Thursday, July 27, 2006

The English Language

Ever wonder what Englishmen think about the English language in the States? Read Aqualung's, rather Ben's tour diary. Title: RE: The English Language

Ok, here are the first few paragraphs:

Thank you for your recent letter. I would indeed enjoy sharing with you some of my observations on the theme of transatlantic English, which are delivered in the house style, and, just to warn you, contain offensive words like 'cunt':

"You say 'tomato', and I say 'tomato'/
I say 'potato', and you say 'potato'..."

Doesn't sound so good when it's written down, does it? It's just confusing. But, besides the fact that no one on earth says 'potARto', whoever wrote that song had a point. I do say 'tomARto' and they say 'tomAYto', and when I am in a restaurant discussing tomatoes with the waiter, I soon find myself in linguistoetiquetical difficulty. I feel I ought to back down and say 'tomAYto' because otherwise the difference in pronunciation can become confrontational:

Waiter: Who ordered the tomAYtoes?
Ben: I ordered the tomARtoes
Waiter (leaning forward): I'm sorry sir?
Ben (gesturing): Them. I ordered them.
Waiter: Oh, the toMAYtoes. And how do the tomAYtoes look to you today at this time?
Ben: The tomARtoes look fine
Waiter (leaning further): I'm sorry sir?
Ben: These... they look fine. Thankyou.
Waiter: Thank YOU.
Ben: That's fine.
Waiter: I'm sorry sir?
Ben: mmp
Waiter: Are you guys in a band, or are you here for the Hair Show?

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