the other day before we went to the cinema, i put my [insert word for bag that women carry here] into the [insert word for the storage compartment located at the back of the car], but took out my [insert word for a small foldable container for money, credit cards, and the like ] so that i would have cash and an ID on me to get the movie tickets. later, the following conversation ensued:

bill: it’s a good thing you didn’t forget your purse in the cinema.
me: but, how could i forget my purse in the cinema when i left it in the trunk of the car?
bill: no, you left your handbag in the boot and took your purse inside.
me: no, i left my purse in the trunk and took my wallet inside.
both of us: fits of giggle

the craziest part about dating someone that is not of your cultural background is the language barrier. it’s totally unexpected. it’s not like bill is some crazy culchie (read: country boy) from the backwoods of county cavan. he is a posh rathfarnhamer with a corresponding posh south dublin accent. but we seem to have developed an ongoing dialogue about what things are called and how they are pronounced and which one is better.

not to mention that, ever since china, i have been completely confused about the english language altogether. first i stopped saying bathrooms and particularly restrooms (that’s SO american) in favour of wc, an antiquated phrase that chinese students love because it’s so easy to remember. now i have given up wc in favour of toilets and generally save bathrooms for the times when i am actually going into a room that has a bath or shower in it.

and i still waffle between saying “tomAto” and “tomAHto” which totally gives away my confusion on the subject of irish vowels. and the real kicker is ‘water’. i don’t think i’ll ever be able to give up the vocalised /d/ that americans are so fond of using in the middle of that word. it’s such a giveaway. i drink wahder, that’s all there is to it.

i was trying to explain to ann marie a few weeks ago how, in some ways, i feel like i’m on MORE of an upwards climb here in terms of language adaptation, only in that i am a) pigeon-holed into an accent, where non-native speakers would be able to alter their pronunciation more readily (i have a finnish classmate who’s been in dublin for 7 years and sounds like she’s from here) and b) i am stereotyped for my accent – it’s just obvious where i’m from.

there have been a few incidents that upped my general feeling of linguistic competence. a taxi driver here and there who has been unable to pinpoint my heritage. an american friend visiting said i ‘sounded irish’ which i took as a big compliment, even though i know it’s not true. i suppose the problem isn’t sounding one way or the other, it’s just simply that i can’t decide WHAT i should sound like. i would hate to be that yank poser who ‘went native’ with the accent. *cringe*

it is a much longer process to realise the deep-seated cultural differences between myself and bill or ann marie (of which there are many, indeed), than it was to realise them in china. for obvious reasons. but at least more than occasionally now, i can be heard slinging around phrases like ‘yer man’ and ‘what’s the craic’ and ‘deadly’ with some skill and ease. not to mention that all of my dry goods go in the press, not the cabinet. my mobile (not my cell) is charging on the nightstand, and guinness isn’t beer, and that’s an important distinction to make.

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