I recently found out that I don’t speak English, I speak American. Seriously, who knew, all these years I thought it was English.
Here is what happened, while in a meeting with our subcontractor one of the managers from my company apologized for talking too fast. This is something some Americans do occasionally, and my manager was apologizing, saying something like, English isn’t your first language and that maybe he was speaking too fast, and that’s when the subcontractors manager said, ‘You don’t speak English, you speak American’, and it was not said in the most polite manner either, like there is something wrong with the way we speak.
At the moment I smiled (to myself) and thought, it must be tough when English isn’t your first or second language. Since I’m responsible for training the Nationals in a couple of areas I asked a couple coworkers if they had a hard time following what I say, they told me they understand most of what I’m saying (this explains some of the errors). An Australian coworker takes great pride in his English and loves to tell us Americans that we don’t speak proper English, we use too much slang and have destroyed the true language. When he got on his soap box I thought about some friends who live in Austria they have their slang too, anyone know what ‘My shout’ means?
So I started thinking about all the different forms of English I’ve encountered while living in America. In my recent past I attended a Bridal shower in Louisiana (those folks know how to put on a shower!), while socializing with the bride’s family I met a group of ladies that spoke French with a twist. I looked for someone to interpret for me, come to find out the ladies were speaking French Cajun English. After a couple of a mimosa we had no trouble understanding each other. When I first moved to Texas I had a neighbor who was fixin’ to do this or that. That was a new word in my world. Fixin’ means planning I soon found out. Another word I learned was y’all and the plural ’all y’all’, never knew you had a plural to you all but then I realized it was the same as ‘you guys’ which is what I grew up with. When my husband and I lived in the North East part of the States we took a road trip one weekend and ended up in north Maine at a nice restaurant enjoying a quiet dinner when I hear this language that I assumed was a form of some Canadian language, so I asked my hubby, ‘what language are they speaking?’ He said Mainer. Add another one to the list of America English. I grew up in California, and our English was filled with a lot of slang and I’m sure that it was used around the world, and I am sure we all understood each other at that time.
For the next two weeks I’m going to travel parts of Europe I have never been too, so I’m interested to see how much my American English is understood while communicating in the home of proper English.
What I have learned in Mountasia this past week, is just because we all speak English it does not mean we all speak the same language.