Ahhhh, say what?
"What do you mean Pat?" I asked, puzzled.
I speak English, have done all my life. And I can limp along in German and French, albeit causing great mental anguish to myself and whoever is listening. None of which makes me any more qualified than the next person to teach English to foreigners.
Turns out Pat thought I'd grown up speaking Irish, that everyone in Ireland spoke Irish. Which is a logical thing to assume. but so far from the truth. The Sassenachs did a grand job of almost squashing Irish. Children back in the old days got punished for every word of Irish they spoke, so very soon, being Irish and therefore brilliant, they learned to speak English instead. When I was a child, and Ireland was independent again, Irish, which is a very difficult language, was just something we had to slog through as the nuns tried to undo the damage done by generations of English rule.
It was an uphill battle. They started us in Kindergarten and pounded it into our heads every day until we left school at eighteen. I liked it well enough, but shhhh! Don't tell the nuns, I liked French much more! That is something I can only now admit. Back then I would have been branded a traitor. How unpatriotic! Irish was up there with Latin. I loved the words, but Dear God! The grammar!
On our honeymoon we drove all around the west and northwest of Ireland. One day, walking along a road in Donegal we met a local. He raised his hat to us and greeted us in Irish.
"Dia is Muire guit!" I gamely replied.
All those years of daily slogging should be good for something, right? And besides, I had a newly minted American husband to impress and I was quick to recognize an opportunity to knock his socks off. So I spouted some small talk about the weather to our new acquaintance. He wrinkled his weathered brow in puzzlement. He didn't seem to comprehend a word and hit me with several sentences in a row, not one word of which I could understand. I knew he was speaking Irish, but that was as far as it went. The newly minted husband was having trouble keeping a straight face, and my own face was turning a deeper shade of red with every Irish word the man spoke.
Alas and alack Patricia my dear, I won't be bringing any special linguistic brilliance to the teaching of English as a second language!
Note to Ali Honey: I don't think I speak with too much of an accent. At least not until I hear my own voice on a phone message....Then I think it's my sister I'm hearing!