Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Two Countries Separated by a Common Language?

NRO columnist Jay Nordlinger, who regularly writes regarding language usage, shares a letter from a reader:

In the British Isles, what we call an eraser, they call a rubber. Well . . .

In 1988 I was working as an undergrad lab assistant at Penn State. The lab had a scientist visiting from Ireland for the semester. One afternoon as I was in the administrative office picking up my paycheck, the Irish researcher ducked into the office and asked, in the quaintest brogue, “Pardon me, but does anyone have a rubber?”

I guessed at his meaning and had a short chuckle, but the Pennsylvania Dutch matrons who ran the office were aghast! Open-mouthed, wide-eyed, speechless. Seeing their stunned faces, and having no clue what he had done wrong, the Irishman quickly said (I swear), “I’ll bring it right back as soon as I’m done with it.”

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