Can She Speak English?

Despite actually being English, I’ve finally come to the realisation, after many blank stares and “can you repeat that please?”s that English is in fact my second language. My first is Geordie.

My first experience of this was when I bounded like a Labrador puppy into see all the young people I was going to work with at Waan Aelon in Majel (WAM) in the Marshall Islands… what I thought I said was: “Hello!! I’m Aylssa, I’m the new Jessica! It’s great to meet you all!!” What they heard was something akin to whale noises, but of course they all nodded and smiled. They later asked my boss if I could speak English. “She’s from England”, he assured them, “she’s as English as the queen”… erm… My partner became my interpreter.

It’s hard though because there’s words that Geordies use as part of their everyday language which despite my speaking ten times slower now than is natural (Its really hard!) still pop out particularly:

Iz. Iz?! Do you know how hard it is to say “me”? I don’t think I’d ever said “me” until I moved abroad.

Yus. As in “where are yus going?”. Blank face. YOU. Where are you going?!

Howay. Canny. Lush. Numpty. Divvy. Skiving. Belta. Divvint. Gannin. Aye. Nowt…

I cannet help it lyk. Ah tark the wey ah tark …

“Pretend you’re on the phone!” my colleague pleads. I try. Honestly I try…

I told a story to a friend once about almost being killed by standing behind a jet engine taking off and losing a shoe… he looked at me blankly and said:

“I’m pretty sure that was hilarious but all I heard was babble babble babble babble hahahahahah hahahahahah”

Maybe I should take some English as an Additional Language Classes.

(Originally posted on

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