Thursday, May 27, 2010

Writer's Workshop: Excuse Me?

When Jeff and I were living in England, we quickly learned that although we spoke English, we did not speak the Queen's English.

I was constantly reminded of this when I would refer talk about my pants and my classmates would all titter. Turns out "pants" are "underpants" in England. "Trousers" is the proper term for what we Americans call "pants."

Of course, most Brits knew these Americanisms and were very tolerant of us, besides snickering over my "pants" from time to time. And we tried to adapt, learning to visit the chemist for prescriptions and referring to the trunk of the car as the "boot." So for the most part we all understood each other.

Then one day Jeff came home from his job at the chemistry lab. He told me that he was working that day when a colleague hurried into the room and said, "Professor So-and-So is running down the hall carrying a Winchester."

What?! I panicked just hearing him tell me this story.

Jeff was looking for a safe place to hit the deck when it occurred to him that no one else seemed the least bit disturbed by this announcement.

He slowly stood from his semi-crouch and said, "What exactly is a Winchester? Because where I come from it's a rifle."

His colleagues laughed and told him it was a large flask -- a simple piece of glassware common in chemistry labs. It was still a little concerning that someone was running down the hallway with a large flask -- an experiment gone awry, perhaps? But not the alarming announcement Jeff thought it was.

We had a good chuckle over the miscommunication then, and we laughed about it again the other night, some 15 years later. Thanks, Mama Kat for reminding us about a good memory with prompt #1: Describe a time when you had difficulty communicating with someone who speaks a different language than you.

It seems that sometimes a Winchester isn't a Winchester after all.

Mama's Losin' It
© Trippin' Mama 2010


Michelle said...

Oh my, that's just too funny! My husband and I have made lots of friends from many different places around the world, and we've had some pretty funny "lost in translation" moments. Yours, however, is hilarious! Thanks for sharing. Peace. :)

dusty earth mother said...

That's a good one. Love that your husband had to get up from a semi-crouch to ask what the heck a Winchester was. Funny!

Pua said...

Hahaha That's too cute. I'm sure my husband would have done exactly the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Great story. I love reading all these lost in translation stories. Thanks for sharing.