Metaphors R Us: hardware and software


In Dallas, on the weekend, I talked to a woman who spoke good but accented English.  She told me that spoke an aboriginal language most of her childhood. She didn’t learn English till she was about 10 years old.  She learned it from the women who came to live with the family and the 13 kids after her mother fell sick.

She didn’t have a chance to use her English outside the community until some years later.  She and her brother went in to Tucson to buy the hose and the bucket they needed to build an outdoor shower.

She went to the hardware store and placed her order.  The person behind the counter looked at her and raised his hands in the air, the sign of incomprehension.  So she tried again: "can you sell me a bucket and a hose?" She got the same reaction. 

Now she said, “What is the matter with this guy? Doesn’t he speak English?”

The man beside her looked at her with surprise and said, “Lady, you’re speaking Spanish.”

1 thought on “Metaphors R Us: hardware and software

  1. Alan

    Lovely story, reminding me of one I was told by a guy cutting my hair here in Toronto recently. He had emigrated in the ’60s from Siciliy speaking only Sicilian Italian; he settled initially among other Sicilians, some of them family. He then went hunting for a job and got one in a barbershop in the College-Spadina area. Everybody was pleased, as they knew this would mean that in addition to developing a skill, he would be learning English.
    Some months later, in a situation not unlike that in your story, he discovered he had been working among Ukrainian immigrants and had developed a good grounding in Ukrainian, and had learned no English.

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