Thursday, February 02, 2006

Going Native

It was okay when it was just remembering to look to the right (instead of the left) when stepping off the curb. That can be excused as the purist of self preservation. Riding my bike on the left lane of the roadway is another of the little concessions that I have made to living over here in the United Kingdom. But there are other quirks in my thoughts and in my speech that are beginning to make me wonder.

I have found of late that words and concepts I have never had in my head before had started manifesting themselves. Words that never before were anything but comical colloquialisms from stories like Mary Poppins have found their way into my everyday vocabulary. Oh, God! I'm going native!

These two blokes were acting somewhat yobishly at the pub the other night. "Bloke" is one of those words that I would have never thought I would find myself using in every day conversation and until recently, had you said that sentence to me, I would have had to suss it out that you meant these two guys were being rowdy at the bar. But, I guess that is what happens when the publican comes around with the tally for the ales.

It's more than the language, however, I can deal with having a back garden (instead of a backyard) and going to the Night Market to get something I need after the local newsagent closes for the evening. It is a way of behaving.

I think I accidentally offended the local greengrocer when I first started coming over here. I walked in, selected a couple grapefruit from the display and started looking to see if he had any nice looking apples. "I'll do that for you, sir." Came a voice from behind me.

"I can manage." I replied and reached for an apple. The greengrocer did an end-run around me and with a practiced flick of the wrist opened a bag to hold the apple that he had selected for me. "I'll do that for you." He repeated a bit more forcefully. In talking to friends over here, it was explained to me that you do not help yourself at the greengrocers, they are protecting their fruit and want to keep the yobs from squeezing the fruit and ruining it. I guess this makes sense, but I have always (and probably will always) selected my own produce and do not wish to relinquish this process.

It is even simpler and more invasive than that. The other day I actually arranged to meet someone at "half seven." I was not sure as recently as two weeks ago, I still had to ask to make sure that I understood what that actually meant. So we met at seven thirty and had our proper British pint and then headed off our separate ways. This is like a total immersion course in English.

I hope that you have a great day wherever it happens to be today!

Don Bergquist - 02-February-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

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