Sunday, July 27, 2008


So why do they all speak differently?

Well, the French have always had a bit (or a more than a bit) of their fine red wine, so they tend to slush their words together in that romantic nasal way.

The Spanish and Italians have are always talking between cups of coffee, which is why they rattle on like machine guns under Mussolini with the fury of Franco.

The Germans are so anxious about the outbreak of another war, they tend to grit their teeth in that officiously winsome way, speaking slowly and clearly, lest their be any miss-oonda-shtending. Vee mean no hahm.

The Portuguese feel so left out in the cold from the rest of Europe that they decided to just put Spanish into Pig Latin and head for Brazil.

The Polish have been, for centuries, covertly subsidized by the Russians to speak something even more sibilant and polyphonic than Russian, just to scare out would-be Napoleons and Hitlers. The program is still in the pilot phase.

The English, meanwhile, have listened to all this across the strait, with no lack of colonial concern, and taken up cool, measured, legal tones to determine how to carve up Europa Nova better than India Antiqua once the Continentals finally have it out once and for all. Quite.

And the Americans? They are always just trying to sell you something, which is why they talk with the buttery charm of the French, the stupefying technicality of the English, and dizzying speed of the Spanish.

Don't ask me for references. Just nod and apply when abroad.

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