ESL (or English as a second language) has been a problem for me in San Diego. My Australian strine does not connect well with many US accents. So many times, I am asked ‘pardon’. It was fortunate that when ordering my sandwich at Subway, I had Kathleen Morris with me as she was able to keep interpreting each of my requests into US speech and again interpret that US accent for me!
However, this morning really showed the extent of the problem. I popped into this delightful Italian cafe where the most delectable assortment of cakes, breads and biscuits were displayed in shiny clean glass cabinets. The shop assistant was so friendly and accommodating and in my best Australian voice I asked for a roll with ham, fetta cheese and tomatoes using the Italian name. She immediately got me some baklava. So, I apologetically, said that I wanted the bread roll, to which she asked “do you want to take out” or eat here. (I thought). I said to take away as I wanted it for my lunch. Food is not in high supply at the Convention Centre and long queues form to place orders.
She proceed out the back and soon returned without my roll. Assuming it was being wrapped for me, I soon realised that perhaps they were toasting it. Even more apologetically, I said that I did not want it toasted, but wanted a fresh roll. She very obligingly cancelled the toasting and gave me the correct food. Minutes later, I was on my way to catch the shuttle bus to the conference!
There have been so many misunderstandings etc but good humour always prevails and both sides of the English language are good at that!