Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It is all about language.

I had heard that a common language is a good way to get to understand people faster. But sometimes I think starting from scratch here, would be easier.

I understand that we have upset some islanders by making comments that were taken to mean something other than what we intended to say. And there are certainly comments made here, that we can take the wrong way.

Remembering that we come from South Africa.

Here someone is 'crook', as in not feeling well, in SA they are 'a crook' as in a thief.

Hearing that someone got 'held up' on the way to church, means a the phone rang, rather than they ran into a crook with a gun.

'Nursing' a baby, means getting a chance to cuddle one, rather than actually breast feeding it.

The list could go on, but I love the differences, although it does sometimes make following a conversation challenging. It shows that we are in a new place, and I love this island with all its idiocyncrases (I can't spell it, but I know what I want to say!) and I hope that in time they will mostly come to like us, and accept that we are well meaning,even if sometimes hard to understand!


  1. Hi,

    I have used the crook one in both senses of the word. In one case it is an adjective, (I'm crook!) and in the other it is a noun (He's a crook!).. I think anyway!..

    I got some strange looks from one of my South African friend when I came to work one day saying I was buggered. I had to explain then that in Australia Buggered can mean many things, but I was using the "Tired" definition.

  2. I have the same problem out here in the US. Sometimes people just stare blankly at me and sometimes they just raise their eyebrows and I realise I've said something strange to them.

    Buggered, as in Australia, means tired in my native Yorkshire. So does 'fagged out'. It's not my fault Americans turned that into something derogatory, yet I have to catch myself to avoid insult. It's a good job I stopped smoking, that's all I can say.

  3. What was it Oscar Wilde said? Something about two cultures separated by a common language? :)

  4. Cheryl: it was Mark Twain, in reference to the USA and England.

  5. Thanks, Flinthart. I often remember the quote but forget who exactly wrote it :)

  6. Tonight we are taking 2 French speaking boys, to Scottish dancing on an Australian island, the mind boggles at the thought of all the translating that is going to happen!