Expat Tweets

Follow @expatsinthecity

Expats Blog

living in the USA
People Places and Things

Say What?

The 1963 movie adaptation of the 1950 book The Great Escape was based on the true story of POWs in World War II. 76 POWs escaped from the high-security prison Stalag Luft III in German-occupied Poland through an underground tunnel dug by the prisoners. In the movie, despite not being able to speak German or Polish, two of the characters were one bus ride away from freedom when they were caught by a suspicious German officer. He said “good luck” in English and despite the circumstances, the Scottish escapee replied “thanks”.

Our brains are attuned to the familiar in language and idioms — these are all culturally dependent. Even polyglots have characteristic first-language only styles of speech. Some may say “Gesundheit” or “Bless you” after a person sneezes but they likely aren’t thinking “good health to you” or “may the devil not get your soul”. These types of responses mark your origins as much as or even more than your skin color or accent.

Do you OW, YEOUCH, EEEE, AIEEEE when in pain? What swear words are you likely to spout in anger? Do you sigh, tsk, or ai-ay when irritated? What does your cat say? Rollover below to find out.

The POWs in The Great Escape made a lot of plans. They were ingenious in digging the escape tunnels, forging travel documents, providing local maps, currency and even civilian clothing. However, being Allies (British, Australian, and American) in German-occupied Europe, they had little access to language or customs training — standard in today’s spy schools.

So listen for more than the accent. You may find compatriots or fellow expats with a yo, hey, hi, hello, heya,¬†aloha, *nod* or a simple “good luck”.


Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>