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Between countries; between accents 8 October, 2004

Posted by monopod in Observations, Self-Absorption.

Every time I return from Singapore to the UK my tongue refuses to cooperate. A case in point from my recent encounter with the nice man at the passport control desk:

Man: So you’re studying in the UK?

Me (all right so far): No, working.

Man: What do you do?

Me (falling over tongue): I work at War….War {incomprehensible} Warwick as an adminis{incomprehensible – I can never pronounce this at speed. One would suggest pronouncing it more slowly and deliberately, but then I risk sounding completely deranged} administrative officer.

Man: Where’s your work permit?

Me (and this is the coherent version): Oh, I don’t need one. Er – I mean I had one, and it errrr expired – ermm I’m now on my husband’s work permit. Um a dependant.

Man: So you’re coming into the country as a dependant?

Me: Errr yes. {sounding like a fraud by this stage}

Man: Ok.

I think the uncooperative tongue difficulty is compounded by the fact that in the airport my language is typically in limbo. The tongue slips easily into either its Singaporean English incarnation or its UK incarnation once the environment is right, but the airport is a bit of a bugger to get around. I never know if I’m coming or going.



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