Foreign English

Today we put out the first issue of the Beacon that I actually got to work on. (Yay!)

Most everything about being back in a newsroom feels comfortingly familiar: the puns, the pace, the profanity, the poor taste in jokes.

Especially for my nerds, however, there’s one thing that I wasn’t expecting to be quite this different: Language.

You see, I write in the Queen’s English now, or as our production manager told me after reading my first piece: “Just forget all about the letter Z.”

I’m going to continue to call it “zee” rather than “zed.”

I’ve switched to UK English on my spellchecker, so the main time I notice I’m writing in a foreign language is when I do a double-take reading pages on a word like paedophile. I’m sorry, it just looks like a made-up word.

It also comes up in court stories. Fortunately, I know I can ask someone else here in the office when I don’t know what someone is being charged with. Unfortunately, I never know until after they tell me if I really want to know what it is. Or how much teasing I may incur after asking.

Speaking is a whole different story. English is the official language of the British Virgin Islands, but many times when I listen to BVIslanders in conversation, I’m lucky if I can pick out a few words. Of course this goes both ways. Locals seem to have a hard time understanding me, especially if I’m speaking quickly. Thankfully, folks are pretty patient and don’t mind repeating themselves. Either that or they do a good job hiding their annoyance.

One last language note: I played a bit of translator this issue, helping some drunken sailors from the heartland (aka, ‘merica), understand an expat Brit volunteer at Gaming Night, where I was working. Not gambling. I swear.


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