Aramis - le mousquetaire literé Version française  Union Flag  
      Château de Maupas      
 
 

 

Home

Translation

Contact

Foreign trading

Find a Linguist

Become a Linguist

Testimonials

CV info

Trados user

CIOL Member

A true story of failed communication

This episode occurred many years ago on a journey. Try as I might I no longer know where but it was probably in or to Spain.

Whatever the form of transport, seating was in rows, like on a plane or possibly a ferry.
Seated in front of me was a middle aged couple, the man being portly, red faced and possible the prototype for Captain Mainwaring - complete with bristling moustache.
At some point in the journey, it became apparent to me that free drinks were being served.
The steward duly arrived at my side and asked in his native tongue, which we'll assume was Spanish,
"Would you like a drink, sir?"
Being a reasonably fluent Spanish speaker at the time, I, of course, understood what I was being asked and replied,
"Yes, please. Red wine."
I was duly served my glass of red and he moved on to the couple in front.
"Would you like a drink, sir?
"What? Don't understand."
Universal drinking gesture from steward and questioning expression.
"Ah, Yes. Scotch and soda."
"¿Qué? no comprendo"
"SCOTCH..AND..SODA!"
Shrug and spread of hands....
"S C O T C H.... A N D.... S O D A!"
Shrug and spread of hands and walks off to next passenger.

I could have stepped in to help him, of course, but his whole attitude bristled with arrogant indignation that the blighter couldn't speak English. Moreover, he made no attempt to change what he was saying to try to make himself understood. I suspect that, if he had changed it to "Whiskey and soda", he might have got somewhere - despite the fact that made no effort to be polite either. No "please, "thank you", not "Sorry. I didn't understand."
As I result I sat there sipped my wine contentedly and simply thought "Serves you right."

So you see, the myth that if you say it "LOUDER.... AND.... S LO W E R!" you will get through to Johnny Foreigner, is a myth and just does not work unless the person has at least some idea about English.

 

 

CIOL logo

Images © Peter Baron (Except CIOL & SDL logos, which are used with permission)