Tag Archives: language

A holiday Latin lesson…

29 Nov

Image Source: http://www.dumpaday.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/funny-unicorn.jpg

Thursday we were all loaded up in Alan’s car, heading over the river and through the woods with his kids in the backseat, on our way to their Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving.

His son, who is in sixth grade, was playing a game on his phone. “Oh no!” he exclaimed. “I just killed a unihorse!”

“A unihorse?” Alan asked. “Is that a single horse or a horse with a small horse coming out of his head?”

“No,” his son corrected, “It’s like a unicorn but it’s called a unihorse.”

“That doesn’t make sense,” Alan continued. “Because in Latin ‘uni’ means ‘one’ so technically that means one horse.”

“Yeah,” his son agreed. “It sounds funny, but when I was younger, I used to think unicorn meant one corn.”

“Well, that kind of makes sense,” Alan offered, “Because in Latin, ‘corn’ means ‘horn.'”

After a five second pause, his son said, “Well, that certainly gives a whole new meaning to the word ‘corny.'”

I only parlez-français when it comes to champignons.

2 Nov

Our Learning Services team supports our offices around the world. I tell you this to explain why I was dialing Paris at 10am.

I thought I was calling someone who expected my call. We had a meeting invitation on our calendars, and I’d checked our corporate directory to ensure I had her direct line. But somehow, between trying to remember the international exchange code and entering her number, I managed to enter the general office number.

So I was surprised when she answered with a flowing sentence of French, beginning with the only word I understood: Bonjour. I responded with a Bonjour of my own, before switching to English in a “let’s drop this joke” kind of tone and said, “Hey! It’s Alison. Are you ready for me?”

Silence on the other end. Then, “Bonjour? Repetez, s’il vous plait…”

Which is when I realized it was NOT the person I was trying to reach. So, digging deep into my dusty mental reference drawer, I called upon the French I’d learned eight years ago when I briefly lived in France.

I strung together a sentence which – roughly translated – was intended to communicate the following: “Hi. My apologies. I speak little French. I am American. I am searching for Perrine. Is she there?”

The woman on the other end exclaimed like she finally understood me; then I was put on hold. After a brief delay, another woman answered. “Bonjour?”

Cautiously, I answered. “Perrine?”

Apparently not, because her response was a long sentence which left me stumped.

In my defense, even at the height of my French comprehension, I heavily relied on visual cues. The phone was always my enemy. Taking a deep breath, I had flashbacks of two other French phone calls from my past.

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If only Americans talked like this.

17 Aug

I love the way Aussies talk.

I’m here for work, so in addition to hanging out with our Australian team, I’ve been able to get out and meet a client or two, and sit in on an interview this week.

My second day in town I attended a visit with the Studio Manager of a large financial institution. He was an incredibly nice guy, who spent an hour helping us understand the organization structure and business challenges he faced. It was a great meeting, but I had to stifle giggles when the conversation shifted to industry trends.


“We’re seeing a big push to move digital,” he said. “Going paperless and all that…”

The agent with me made a comment about how quickly the technology is evolving and the opportunities for mobile application development, and was met by affirmation from the client. His observation:

“Just the other day, I was on the train home and looked over and saw a wee little baby in a pram, licking an iPad.”

I love that. I can’t imagine that sentence ever surfacing during a client visit in the US. Sigh. I love the Aussies.

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You say tomato, I say Gestapo.

28 Sep

Saturday morning we ran to the farmer’s market so I could pick up some fruit and greens for a salad. (Side note: I discovered kiwi berries, which, if you like kiwi fruit but HATE peeling them, this is the fruit for you – think of grapes that taste like kiwis.)

On the way there, we were breaking one of my pet urban rules: we were walking three-across on the sidewalk. Fortunately, my mom was tuned into our surroundings, and realized someone coming up behind us would need to get around. She stepped aside, grabbed my dad and me by the shoulders, and loudly announced, “Let’s wait a second so this gentleman can pass.”

The thing is, that gentleman had breasts. No sooner were the words out of my mom’s mouth, than my dad and I exchanged an uncomfortable look and my mom clapped her hand over her mouth. We dropped back a few paces and let the woman gain some ground before we spoke again.

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Should I be scared of my stove, or the guy who labeled it?

18 Jun

The other night when Alan was over, waiting for a flank steak to broil in the oven, we started looking at all the dials on my new stove. And we had a few observations.

First, I’m not sure I understand the function of a “PROOF” button on my stove. Will it spellcheck my meals? Will it demonstrate that the food is, in fact, cooking? Seriously – what the hell is that about? And even more frightening – a “PROBE” function? Are you an appliance or my gyno? And if you are an appliance, what dill-hole named that function?

And this one can only be explained by a bad copywriter (or a witty one):

Seriously. I think even second graders know that burning bridges is not a desirable thing.