Language is a Wonderful Thing…. Sometimes

The English language provides multiple ways to say the same thing which is absolutely fabulous or even quite wonderful. However it’s also really easy to fall down a great big pothole without even trying. My current favourite is a sign seen over a car repair workshop; “Specialist in Every Make”.

It’s a strange thing that those of us who speak English as a first language can pick up the small nuances that betray the author in even a simple item like a menu. Here in Manama I’ve noticed that plurals either are or are not used in unexpectedly ways. Something like “Fish and Chips Shop” with “fish and chip” itemised on the menu. Or as seen today “Pets Shop”.

Such “errors” don’t make me feel superior in my knowledge of my native tongue, rather it makes me want to know more about the language of the writer. What structures in their own tongue make them speak/write English like that? Similarly when learning new words in another language (and before you ask I’m no polyglot, I have a smattering of French lessons in addition to my mother tongue), its fun to explore the alternatives and compare them with various English equivalents. Doing this adds a whole new dimension; not just seeing how certain words are similarly rooted in another language but also learning that just as in English there are lots of ways of saying the same thing with slightly different nuances in other languages too.

And signs continue to fascinate today’s gem adorned virtually every car workshop in a street in Isa Town; “Electrical, Mechanical, Denting and Painting”!