Friday, February 1, 2008

Basic English vocabulary

The other day two new students -- refugees from Burundi -- came into my office. "Adele" wanted to be sure she and her sister were headed for the right class. The conversation went something like this:

Adele:  "Me go room 204?"

Me:  "Yes, you will go to room 204."

Adele: [indicating her sister] "Me, her, go room 204?"

Me:  "Yes, you will both go to room 204."

Adele:  "You go me-her room 204?"

Me:  "Would you like me to go with you to show you the room?"

[Enthusiastic nodding.]

As we were leaving my office, Adele dropped her water bottle and said, very clearly, "S**t! [pause] 'Scuse me."

Apparently the list of "basic" vocabulary words includes a few items a lot of people wouldn't necessarily expect.