Living in a country where English is widely spoken but is not most people’s mother tongue, you hear and see some comical uses of the language. Most of the time, I am just amused by the abuse. But the other day at the Modern Museum, the writer/editor in me I was equal parts entertained and annoyed by the English on the placards next to the art. The misspellings, bad grammar and interesting usage were prevalent throughout the exhibitions.
Working on the airline magazine, I had writers tell me they had a “touristical” article for me. Coworkers would say: “Shall we make a meeting now?” or tell me that something was of the “outmost importance.” And I had an e-mail from a reader who said: “What unearth is this…?”
My friend Maria tells me she saw a sign on a cruise boat for a sunburn bed. That one is painful on many levels.
Ultimately, I am mostly amused by these uses of my language – especially in light of how well I can butcher the Swedish language. I need to be forgiving. Plus I am absolutely fond of the Swedish pronounciation of village as willage, for instance.
But one of my favorite abuses is when a Swede tries to cooly use an American expression without knowing exactly what it means. It’s sort of a misappropriation of terms. The best example of this happened to a friend, who upon starting his new job was introduced at a company meeting by his Swedish boss as a “wet dream” of an employee. Ouch. Not exactly how you want to be known as at the office, I would venture to say. And also not what the bosss was meaning to communicate.