ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Tongue Tied

Updated on October 7, 2010

It was already evening when my group of 89 tourists arrived at the base of Mount Sinai, and we were given the option of making the trek up the mountain on foot, or on camel. I wanted to walk it, probably just for the sake of saying I did so, but I was talked out of this. My brother made his case for saving energy, and since I certainly did not want to get separated and come down this mountain with my dimming wits and my dimming flashlight by myself in a few hours, of my own free will I chose to ride the camel. I don't know the name of the camel I was given, but for the purpose of relaying this story his name will be Muhammad, as that name is rather popular in the Middle East. Go figure.

I do not recommend camel rides. Why did I think it would be like riding a horse? They should come with a, "I am not a horse" sign, with a surgeon general warning about how wildly uncomfortable it will be to remain on its weird little back. I believe camels grew their lumps specifically to avoid having to give rides to people, but that never stops a group of tourists in "I heart Egypt" hats. Nope, we are gluttons for punishment. One of the main issues, despite how deliberately uncomfortable he was, that Muhammad and I were having, was our serious breach in communication. I insisted on speaking English to my camel, and no matter how many mannerly, "let's go camel" or, "no, not that way, camel!" suggestions I gave the camel, it simply wasn't working. It wasn't until the shephards shouted at him in Arabic that he listened completely. I would swear he turned and looked at me at one point with a "why didn't you just say that," look. My Arabic is rusty. We did however make the clumsy trek all the way to the base of the 720 stairs that one must climb to get to the top of Mount Sinai.

My experience with Muhammad, and our uncomfortable 90 minutes together, made me reflect on some of the other communication issues that we'd had on our trip. I don't speak Arabic, as I mentioned, nor Hebrew, and this trip, I didn't bring any books, dictionaries, or any other resources to help me out of tight spots in the Middle East. I actually thought I'd survive using the evil baby approach, assuming that I'd pick up a few key words from just listening like a toddler. I figured if they can do it, why can't I? The evil baby approach was a failure. I spoke English or charades to get what I needed.

Our tour group was all English speaking, but as some of our English speakers were from England, Australia, and New Zealand, they had a difficult time with the corrupted English spoken by the Americans. As my dear, and tactless brother put it, "I don't speak the King's English, I speak the President's English." The Americans were lost when the British stated that we'd take a break to use the loo (bathroom), or when they insisted on calling a flashlight a torch. We tried to tell them that a torch has flames in our world, and that a light did not have to actually flash to be a flashlight. They were committed to the use of "boot" for the trunk of a car, and were sure trunks only belonged to elephants. A great debate arose over the use of chips for what we know in America as fries, and crisps for what we call chips. When I was offered what I consider to be a cookie, by a girl named Amy from England, she told me that it was an oat biscuit. When I mentioned that it had everything about it that made it a cookie in the US, and why was it a biscuit in England? She said in her lovely accent, "well, cookies to us are soft, and doughy, when it's flat and hard like this it's a proper biscuit." I told her the only way I grasped that concept was to relate it to a dog biscuit, so in England they must have human biscuits and mark them as such. She seemed puzzled, but laughed anyway. I've been to England, I knew this biscuit issue, but my evil streak liked frustrating this girl. An Australian woman of about 60 years old in our group was seated near my parents on the bus, and casually refered to an actor as a "pussy" in front of a bunch of older, and conservative people. She thought nothing of it, except my parents were laughing their heads off, and she replied, "oh, yes, that's unmannerly to say in America." She meant the description in the same way it would be used in the US.

The language barrier issues are summed up best by what happened during my final dinner in Nazareth. I had a plate of food I was cautiously eating, and was sitting across from an elderly woman with a slight case of the giggles.

"Do you know what that is, hon?" she asked, pointing to what I had decided was beef.

"My best guess is beef, ma'am." I said to her, which made her laugh harder. She waved me closer to her.

"No, I asked the man in the hat. His English wasn't very good, but he said that those are bull's penis ," her eyes were big with concern.

I am not phased by this revelation. "Yeah, I'm pretty much going to give these a shot. It seems rather expensive and crazy to castrate a bunch of bulls, make them kosher, and serve them with rice. I guess it could be done, but are you sure about this, sister?"

She was shaking her head yes, when my brother, who was sitting next to me asked, "are you sure he didn't mean meat balls ?"

Her face reverted to an instant "aha!" expression, as if a light bulb of reasonableness had just come on.

"Oh...yes, that's probably what he meant," she said, and happily began eating her meal.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • ahostagesituation profile imageAUTHOR

      SJ 

      8 years ago

      Sure, happy to.

    • profile image

      Arab Girls 

      8 years ago

      thanks for nice sharing.

    • ahostagesituation profile imageAUTHOR

      SJ 

      8 years ago

      Thanks, Habee, funny experiences.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      OMG, this is great! I LOVE your sense of humor!

    • ahostagesituation profile imageAUTHOR

      SJ 

      8 years ago

      LOL, Karen, thanks a lot. I love my dear, tactless brother dearly. No one makes me laugh like that fool.

    • karenmc419 profile image

      karenmc419 

      8 years ago

      After the "buffet" incident, I am really impressed with you :)

      "I don't speak the King's English, I speak the President's English." I just fell in love with your "dear, tactless brother". As I am verb/adjective challenged, I can just say it is a GREAT story as usual. Off to read more.

    • ahostagesituation profile imageAUTHOR

      SJ 

      8 years ago

      Thanks, Chelsea! Keep writing, btw.

    • profile image

      Chelsea  

      8 years ago

      HILARIOUS!!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)