Sunday, June 26, 2011

English is not English


Ok, I know, I know, some of you are thinking...but she was BORN American, she knows American English!

I was, and I admit, I spoke like an American before...but after living in SA for 13 years and dealing with the public in the job that I did, I had to train myself to speak like a South African so that I could be understood especially on the phone.  I couldn't go into a restaurant and ask for 'wadder' because I would get 'eish, hey?'  So I taught myself to say 'wahTer'.  Also admittedly since being back my American accent has come back with a vengeance but  I do still say 'half past 5' not '5 thrity' and I end a question with 'hey?'

A small aside:  Now the entire time I lived in SA I was 'the American girl' and everyone always commented on my accent.  When I spoke to anyone in the US they always commented that I had an which is it?  I either have an American accent or South African accent...hmm.  I was told once that I was Northern Irish by a woman that was Northern Irish - she insisted that I had lived down the road from here there years before and that I didn't need to either American+South African = Northern Irish or she was a bit touched.

Moving on

So now that we are here and I catch myself asking for 'wadder' in order to get exactly that...water...I do find it interesting and slightly annoying that Americans as a whole do not speak English.  No seriously, you don't!
There is so much slang here that it has become accepted as normal conversational English, but to someone that has had proper English spoken around them for quite sometime, it is a bit hard on the ears.  And it seems to me that people tend to resist understanding something put in a different way.

For example, I was making an appointment and I said 'half past five' the person on the other end said 'five?'  I said no 'half past five'.  'ok' they said 'five o'clock it is'.  Now really, you can't tell me that even though Americans do not use this terminology you can't figure out that half an hour after an hour is half past?  Or is it a bit of a stubbornness to make the rest of the world succumb to American English?

T's have become D's...spadder, badder, boddle, wader, madder, etc..
Vowels have been made longer...sahrry, cahr, dawg, dooer,
Seperate words have been merged...oerdare (over there), waddchasey (what did you say), gimmedat (give me that)
And if all of those are not hard enough when they all get combined into one statement.....waddchaseyyernahmewahs (what did you say your name was) it is a wonder that I look at my husband and say 'What did they just say?'.

And THAT is something that is odd.  How is it that my Afrikaans husband can understand the American speak better than I can?  I mean really?  I should be the one 'translating' instead I often stand in stunned silence while he whispers in my ear the English translation.

It takes me back to my first few years in SA, I would stand in stunned silence while trying to figure out 'eish mama, eh, in tehrms of dha soogar, we ahre ouut.'  I finally got that down.

So here I sit, trying to learn English AGAIN! 
Hearing 'High yawn done. Two spray?' instead of 'Howya'lldoin'taday?'

Thursday, June 16, 2011

You can take the Saffer out of the crime, but you can't take the Paranoia out of the Saffer...

SO! Clearly there are somethings that take a while to work their way out of your system when you move countries.
Last night is a good example.
One of the many things you find yourself without in a new place are friends.  Obviously we don't know people here (other than my family) and so we have to make new friends.  J has been much better at getting out there than I have, I have reconnected with a few friends from high school, but no one really lives nearby and well really, I guess I figure I'll start hanging out with moms when our kids get older.  Ok, perhaps Facebook helps too, I have kept in touch with friends in SA and all over, so if I need to vent or share I have them.  Ok I am getting off topic!

SO! J met this guy about a month ago when he was out with one of my cousins.  They got to chatting outside while polluting their lungs. (Guess smoking is good for something.) J told him how we had just moved here and he was looking for a job and blah blah blah. (I wasn't there and frankly, men don't really tell details about stuff like that so blah blah blah isn't meant to make it sound like I do not care about what was said it is just that I have no idea and getting the details will be just short of an interrogation so it's just easier.)  This guy gave J his number and said for J to give him a ring the next day, he was quite connected and he would see what he could help with blah blah blah (see above).  J did so the next day, got voice mail, left one saying blah blah blah, and never got a call back.
Well yesterday out of the blue this guy sends J a text/sms.  It said he had been out of the country on business and was sorry, that they must get together soon. (no blah blah blah, I read the text) The conversation ended with them actually meeting up for a beer last night.  Pretty cool!
Off J went after dinner to a new bar (pretty cool thing, all the bars, pubs, restaurants are all new when you immigrate) to blah blah blah.

Now here is where the paranoia sets in.  I went to bed and was reading when I was overwhelmed by this weird feeling, I started to think about how strange it was this guy would contact J out of the blue and then they met THAT night.  That he seemed like a nice guy, but what was his deal?  I mean, if he was SO well connected, why would he need to meet a new person?  Why did he want to 'help' J?  What did I really know about this place they went to?  What if he was a member of some gang and he was luring J into a trap where he was going to kidnap him (I know, if you know J, that is a hilarious notion, but go with me...) where his gang would over power him in the parking lot, take him for some sick torture session.  My mind was racing through all these 'true crime' TV shows, CSI, Without a Trace...
I grabbed my phone and started to text J, just saying that I had a weird feeling and could he let me know he was safe.  Then I realized that this 'friendly guy' could easily have J on a metal table somewhere in a warehouse near the docks (ok so no docks here in Dallas but that guy in Law Abiding Citizen had a warehouse near the docks) and he could just text me himself saying J was fine.  So I texted that J should reply to me in his 'native language', this way I thought, he could send me a secret message that he was really 'op die tafel' and 'stuur die polisie'.
I sent it.
I waited.
I reread the text to make sure it was clear to J he could get me a message.
I waited. - He must be trying to think of the best way to get me the message without tipping off the gang....
The phone rang.
It was J.
'Hey babe, on my way home.  I'll tell you all about it when  I get there'
Hmmm. I thought.  Maybe they tried to jump him, but my husband being the awesome guy that he is must have head butted them and then round housed them, to give him enough time to get into our (amazing) car and drive around losing any tailers to get home.
I waited.
I started to think I was really losing now. I mean really!  A gang out to get my hubby!  ha ha ha...I started to calm down.
By the time J got there I was ready to drift off to sleep...until he told me about his meeting.

SO! They met and chatted, blah blah blah.  Then this guy gave J a most unusual 'trinket' and told him he could have it as a memento.  J was shaking it to hear what was inside and he couldn't hear what you should inside this, memento.  He said he thought it was a bit strange this thing, but he did mention that they had a conversation the first time about how J like weapons etc.  This guy told J about how he was in the military etc.
But still...a memento?
J expressed his thoughts on how he felt it was a strange thing.
Then, I said it, I just let it go..I couldn't help it.

"Maybe it's a GPS tracker?" I said
"You know babe, I thought the same thing" he said.
We were silent.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I have been remiss..

I must apologize for not blogging these past few months.  I was so caught up in the whirlwind of the new world and all that had to be sorted that I didn't, and that is exactly when I should have been!
I will start again and make it a priority and hopefully we'll get this thing going!
So - let me try to go over a few things that you have missed.....

First stuff relating to the kids, of course my most important thing.
Preschools- well, we have moved the kids from their original school to a new one.  Not that there was really anything 'wrong' with the first one, but it ended up being quite far from home and S seemed to be getting bored in class as he knew all his colors and shapes and that is what they were covering.  His behavior took a turn for the worse and I think it stemmed from him being bored.  I researched actually sending him to Pre-k this next year, but because his birthday is in October he would have had to repeat either pre-k, kindergarten, or 1st grade, and I felt the possibility of him feeling a bit left out or held back was too great and confidence destroying.  Besides, I found a great school less than a mile away, with a fantastic curriculum and for less money too.  All around a pretty good thing!  They have been there for a little over a month now and are very happy, and I am very happy with what they are learning and the behavior.
We have enrolled S into a dance program, yes I am sure the men out there are saying "what? a boy in dance?" Bu,t he asked to go, and I have read that it actually assists them in their sports endeavors and can improve their balance, agility, and body awareness.  He has gone to two classes so far and absolutely adores it.  I get reminded on Wednesdays to pack is dance clothes as the school is right near the dance studio and they get walked there and back.  This Thursday he will begin his sports classes that will cover the general rules and how to play, hold equipment, and sportsmanship of a few sports.
O is still too small to do these things but they are willing to allow her to enroll in dance in the fall (the beginning of the school year here)  even though she will only be 2 in October.

We were speaking the other day about how it is a bit sad that the kids left SA so early in their lives, that they probably won't remember much from living there, especially O.  Though S seems to remember quite a bit and often asks me about something we had in 'Souf Af-ri-ca'.  He doesn't comprehend the distance between there and here but he knows it is where he use to live and that his Ouma and Oupa live there and he misses them.  He also misses our neighbors and their girls, he had such a close relationship with them.  He speaks of them often and we are trying to keep those memories alive so they are long lasting.

I still miss their school, I honestly believe it is the best school in the world.  I don't know of any other school that cares so much about the development of their kids.

Medical care here for kids...shoo...have we had a lesson in that these past weeks.
O has had a few ear infections, bronchitis and S has had the same.  We have learned that they do not have Bisolvan Lintus here (a medicine that is an expectorant and bronchial dilator in one).  You have to have a prescription to buy a nose spray other than saline here, and you can't get StoPyn (stilpain, panado with codeine, Tylenol with codeine) without a prescription either.  The doctors here for the most part, though supposedly more educated in the 'latest' things, seem to be too bothered with making money than to care for their patients, and/or have their hands tied from the government watch dogs to be able to use a wide range of medicines.
That said, we have been so very lucky to find a fantastic ENT who makes an effort to get you in the same day and (believe it or not) a South African immigrated GP doctor, literally about a mile from our house.  We found them via word of mouth after visiting a 'walk-in clinic' that was purely a money making racket, and not too friendly either.  It was a lesson and an expensive one at that!  Not again!
We do not have medical aid/health insurance, so we have been throwing money at the doctors and medicines, but here the medical aid comes with most jobs so I keep thinking J is going to get a job and we can just use that instead of getting on a private one to have to cancel when he does get hired.  I am getting scared though and really thinking of just doing that to avoid any problems.
I must interject here that we have also been lucky to find a pharmacy/chemist 4 stores down from the dr, that is run by two Russian immigrant sisters.  They too seem to understand the value of knowing their customers faces and names and families and have really gone out of their way to help us save money on medicines.

Here every weekend there is some kids centered 'thing' happening.  That is one thing that seems to be better here than it was in SA.  We have gone to a 'free day' sponsored by a chain store called Target (sort of a Dischem meets Pick-n-Pay meets Game, though of a much better quality)  at a sculpture museum where the kids were able to do art project, walk around a sculpture garden, and spend time around other kids.  It was nice.  They do it once a month.  There are also events at the arboretum, zoo, natural science museum, etc.
We have also gone to an art festival in the neighborhood where they had a special children area and the two did pottery, and sand molds, and made paper hats.
It just seems that here they are very good and having events for parents to take their kids to in order to enrich their experiences.
One thing that does seem to lack compared to SA is the kid friendly restaurants.  They have nothing like the few places in Joburg (Tres Jolie, Bambanini, Serendipity etc) where there are actually kid playgrounds of varying degrees, petting areas, and jumping castles.  Here, kid friendly means they have a kids menu.
I find it fascinating that one country would excel in one and the other in the other facet.
It's just a difference..

So that is pretty much it on the kids front..I have a few other topics to cover before catching you all up, but I don't want you to get bored with this too soon so I will stop for now.
Please feel free to comment or ask any questions you want about what we are dealing with, going through, or the differences or similarities of each place.  I am happy to follow your lead.