Phrases I must delearn

I’m finding myself always slipping into speaking ‘Dubai’ speak, or put better, simplified English that’s more readily understood by non-native speakers, particularly in the service industry.

Some friends pulled me up on this during a recent visit to London. When ordering food at a Thai restaurant, I spoke c l e a r l y and s l o w l y to the Thai waitress, as I would do in Dubai. I wasn’t speaking like that to be condescending or superior, I was just making sure what I said was easy to understand. Of course, in this situation, the waitress had probably been living in Earlsfield for years, if not her whole life, which meant her English was flawless. This made me look like a bit of a twit.

When I’m home in the summer, I will have to stop saying things like –

– Since long time I am here.

– What time you will bring it?

– When this thing it will be ready?

– Signal straight, signal straight, then circle left. (Go through the next two sets of lights, then turn left at the roundabout.)

– What you are doing?

– Too much traffic, this!

– Two big bottle water, one copy The Times newspaper, 6 can soda water.

– When you will come? English five minutes or Dubai five minutes?

– You come now visitors’ parking.

– What my special discount? You give me best price, my friend.

– Lo, my postillion has been struck by lightning. (Ok, this last one was made up).

In a similar vein, I have discovered a customer service person at my property company who writes excellent English. This allows me to write devastatingly witty emails back, pointing out the various flaws I am complaining about in a hilariously subtle and amusing manner. Ultimately pointless, but it makes me feel a lot better.

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