Living in a Multilingual country…

Living in a Multilingual country is always interesting. In some ways it is great-French here is everyones second language, so few speak it perfectly and people are generally willing to put up with my not-so-perfect French (unlike in France). More often than not people speak some English as well. As a matter of fact, most Africans speak 2-3 languages and I know people who speak 8 languages.

Last night I picked someone up at the airport. Spoke French to the porter, no problem. Then we had to speak to a Senior Security Guard to see if we could get in to the secure baggage claim area to help the woman we were picking up. He is huge and armed, and starts speaking in French WAY too fast for my current skills, so I sheepishly explain I am lost and ask if he speaks English. “No problem, he says, we will use English!” So I start speaking in English, and after 3 words he holds up his hand and says “Stop! That is American English, use BRITISH English!”

I was not sure what to do…I can SPELL British, but speak it? My British vocabulary is limited, and sadly, I didn’t need the loo. What would you do? 🙂

(I spoke slowly, and they did let us in. He was actually very nice the whole time)


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