English has the last laugh..!
Suddenly out of the corner of her eye mother mouse saw a cat slinking towards them. The cat was between the mice and their hole. The mother mice puffed up her lungs and went, “woof, woof!.” The cat turned tail and ran.
With that the mother quickly led her children back to safety in their hole. When they were settled and breathing normally, Mother Mouse said to her children “Now what’s the lesson from this experience?” “We don’t know,” the baby mice squeaked. “Its this,” said the Mom Mouse, “Its good to know a second language…!”
And like that mother mouse in the story, to many of us we have used it to advantage as a second language, but it has always tripped us in the most unexpected ways: A South American diplomat who was stationed in the United States had developed an impressively rich English vocabulary. One day he was discussing things with a friend in the US State Department, and it was obvious that he was unhappy.
“You look sad.” said the state department man. “Are things not going well?” “Well,” said the diplomat, “no. I’m having trouble with my wife.” “Oh,” said his friend, “that is bad. And I thought you loved your wife so much.” “Oh yes,” said the diplomat,” I love her very, very much.” “Then what is the trouble?” “Well,” said the diplomat, “we very much want to have some children, and er, my wife seems to be-how do you say?- unbearable.” “Unbearble?” asked his friend.
“No, no,” said the diplomat, “I mean inconceivable.” Still a blank expression on his friends face. “What I mean, you see,” said the diplomat, “is that she is-uh-oh, yes impregnable…!” Well that’s how tough English could be for some of us. I have heard people say… “Thank you for this kind wastage of your time.”
“Sir, I thank you from the heart of my bottom.” “From here it will be five miles as the cock crows.” Football player to referee: “You bloody damn, I’ll blow your nose.” “I am a simple man. I speak what is in my mind. I have nothing in my behind.” This from a man who escaped drowning: “As I went under for a second time, my whole posterior passed before me in a flash.”
And so on and so forth, English as a second language gently trips and makes to stumble those who try to master her. To end this piece here’s one from a native Englishman, a Yale graduate and major in English:… “I’ve got a gut feeling off the top of my head…!” Howzaat?