English And English

Back on the 29th of October, 1984, British, ‘electric band’, Depeche Mode, released their twelfth, UK single and first double, A-side single. It was entitled, ‘Blasphemous Rumours’. Part of the text read: I don’t want to start any blasphemous rumours, but I think that God’s got a sick sense of humour. I cannot say that I agree that God has a sick sense of humor, although I have to admit, he does have a sense of humor. God, for me, is everywhere and with the extreme diversity on this, our Garden of Eden, how can God possibly not have a sense of humor. Before Genesis Chapter 11 in the Bible, everyone spoke the same language. Then, the people attempted to build a tower that reached into Heaven. They were trying to make themselves too powerful, so God confused their language and dispersed them throughout the earth (Gen. 11:1-9). If that’s not a sense of humor, then I don’t know what is.

Growing up in England, I never really thought that much about languages. I spoke English and knew I could get by on it. I did try to learn French, probably got as far as, parlez-vous anglais and avez-vous le temps? There were a few bad words too, but probably better not to go there. I moved to Sweden though in 1989 and suddenly, I had to learn a new language. At least Swedish is a Germanic based language, unlike French. I remember sitting with some Swedish friends and wondering if I had just been cast into the Muppet Show. Jim Henson wasn’t far wrong when he created ‘the Swedish chef’. It wasn’t that difficult though. I didn’t know I was a language person. Considering what I do now though, it’s probably just as well I found out. God confused our language and dispersed it throughout the earth. I speak two languages now and feel perfectly at home with both. Sometimes though, it isn’t language that’s the problem. Had I not taken the time to learn Swedish, I would have missed out on so much here in Sweden. And then I came to America.

I remember being guest speak in Litchfield, Minnesota. I spoke for almost two hours, had a wonderful time doing so as well. Afterwards, an elderly gentleman came up to me. He thanked me and told me he could easily have sat much longer, listening to what I had to say. However, he also freely admitted he understood only eighty percent of what I said. I was speaking English. Could this be a little more humor on God’s part? So it’s not just languages, but accents as well that God played with. You have to love his sense of humor. We say sweets and you say candy. We say crisps and you say chips. We say chemist and you say drugstore. Post box is pillar box, football is soccer. I won’t even mention what we call cigarettes.

It’s well known the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Wherever I was in America, I wasn’t far from food. American pancakes and maple syrup, corn dogs, s’mores, buffalo wings, blizzards and what’s more American than apple pie. And if you take a chicken, push it into a duck and then push the duck into a turkey, you get a turducken.  I just have to love that. Rosie told me to try a walleye sandwich. I had no idea what that was. She told me it was a freshwater fish, but why would anybody call a fish a walleye, unless they hated it. I had these crazy thoughts about fish-eye sandwiches or gross fish heads in jelly. I found out that walleye is gös in Swedish. From there, I discovered gös is pike-perch. So now we know that.

I think we can safely say we agree, God does not have a sick sense of humor, but he does have a sense of humor. Life is a wonderful, magical journey. We all have roads to follow, but God’s humor is with us at all times. It’s what we make it and how we want it to be. As for me, I will be back on American soil real soon, so I better get brushing up on American English or you might only understand eighty percent of what I have to say. An American, teaching an Englishman, English… that’s the humor of God once again.

Until next time  … Gavin Hill

3 Responses

  1. Gavin and Rosie

    I enjoy your articles,Gavin! Be ready for what I will be having you “try” for “new” American foods this time, when you arrive 😉

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