Traveler's Tales

January 2007

Language Stories  Here are some true stories about languages.
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Language Stories

No Right Turn on Red.
A German liaison officer came to the U.S. to work for several years at a military base in New Mexico. He spoke good English as well as German. Since he and his wife were staying so long he was able to obtain a New Mexico driver's license. On one of their trips back to Germany, he and his wife were driving in a rental car. Accustomed to making a right turn on red in the United States, he forgot it was not allowed in Germany, and he made such a turn. The little green and white German police car was on him in a flash.

He showed the police officer his New Mexico Driver's license but talked to him in perfect German.  The police officer thought he was an American and explained that right turns on red were not allowed. He decided not to give him a ticket. As the police officer was ready to leave, he said that he had never heard an American speak such good German before and he was wondering how he learned it so well. Without missing a beat the German officer told him "My wife is German."


Sorry, The Gift Shop Is Closed.  When I was in Martinique on a Caribbean vacation, I decided to learn a little Martinique Creole. It is sort of the Martinique version of French, the official language of the island which belongs to France. Well, on Sunday morning, I came down to the hotel lobby to buy some postcards but the gift shop was closed. I was scheduled to leave by plane in the afternoon and the hotel desk clerk said it wouldn't be open until after my flight left. I explained my problem but she just said "Sorry, there is nothing I can do." We got to talking and I asked if I could try out some of the Martinique Creole I had learned.

She was surprised that I was learning a little of  their local language. We had some fun doing this and she was impressed with my pronunciation. After a while, I again said how much I regretted not being able to get some postcards and stamps before I left. This time she said "Just a minute" and went and got the key and opened the gift shop and let me buy some postcards and stamps. I don't know if speaking a little Martinique Creole gave her a change of heart or not, but I got my postcards and stamps after all.

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