January 13, 2004

Linguistic Obstacles at Legal Sea Foods

All this talk about Legal Sea Foods reminds me of a dinner I had there many years ago. A friend of mine who speaks Japanese had met a Japanese visiting scholar who could read English but was quite incapable of speaking it. Since I also speak Japanese, he had arranged for the three of us to go out together to provide the Japanese fellow some conversation. We had to wait for a table, so we went to the Oyster Bar. Our Japanese friend decided to order some oysters. He rehearsed his speech with us, girded his loins, and went off to order oysters. He returned crushed: he had been unsuccessful. Curious as to what had gone wrong, I went up to the counter and addressed myself to the guy who sat behind it shucking oysters. He responded, in Portuguese, that he didn't speak English. It turned out that he had only arrived from the Azores three weeks previously. His cousin was the one who was supposed to take orders but had gone into the kitchen. Sometimes you just can't win.

Posted by Bill Poser at January 13, 2004 11:34 PM