Did you know that when you learn new languages, it becomes more difficult to remember how to say things in your native language? It’s true.

For example: It is pretty common to, when learning a third language, substitute a word you can’t think of or don’t know for one from your second language.

Or… in my case, you just can’t speak coherently for the most part, in any language. I am a pretty good writer, and when it comes to being on the phone, I manage to function well. But what I’ve found is that the older I get, the more difficulty I have expressing myself accurately in English. This language barrier can become a problem, because everybody else in my household only speaks English.

I say all kinds of crazy things. Usually, my antics involve coming up with the word in other languages, talking like Ricky Ricardo, and then finishing with an incoherent string of English words that begin with the right letter but are not the right word, followed by my own version of sign language that probably makes no sense to anybody but me.

Take yesterday, for example. I was working diligently to tell The Wee Little Miss something about the toilet. (I have no idea what it was that was.) I couldn’t come up with “toilet” — I said a few words that started with the letter T, but was unable to manage the correct term.

The Wee Little Miss looked at me strangely. She eventually figured out what it was I was trying to say, and told me. Later on that night, I was trying to tell The Hubbster about the incident; clearly, when a linguist forgets how to use language, the linguist’s spouse should be notified just in case of … well, anything. Alzheimer’s, dementia, general dribbling out the ear of one’s brain, and so on. Well… I couldn’t remember what words I had used to say toilet. Like, at all.

I went and inquired of The Wee Little Miss what words I had substituted for the desired one. The following conversation is something I will never forget.

Me: “Hey, kiddo. What word did I use when I was trying to say ‘toilet’ earlier?”

WLM: “Tub.”

Me, knowing for sure that I had used more than one word besides “tub”: “T. Tuh. Toe?”

WLM, looking at me like I’ve finally, completely lost it, but also completely seriously: “No…….. tuuuuuuubbbbbb. TUBBBBB. TUUUUUUUBBBBB.”

My poor kid thought I had finally gone far enough off the deep end that I couldn’t figure out how to pronounce the word “tub”. It was like that scene in Monty Python’s Holy Grail when Bedivere, when trying to bully the old woman about finding a shrubbery, keeps saying “Nu” instead of “Ni”, and King Arthur instructs him on the proper pronunciation.

Poor thing. Nope, I’m not that out of it. Yet.



Yes, I Can Hear You, Clem Fandango

There’s something that I generally don’t mention on here about myself. Actually I don’t generally mention it to anybody. Not because it’s some big secret — it’s just that it doesn’t occur to me to mention it. Until now! (Try to contain yourselves.)

I do voice-over work as sort of a side hustle. That’s right, I get paid to talk.

Evidence of the photographic kind!

Photographic evidence.

It sounds way more interesting than it actually is. For example, today I was narrating a business class for high schoolers. You can only say “competitive parity” so many times before a little piece of you dies inside.

I did manage to think of something kind of funny whilst in the midst of all of the competitive parities, though:

Have you ever seen the program Toast of London?

If you haven’t, you are missing out. It’s Matt Berry playing as an actor named Steven Toast. Toast, in order to make ends meet, often does — you guessed it — a bit of voice over work. And can I just say that even though the incidents are exaggerated, they are weirdly accurate when it comes to doing this sort of work.

During his various escapades recording, he is always in a studio run by idiotic young adults who dress ridiculously. One young fella is called Clem Fandango. That’s Clem Fandango there, on the left.

Inevitably, in every single episode, Clem Fandango leans over and says into the production mic, “Steven, this is Clem Fandango, can you hear me?” To which Toast inevitably replies, “Yes, I can hear you Clem Fandango!” in an ever more exasperated tone.

Ahem. It really is a lot funnier than it looks with it just written out here. I promise.

Anyway, today during all of the competitive parity of my work this morning, I found myself feeling very tempted to hide a small clip saying “Yes, I can hear you Clem Fandango!” inside of my recording. Because, Clem Fandango.

Somehow I don’t think my employer would be nearly as entertained by it as me.

Ok, ok, I now realize that this post is probably not even funny to anybody but me. But I’ve already typed it, so …