English As A Second Language

When I got married, I moved to a rural area of Ohio, with my husband and close to his family. I took me a while to learn what some of the things they said meant. A couple of good examples are these: My husband worked for a demolition company and he and his friends kept talking about something called a “Bacco”. I thought they were using some slang for Tobacco. I couldn’t figure out what tobacco had to do with construction and demolition. I finally figured out they were talking about a type of heavy equipment called a Back Hoe. I could have asked, but I frequently make use of the adage. “Keep your mouth shut and look dumb, or open your mouth and remove all doubt..”


Then when someone was sick, my mother-in-law and father-in-law would say they were “hippoed”. I eventually learned they were using slang to say people were hypochondriacs. They were just pronouncing hypo as hippo. There were many other things that either I didn’t understand or they didn’t.

Communication was frequently difficult for me. I would say things in proper English grammar and they would say, “What?’  I would have to think of a way to say things that they could understand.  Eventually, my speech became increasingly slang prone. 

When I think or write, I do it in the proper grammar. It is like thinking in English and then having to translate it into Spanish, or thinking in Spanish and trying to translate it into English. I am not being arrogant. It is just that I was taught grammar by very good teachers and it stuck. I wonder just how many other areas in the U.S. who are being hindered by English teachers who don’t do their jobs? I also wonder if people who know me personally and hear my day to day speech will read my journals and think it doesn’t sound like me? Maybe I should make an entry in my journals to explain the difference in “voice”. 

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