The D’English patient

When we first moved to Canada, dad's English vocabulary was limited

Like many immigrants to Canada, my folks found it difficult adapting to a new language. They and their friends employed a mix of Dutch and English which became it’s own dialect. We called it D’English.

Dad’s first job in Canada was on a farm. His vocabulary was rudimentary. It was thus baffling to him when the farmer ordered him to take the cow out and get her ‘bred.’

“In Holland, cow eats hay not bread,” he replied.

I can still imagine dad taking Ol’ Bessie to Denny’s for the grand slam breakfast.

Dad’s next job was at a construction site. His co-workers were only too happy to teach him a whole variety of new words. A few days later mom and dad went to a dinner party where he proudly displayed his new lexicon. He turned to the hostess and said, “This is the best !@#$% roast beef I ever have.”

There was stunned silence.

“What is the matter? Dad asked sheepishly. “I pronounce it wrong?”

Dad sometimes got so frustrated by the vagaries of English, that he started making up his own phrases. Whenever I got too mouthy, he’d sternly say, “Not so many buffles!”

I’ve yet to find a linguist who knows what that means. I wasn’t sure either, at first. But I got the gist of it when he started taking off his belt.

Sometimes dad would reverse the meaning of words and phrases. For instance, whenever the Leafs were ahead in the third period, he’d say, “Toronto really has its back against the wall.”

“But dad, we’ve got a five-goal lead!”

“Exactly!”

You can tell how long ago that was. When was the last time you remember a Leaf team with a five-goal lead?

Dad’s friends were also masters of D’English. I was heading outside one cold autumn day when a Dutch visitor said, “Make sure you take something along to break wind.”

“How about a can of beans?” I laughed.

Dad glared at me. “Not so many buffles!”

Mind you, Mom wasn’t exempt either. I once told her that I’d love to be a chaplain. It’s not a word that flows off the Dutch tongue.

Later on she asked, “Did you say you’re going to be a cardinal?”

“No, mom, they hardly ever let Baptists pick the next pope.”

It’s not just the Dutch who have their own language. Doctors do too. I call it Doclish. It’s a language designed to mollify frightened D’English patients. Why else call a tumor a growth? It’s the perfect euphemism. After all, who could possibly be against growth?

Which leads me to my beef with politicians. With the world economy shrinking fast, it won’t be long before some finance minister remarks, “Don’t worry folks, the economy is now in complete remission!”

Exactly. No more growth.

 

If my dad were here, he’d tell them off. “Not so many buffles!” he’d say. The politicians wouldn’t know what he meant. But I’d feel better. After all, I’m D’English.

 

 

Just Posted

Touring exhibit from Royal B.C. Museum highlights First Nations languages

Qualicum Beach Museum will be home to a variety of interactive stations

‘Dirty Money’ in Nanoose Bay: Dr. Peter German to speak at ElderCollege

‘This is an evolving study’: presenting up-to-date information on B.C. organized crime

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh to campaign in Port Alberni

Singh joins Courtenay-Alberni candidate for rally to kick off final weekend before election

Winter preparation underway for mid-Island highways

Drivers reminded to ready vehicles for changing conditions

Qualicum Beach council discusses helping out Orca Place residents

Town considers offer of temporary jobs in the future

ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

Conservative Andrew Scheer vows to cut bottom bracket, NDP’s Jagmeet Singh targets wealth tax

Talk to your kids about vaping, B.C.’s top doctor says

B.C. health officials have discovered the first vaping-related illness in the province

Alberta truck convoy plans counter-protest at climate rally with Greta Thunberg

United We Roll organizer says similar protest planned for Swedish teen’s event in Edmonton

Scheer, Trudeau, Singh haggle over potential minority government outcome

If you believe the polls, it appears the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck

British family deported after ‘accidental’ U.S. border crossing

U.S. officials deny it was mistake, release video of vehicle crossing into Washington from Langley

Kamloops man hangs on to back of stolen truck as suspect speeds away, crashes

The pickup truck was seen leaving the roadway before bursting into flames

‘Sky didn’t fall:’ Police, lawyers still adjusting after pot legalization

Statistics Canada says 541 people were charged under the federal Cannabis Act between Oct. 17, 2018 and the end of the year

Fewer people prescribed opioids in B.C., but other provinces lack data: doctors

Patients who began taking opioids were prescribed smaller doses for shorter duration

Electric cello, stolen from vehicle in Williams Lake, returned to U.S. owner

Rita Rice of Texas said she and her husband had given up hope of ever seeing it again

Most Read