There is a wonderful little book “English As She is Spoke” which always used to sit on my bookshelf to be taken down and read whenever I needed cheering up. It is a crazy Portuguese-English phrase book the content of which always makes me chuckle, my copy currently resides back in the UK on Temptress but help is at hand here as almost everyday something language-wise tickles me pink.

Recently I’ve noticed both Kevin & I seem to be adopting small phrases that are peculiarly Dubai-speak like “at the back-side of” or should it be “backside” or even “back side” – like a lot of things here the spelling is phonetic. It basically is a direction to go round to the far side of something. For example at the back-side of the hotel would be around to the rear of the building. Whereas at the back-side of the supermarket could be describing the location of the item you are looking for, ie it can be found at the back of the shop.

We are also used to seeing “Jebel Ali” followed by ‘Jabal Ali’ on successive blue motorway signposts close to home.  And too the pondorous language used on notices about fire alarm testing or window cleaning at our apartment block. Language and spelling which convey the sense perfectly but isn’t necessarily how a native English speaker would say it and annoyingly, you often can’t quite decide how you’d phrase it instead.

Todays little gem came from a phone call made by the Aramex man who arrived at our apartment with a delivery for “Mr Kevin” who this being Sunday morning was at his office. Having established the recipient was not present the courier asked to see Mr Kevin’s passport before he would hand over the package containing a replacement debit card. I explained that said passport is currently in Dusseldorf being renewed so it was not “at home” to use his phrase.

The courier unphased promptly phoned Mr Kevin and asked for his ID number. I heard my other half’s voice commence reading out a number only to find himself interupted by the courier; “no, the number with photoside down”. Brilliant! I will endeavour to use that instead of “on the reverse” as soon as I can find an opportunity!