I’ve never learnt another language before, so thought our 6-month stint in Seattle would be the perfect time for me to do so. After learning just recently that one side of my family originated in France I thought I would learn French. Perhaps I would learn the language easily– you know, I might possess a sort of way back instinctive knowledge of it and the words would come naturally oui oui?
However, it has become apparent that before I jump the gun and learn French I really need to learn American! I’ve had a few communication issues whilst carrying out my shopping research (sometimes called window shopping), and have had to explain what I have meant or repeat a word several times ………. pronouncing it differently each time! I have to say that even with this issue I am enjoying doing the research as everyone is SO pleasant! There has hardly been a shop that hasn’t, when I’ve walked through the door, had someone yell out “welcome in” or “welcome to …….”, or approach me and asked if I’m finding everything I need. It’s never overbearing, nor is it said in a way that is not meant. It is always genuine, polite and to be fair …… amazes me! It puts a smile on my face and makes me feel great! Even road users are polite – insisting on stopping while you cross a road/driveway etc. The police doing traffic duty stop the traffic at road works almost immediately for pedestrians. Once we had one apologize to us – he didn’t see us waiting he said, then quickly stopped the intersection traffic and waved us across. If you have plans of catching your breath at a carpark exit while the cars come out you’re out of luck!
It was while I was out doing a bit of research at JARBO that the friendly sales assistant started talking. She asked where I was from and as we chatted I said we had “shifted” to Main St Flats. That’s when I got a blank stare and then the “you what?…………oh you MOVED! Oh, that is so sweet………. ‘shifted’!” I will be going back to JARBO – as much for the chat as the clothes.
Ordering coffee here is something that we are still getting used to and often get wrong. Hunter gatherer wanted an “Americano with a little cold milk on the side” once and after a few minutes’ discussion with a barista explaining what it was like, thought he had nailed it, but what he got was much like a latte – alas stone cold! Then there was the conversation with another Barista that could have got him arrested if the she didn’t have such a good sense of humor – “do you want room” she said “no I’d like it on the side” he said. She was talking about milk – so was he by the way, he just wasn’t sure what she meant by wanting a room! So now we ask for coffee with room, and not on the side.
There’s also the term ‘reach out’ which means ‘getting in touch’. I’ve had a few letters and emails thanking me for reaching out. At work hunter gatherer says he has learnt terms like ‘light up’ which means ‘create a really good looking ……… document/scenario etc.’ ‘Sync with you’ would mean ‘get on the same page’ – not to be confused with someone asking if they could sing with you!