Problems With English

SSignpeak three languages and you’re trilingual. Speak two and you’re bilingual. Speak one and you’re American. The latter is not always true, but pretty close.

I smile when I hear parents, moms in particular, mention their toddler’s little mind. I think They’re learning to speak English, the hardest language in the world!

If to, too, two, for, fore, four, their, there, (they’re,) hear, here, right, rite, sight, site and cite aren’t confusing enough, there’s further and farther and clinch and clench.

I know an Afghani who reads, writes and speaks five languages. He grew up in a mud hut on the Paki border. I don’t even know what you call someone who speaks five languages. Pentalingual? Is that a word? No. Maybe brilliant is a better description. I always wondered what language he dreamed in.


Fly to Europe, anywhere, pick a major city in any country. Then, go for a walk with your ears open. You’ll hear German, French, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Arabic and English, just to name a few. Two out of three people speak two or more languages, including English.

I took Spanish in the seventh grade. After nine months, I couldn’t ask for a taco. It took me 14 years working in Saudi Arabia to acquire a good Arabic vocabulary. Come to think of it, I can’t ask for a taco in that language either.

Filipinos, Indians and Bengalis pronounce F and V as P. My name was Dabid for years, and I answered to it. I used to ask for beep steak, medium well.

So a Pill-a-pee-no (Filipino) speaks Pill-a-pee-no (Pilipino) and lives in the Pill-a-peens (Philippines,) and I’ve seen as many as pipty-pipe Pill-a-pee-nos at one time.

I know some roughneck types who crew changed in the Med, via Italy. Their driver missed the turn to the dock, and Billy Todd yelled, “Hey, Fred Bob, you speak Italian, tell him to stop!”

Fred marched halfway down the aisle and addressed the driver. “Stop-a da bus! Stop-a da bus!”

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