sharp, but I'm never really sure what the hell he's talking about. While I understand the words that he speaks, the context in which he uses them eludes me. Here are some examples:

-"We need a 3 cored cable." Cores, in the UK, are apparently wires.

-"Do you have a spanner?" Adjustable wrench.

-"He's gone off to have a fag." It seems that smoking and homosexuality are closely linked in England.

-"It seems to have gone a bit wobbly." It's fucked.

-"It's right dodgy in the main." It's completely fucked.

-"Will you have a bang it?" He looked confused when I declined on the grounds that I was saving myself for marriage.

-"I was just taking the piss out of him." I draw the line at do-it-yourself dialysis.

-"He's a bit off his head, today." English people are so polite. This is how they say that someone has their head up their ass.

-"He can get right stroppy." I believe that this is a polite way of saying that someone is an assclown.

-"I'll knock you up at half past 7." I found the ramifications of this statement rather ominous. It turns out that he merely intended to knock on my door at 7:30, which was fortunate because I was fresh out of Deprovera.

I have to say that some of this British civility is wearing off on me. Yesterday, he burned up a motor that is critical to the machine that we're working on. Of course, the motor is made in Turkey and can't be obtained in the US, which means that I won't be leaving early and will probably have to return in 2 weeks. Nevertheless, instead of saying, "Holy shit. How in the hell did you manage to incinerate the least replaceable component on the entire fucking machine?," all I said was, "It's OK. It was acting dodgy, anyway."


At 8:44 AM, Blogger johnny dollar said...

what a wanker :)

all kidding aside, brits are entertaining as hell, imho, but then again i have never had one burn up a turkish motor on me. blimey.

At 10:14 AM, Blogger RevRee said...

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At 10:19 AM, Blogger RevRee said...

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At 10:25 AM, Blogger RevRee said...

You're in Minnesota this week? Has anyone offered you coffee and bars yet?....

I admit, I tried posting this 2 times before, but It's freaking early and I can't type so I had to redo it. BITE ME!

At 10:59 AM, Blogger AnonymousCoworker said...

A punch to the crotch is understood around the world.

At 12:09 PM, Blogger Broadsheet said...

You need UnderGoos!!!

At 7:09 PM, Blogger tfg said...

j$-I got the motor rewound today, so as they say, "No worries, mate."

revree-I'm 30 miles north of Minneapolis, in fact. No coffee and bars, but it's beautiful here. I have to keep reminding myself what it's like winter, so I don't quit my job and move here.

ACW-Yes, but they punch on the left side of the crotch in England.

broadsheet-I will try some of those out at dinner tonight.

At 7:50 PM, Blogger doggerelblogger said...

I can remember being in England and having a Yorkshireman look at me like I was completely looney when I answered a question he'd asked with, "Oh, no, we just got here. We're from Canada." I'm still not sure what he actually wanted to know. Probably what time it was.

At 1:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ask him about the difference between pants and trousers.

At 5:29 PM, Blogger Charles said...

Okay, now I am wondering if I speak English.

Funny thing is, I heard someone say spanner before.

At 12:02 AM, Blogger elcapitanhink said...

Too bad you don't drink, man. It's pretty much the only time you want to be near an Englishman.

Kidding of course. I love all those self-rodgering tossers. And the women with the big foreheads.

At 7:41 PM, Blogger NPR Junky said...

The English are some funny chaps, for sure. One of the guys I work with is British, and quite fun to listen to.

Tally ho!

At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Ed said...

Doers he prattle on about his pudding, custard, pickle or fish and chips? I have been here a while now and I miss those staple foods like mad.

What gets me is that I have to explain what I mean every time I mention those terms here.

Strange thing is though, if an American says hood, trunk, chips etc, I know exactly what they are talking about.


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