e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu

7/14/2010

red tape

So I'm on the phone with the Lebanese Consulate and we're chatting in English about visas. The person on the other end of the line seems extremely impatient and annoyed as I ask what I think are entirely reasonable questions. The call has an overall grumpy quality until I say "shukran" (thank you) and then the whole tone changes. The woman issues an amused chuckle, a reaction no doubt to my Arabic pronunciation, and becomes friendly.

At several points during Fulbright orientation, presenters suggested that a little bit of Arabic works wonders and that native speakers tend to have a lot of respect for Americas who at least try to speak the language. True enough. Plus, if my non-native pronunciation can provide a little comic relief in a bureaucratic setting, than I'm glad to be of service. Fulbrighters are supposed to be ambassadors, after all. If you think my "thank you" is something, you should hear my "Can I have a falafel sandwich please?*"

*oreedoo falafel, minfudluck

3 comments:

Luisa said...

Bill I have learned that what you discovered from your interaction with the Lebanese woman is true in other cultures. Perhaps with the exception of some French. I know my pronunciations were just a source of ridicule.

Dear one have a wonderful and safe trip.

iyos said...

ok...........................

iyos said...

ok..........