04 May, 2010


I am a native English speaker. Some places I've been, it has been difficult to know if the person was speaking English or some other local language. Other places, however, I know it's English, it's just a different version of English. And others just have a telltale accent for some words. For example, take Boston: They don't know how to pronounce 'r'. They've got Hah-vahd University and they eat clam chowdah. Or how many of you have ever ordered fried rice at a restaurant and when they bring it, they say 'flied lice' because the 'r' turns into an 'l' for some reason. Yeah, there's a population in Kenya who do the same, but they also pronounce the 'l' as an 'r', so when the Elections took place in Sudan, the people who work for the Carter Center were described as the ones who were responsible for the ... well, you can figure that out on your own.

Where I am now, 'b' and 'p' are commonly confused. Somalis are known for fighting, but I didn't know how much they prized it until recently. There's been enough fighting going on here for the last several decades to keep things from developing too much, but when I received the above recommendation as we were looking to hire for a new position, I was a little surprised. Seriously, maybe being aggressive is a positive trait here, but I really wouldn't think to find it in a reference letter. How many people do you know who want an employee who is 'combatant' (see the highlight in yellow above)? After I realized that the person meant 'competent' and not 'combatant', I had a little laugh about the difference in language, and added it to the list of interesting application letters we have received.

Anyway, thought I'd share a little bit of comedy that we experience here. It's one of the little things that help to bring a smile and remind me that there's so many things about life that I'd never get to experience were I not here.