Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tree Lopper. Tree Lopper. Tree Lopper.

Oh, those Aussies. Watch the video. Listen to the quaint language...including one brilliant use of "whilst".

The important thing to take away from this story is that the Australians were shipped to a prison colony and eventually managed to evolve the English Language into their own really cool-sounding Australian way of speaking. We Americans, on the other hand, mostly fled the Mother Country (O.K., a lot of us were "transported"), but all we ended up speaking is 'murikin. I think I'm jealous.

Oh. And his pants fell down.

As long as we're talking about language, I'm reminded of a trip GF and I took to Quebec a few years back. In Montreal and Quebec City, you get along fine with English. We had decided to drive further up the St. Lawrence to Charlevoix and stay at Le Manoir Richlieu. As you travel just a few miles out of Quebec City, French becomes the prevailing language and English speakers grow rarer.

I don't know about you, but to my American ear, French just sounds classy. I hear it (without having any idea what's being said), and I just get a warm, upper-crusty feeling all over. Imagine my disappointment when my first opportunity to try out my mostly non-existent French came when we arrived at a construction site on the two-lane highway we were following. We were the only car stopped, so we were right next to the flagman with his "Arret" sign.

The first clue that I might be attributing more snob appeal to French speakers than they, maybe, deserved was the flagman's attire. No, I didn't exactly expect him to be standing on that cold highway in tux and tails, but the greasy jacket, partially uncovered beer belly and utterly pedestrian "plumber's butt" was something of a let down. Not to be deterred, we whipped out our handy sheet of "useful French phrases" and settled on "Où pouvons-nous trouver la bonne bière ?" (Where can we find the good beer?). He responded, pleasantly enough, with a run-on string of French and a flurry of pointing...which we completely failed to comprehend.

I do like to think that I heard a distinct lilt of elegance in the fart he used to punctuate his directions.

Oh, let us not forget that my little brother and sister turn 40 today. Happy Birthday M & D!


Some dude stuck in the Midwest said...

I had the same problem when visiting Paris. I would learn a phrase, and having a good ear would pronounce it adequately enough that the French would understand me.. and then proceed to respond to me in French, which of course I couldn't understand.

vince said...

Nathan, even making up words and using a French accent can be a good thing. As long as it sounds authentic. And the person you're trying to impress hasn't a clue.

Yep, I did.

Random Michelle K said...

Note: Thank goodness for curvy hips.

And I think whilst is a perfectly serviceable word now, here, in the US!

Jim Wright said...

I had the same problem when visiting Paris.


Your pants fell down?

Some dude stuck in the Midwest said...

Yep, right smack in the middle of the Louvre. It's my fault that now every Parisian believes that Americans wear boxers.


MWT said...

Heheheh. Sometimes I just go straight to English and pretend I know nothing, if an appearance of good Mandarin will make them think I know more vocab than I do. It's faster that way.

I've always thought spoken French sounded guttural. But it's very nice when sung.

MWT said...

Oh, also: happy birthday, Nathan's "littler" siblings! :)

(I put it in quotes because both of my younger siblings are much bigger than me.)

Random Michelle K said...

Ooh! Thanks MWT, missed that!

Happy birthday to YOU!
Happy birthday to YOU!
Happy birthday Nathan's siblings
Happy Birthday to YOU!

neurondoc said...

Good thing he didn't wear the Mickey Mouse boxers that morning. And why do you even know about this anyway?

Nathan said...


I keep my international team scouring the world for interesting tidbits.

neurondoc said...

Thank you for clearing that up. :-)