Category: Language & Words


It’s All Pennsylvania Double-Dutch To Me

| NY, USA | Coworkers, Health & Body, Language & Words

(I’m a patient-care technician in a very, very small hospital. Since this is rural hospital, we don’t really do much at night, but we have to stay open. Also on shift is a nurse from New York City, who really thinks she is all that and feels that we should worship her for deigning to work at this podunk hospital where she can spread her superior experience upon us. She’s sent to do intake on a nine-year-old boy brought by ambulance with a head injury after he fell out of a tree. She comes back to us, panicking:)

New Nurse: “Doctor, he doesn’t understand language anymore. He’s unresponsive to language.”

Doctor: “Really? That’s not good.”

(He asks me to come into the room with him to help, and the new nurse follows behind us. We enter the room and immediately realize that he is Amish. We quickly know the problem.)

Doctor: “[My Name], are his parents out in the waiting room yet?”

Me: “Yep.”

Doctor: “Go get them?”

(I go get the parents.)

Doctor: *to parents* “Can you ask him to count to ten, please?”

(The parents do so, speaking Pennsylvania Dutch. The new nurse sat there in with her eyebrow furrowed. After the doctor finishes he goes out in the hallway laughing.)

Nurse: “What is going on?”

(The doctor can’t stop laughing long enough to answer, so I do.)

Me: “He’s Amish. The Amish speak a different language called Pennsylvania Dutch — it’s a kind of Low German. At least in the community here, they don’t grow up learning English, and learn it as a second language when they’re in the early teens. He wasn’t responding to you for two reasons. One: he didn’t understand what you were saying. Two: he has been taught to be a little wary of non-Amish people, so he was afraid of you.”

Nurse: “Well, that’s ridiculous.”

Doctor: “Didn’t teach you that one in your fancy NYC hospital, did they? But you should have seen the look on your face.”


Patience Impaired

| UK | Bad Behavior, Language & Words

(I have just left university and, upon my dad’s insistence, I have called up to register myself for job seeker’s allowance. The operator who answers has a very thick Scottish accent.)

Operator: “Thank you for calling. How can I help?”

Me: “Hi, I need to register for JSA.”

Operator: “Sure, I just need to take some details.”

Me: “Sure, but I have to warn you. I’m hearing impaired so I might need things repeated.”

Operator: “That’s fine. So can I take your name?”

Me: “[My Name].”

(She continues to take my basic details and everything is fine until:)

Operator: “And [unintelligible question]?”

Me: “Can you repeat that?”

(She does, but two minutes later:)

Operator: “Now, what is [unintelligible]?”

Me: “I’m sorry; could you repeat that?”

(She does, but it keeps happening until eventually:)

Me: “Sorry, can you say that again?”

Operator: “No.” *hangs up*

(I rang back to get a different operator, but had to go through everything again only to be told I couldn’t register for another few weeks anyway. But he said there was a note that I had been rude, particularly about her accent, which he was going to remove since I clearly stated I was hearing impaired and my surname is very obviously Scottish, even if I’ve lost most of my accent.)


“Please” Is A Foreign Word These Days

| Rochester, NY, USA | Employees, Extra Stupid, Language & Words

(My parents take my boyfriend and me out to a restaurant. It takes us a few minutes to get the attention of an employee to seat us.)

Boyfriend: “Hi. We have four, please.”

Server: *blank look* “Four… please?”

Us: “…”

(A hostess finally shows up.)

Hostess: “Can I help you?” *looks at the server*

Server: *still blank* ” Four…?”

Me: “Can we get a TABLE for FOUR, please?”


Legal Fees Are Eternal

| UK | Coworkers, Language & Words

(I work as a nurse in a hospital. The phone at the nurses station rings, I pick up and it’s our ward clerk.)

Clerk: “Hi, I got Mr. [Patient]’s eternity on the phone.”

Me: “Who?!”

Clerk: “His eternity.”

Me: *thinking, is my patient dead and am I having an out-of-body experience right now?* “Um… put them through?”

Voice On The Phone: “Hello, I’m Mr. [Patient]’s solicitor. I’m calling to enquiry into…”

(After the phone call, I walk to the clerk’s desk.)

Me: “So, when you say eternity… Did you mean attorney?”

Clerk: “Oh, I can’t pronounce that word.”

Me: “Why can’t you just say lawyer?”


You Can Swear By Her Behavior

| Bozeman, MT, USA | Coworkers, Language & Words, Rude & Risque

(My coworker has a HUGE potty mouth. It’s what she’s known for. Our phones and half the hotels on our side of town are having trouble with outside lines. We can answer and talk to people but not hear them. As I’m closing my shift I warn her about them and tell her they are being worked on.)

Me: “Oh, and the person calling can hear you so for the love of Pete, don’t swear at the phone!”

Coworker: “Well, s***! I’m gonna f*** that up!”

(The phones were fixed before she could.)