The German air controllers at Frankfurt Airport are a short-tempered lot. They not only expect one to know one's gate parking location, but how to get there without any assistance from them. So it was with some amusement that we (a Pan Am 747) listened to the following exchange between Frankfurt ground control and a British Airways 747, call sign "Speedbird 206": Speedbird 206:
"Top of the morning, Frankfurt, Speedbird 206 clear of the active runway."
Ground: "Guten Morgen. You vill taxi to your gate."
The big British Airways 747 pulled onto the main taxiway and slowed to a stop.
Ground: "Speedbird, do you not know where you are going?"
Speedbird 206: "Stand by a moment, Ground, I'm looking up our gate location now."
Ground (with arrogant impatience): "Speedbird 206, haff you never flown to Frankfurt before?"
Speedbird 206 (coolly): Yes, in 1944. In another type of Boeing, but just to drop something off. I didn't stop."
A Pan Am 727 flight engineer waiting for start clearance in Munich overheard the following:
Lufthansa (in German): Ground, what is our start clearance time?"
Ground (in English): "If you want an answer you must speak English."
Lufthansa (in English): "I am a German, flying a German airplane, in Germany. Why must I speak English?"
Unknown voice (in a beautiful British accent): "Because you lost the bloody war!"
That's exactly a very good example how German humour isn't understood elsewhere: children start learning English here in Kindergarten (nursery school). And those, who can't speak it properly either become pilots or controllers in airport towers.
It is a good feeling when it happens.
Sometimes tourists are better informed than the locals.
Yes! I was just in Venice and looking for Di Piazza de San Marco - and I mean looking, walking, following the signs that pointed in both directions at the same time and finally I asked this guy who seemed to know where he was going if he knew how to get there and turns out he was from Boston! But first I had asked, 'Do you speak English (because my Italian SUCKS!- although I do know that 'sinestra' means 'left'- I've known that since I was a kid and we were learning about how lefties have always been reviled in different cultures throughout the world- I still have no idea what the word for right is).
Anyway - we got talking and he said, 'You're American, right? Where you from?'
I said, 'New Jersey,' to which he replied 'Oh Jersey - I aint helping you then because the Giants just beat the Patriots.'
I said, 'Yeah - well I don't care that much about football - so it wouldn't be like you'd be helping a Giants fan - and anyway I was born in Texas if that helps.'
(We were both aware that we were joking - Americans would get these jokes).
So anyway he helped me and then I sprung it on him that I AM a baseball fan and my team is the Yankees (who are the arch rivals of the Boston Red Sox).
Lots of good feeling and laughter ensued all around.
I've never run into any traffic in England that can compare to the gridlock that's a regular daily occurance on the I95 corridor between Baltimore and Washington- 60 miles can take three hours. I finally learned to leave North Carolina at 4:00 in the afternoon, hitting Washington at 8o pm after rush hour and making it to Jersey by midnight. A ten hour trip turns into an 8 hour trip - voila!
Yeah, whenever I take a roadtrip I think of my Dad. We'd leave Jersey at 5:00 in the morning - always stopped at a state park called Cedars of Lebanon outside of Nashville, Tennessee where he'd rent a cabin. We'd swim in the pool and walk in the woods while he napped the next day - then we'd spend a day in Opreyland - then we'd head the rest of the way to Texas- he liked to drive at night. I always knew we were getting close when I'd see the sign for Texarkana.
Whenever I hear this song - I think of him:
Here, I like roadtrippin' to Scotland, Wales, Cornwall - and I can't say I've ever run into traffic. Everything does take a little longer though.
Osso - yes, I saw the snow in Rome - so lovely, but I have to say it made me smile when I got back to England and heard what I consider to be the lovely, lilting Welsh accents all around me. I don't like that posh cut-glass British accent like they all have on the BBC. Give me Scouse, Brummie, Welsh, Somerset - any of the regional accents over here any day of the week over that torturous sounding posh British accent that sounds like it takes so much effort to maintain.
A nice song early on a dark and cold morning - just glad I don´t have to drive anyplace today.
On the other hand I like to take a train whenever I can instead of a car. Driving is not what it used to be - too much traffic.
I enjoy trainrides - one almost always meet some nice people to chat with.
I like the English dialects too, but I like dialects as a rule no matter what language it is - as long as I can at least understand the language.
Years ago I was working as a guide for British groups travelling in Denmark.
In one group was a man, who spoke cockney, which I did not understand at all.
I wanted to be polite, so when he told us - including me - something I watched his face all the time. When he smiled I said something like "Oh, how nice" or anything positive, when he looked or sounded upset I just said "Oh, no" again any variation.
One evening a lady asked me how come I could understand him because she as a Brit could not. I told her my secret.
Thu 9 Feb, 2012 12:22 am
My uncle came to Canada once with two brothers he was business partners with on his sheep farm in Ireland. They were till this point in my life the only people I couldn't understand. The visit took place shortly after it was illegal to smoke on international flights... One of boys was jonesing for a cigarette, so he decided to go to the toilet and have a puff, somewhere over Queeebec, as my uncle called it. He, of course, set off all the alarms and was arrested upon arrival in Toronto. After all the questioning and processing was done, the police let him go with a gentle warning. The authorities decided he must be mentally challenged, or as they called him, retarded and couldn't be held responsible for his actions. Little did they know that no only wasn't he completely dumb, but he probably had more in the bank than the whole precinct.
Although none of us, including my mother, could understand a word, the brothers talked an unending blue streak. My uncle gave up translating after a while and we did the same as you Saab. Just smile and nod.. just smile and nod.
Yeah, I get made fun of all the time for the way I pronounce words although no one can quite figure out where it is I'm from in the US from my accent - I've had people tell me they thought I was Irish, Australian, Candian. Finally someone told me that they'd all been talking about it and decided that my American accent is 'posh New York'! I laughed and laughed - I'm the descendent of poor dirt farmers from Texas and Oklahoma!
But this was funny - there were some German exchange students in a pub in Wales I was eating at and their English was impeccable so we got to talking and they asked me, 'Where are you from?' And I asked, because I'm always interested to hear where people think I'm from, 'Where do you think I'm from?' And they said, 'We can't figure it out - we only know you're not from England or Wales because we can understand everything you say- you speak so clearly.' I wish I had had a tape recorder so I could have played that back for the people I work with who make fun of the way I talk every day.
I think it's the speed at which people speak over here. I have a lot of Welsh guys I work with and I always have to ask them to slow down so I can understand what they're saying- and they all think we americans drawl very, very slowly...it cracks me up to hear my nondescript mid-Atlantic semi-New Jersey accent described as a 'twang' and a 'drawl'.- and everyone greets me with 'Howdy pardner...' yeah right- I feel like checking my head to see if I'm wearing a cowboy hat or something!
Talk about stereotyping.
Beside dialects - did you as a child make a special language which others where not supposed to know? Only a best friend.
My father and uncle taught me following.
Momy fofatothoheror anondod unoncoclole.....
It was easier to understand when written than when spoken.
We spent a very nice Christmas at Southend on Sea.
We went to see the pantomime and it was wonderful. Now and then something was said in dialect and the children roared of laughter - also the grownups. I found it so funny that kids understood the jokes and I as a grownup did not even understand what was said.
Thu 9 Feb, 2012 08:45 am
I guess living in Boston prepares one for traveling and finding one's way around any where in the world.
I'd guess (except maybe Venice - I certainly got so lost there) - Boston is one of the more difficult areas to find your way around.
Thu 9 Feb, 2012 12:15 pm
I don't remember it now, but when I was a kid, my three younger brothers and I spoke a language that my parents couldn't understand.
The middle brother was sent to a speech therapist shortly after he started kindergarten. The teacher thought he might be developmentally impaired as well because he refused to speak anything but our language. After one session he was speaking
like the rest of society, and our secret language was soon forgotten.
I wish I could remember some of it.