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Sep 19 2015

Wet Footed Mooses

So, I just got back from a nine-day trip through Europe. One of the things that struck me was the little mistakes that people in Europe make with the English language.

Please don’t get me wrong…as Americans we tend to be lingual morons. Nearly everyone that I have met in Europe speaks far better English than I do German, French or Italian. This is not saying much as I can barely choke out “please”, “thank you” and “excuse me do you speak English” in these languages.

As an example, we took a canal tour in Denmark and our guide would effortlessly tell us about the sites, first in English and then in Danish and Spanish. She was competent enough to make jokes in each language and seemed completely comfortable with the process.

Our tour guide Kirsten in Copenhagen pointing out the black diamond

Our tour guide Kirsten in Copenhagen talking about the black diamond

When she mentioned a bridge that was under construction she told us that when it was done you would be able to cross the canal at this point without getting “wet footed”. I had to smile to myself because what she said was so logical…but not something a native english speaker would ever say. I would cross the canal without getting my feet wet.

These exceptions to the rules are what make English so persnickety to learn.

For example:

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

These examples (borrowed from a great article on learning English) show why English is so bloody difficult!

The other thing I heard several times was people talking about moose. Well, we were in Scandinavia!

They would consistently talk about one moose, and several mooses, when everyone knows that they plural of moose is meese! 😉

So, I would suggest that you keep all of this in mind if you interact with someone from out of the country here in the US or as you are traveling abroad. Learn a couple of phrases in their language, they will laugh at your pronunciation, but they always appreciate the effort. Thank them for speaking English so well and teach them an idiom to try out on their friends. I would suggest “devil’s advocate” or “Elvis has left the building” as two of my favorites!

I will leave you with a picture of Nyhavn in Copenhagen, primarily because it is ridiculously charming, but also for the label on the public restroom!

As they say in Denmark for goodbye, hej hej! (pronounced hay, hay)

Or equally relevant Mit luftpudefartøj er fyldt med ål!

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1 comment

  1. Vesnelle

    Loved your information and musings. Totally agree on the English and other languages. My only trip to Europe was wonderful and even tho I had a personal guide to do the talking part most of the time, I found everyone delightfully ready to be helpful when I tried to use the few German words I had learned.

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