By Billy Hammond (Copyright AELS)

This story goes back to the days when I was teaching English conversation many years ago. My student was a businessman whose company had decided to send him on a sales trip to the States.

 

His English was pretty good and I was certain that he was at a level where he could handle just about any sales conversation.

 

After he came back he said that he’d encountered a communication problem with a drugstore cashier. Apparently he’d gone there to buy some deodorant (since he’d noticed that other businessmen used deodorant).

 

I asked him to repeat what he’d said so that I could check his pronunciation. He said something along the lines of: “I’ll take this.” and “Yes, I’ll take this.” His pronunciation was clear and very understandable as far as I could tell and I couldn’t imagine an American not understanding it.

 

He said the cashier had repeatedly asked him, “Are you sure?” and “Is this what you really want?” as if she didn’t understand his statement saying that he was intent on buying it.

 

Just on a hunch, I asked him if he still had the deodorant he’d purchased. He said he did and that he’d chosen it because it was a small size and he didn’t plan to use it in Japan.

 

The next class he pulled a can of FDS (Feminine Deodorant Spray) out of his bag and I realized the cause of his problem! In those days, the brand name FDS was displayed in big print on the can and the words “Feminine Deodorant Spray” were in very small print. He’d bought a deodorant spray that women use on their privates! The cashier understood him all right and was just trying to make him rethink what he was buying…

 

英語の発音問題じゃない!

この話は昭和時代の英会話指導頃から浮かんできた。当時の個人レッスン生徒は会社の部長でアメリカに営業出張が命じられた。彼の英語力は十分だったので営業で出る会話には問題ないと思っていた。

 

彼が出張から帰ってから授業で、薬局のレジの女性との会話が全く通じなかったと語った。どうやら何らかの発音問題があったと彼が思っていた。彼の話しによると出張先でアメリカ男性はデオドラントを使っていることに気付いたので自分も『変わっている』と思わせないため、薬局に買いに行った。

 

通じてなかった文章を言わすと「“I’ll take this.”(これにします)や“Yes, I’ll take this.”」だけを言ったようで、発音には何の問題がなかった。しかし、店員さんは「Are you sure?(これでいいですか?」とか「Is this what you really want?」これで本当にいいですか?」を何回も繰り返し、彼の言葉を理解していないようだった。

 

何となくの勘で彼に、買ったデオドラントがまだ残っていると尋ねると「スプレー缶が小さかったがまだ残っている。」と答えたため、次回のレッスンにそれを持ってくるように頼んだ。

 

次回のレッスン時に彼はかばんからFDS(Feminine Deodorant Spray[女性用デオドラントスプレー])を出した。当時の缶には“Feminine Deodorant Spray”であるブランドの説明字は小さく、目立たなかった。そこで問題解決!彼は女性が下半身の大事なところに使うデオドラント・スプレーを買った!レジの女性は彼の言葉をはっきり聞き取ったが、彼が買おうとしていた物を考え直させようとしていただけ

By Billy Hammond (Copyright A.E.L.S)

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English books by Billy Hammond published by AELS

(AELS出版英語書籍リスト)

 

I. Majoh Gakuin and Hikari Juku – Japanese Witch Schools Trilogy

1. Majoh Gakuin & Hikari Juku – Japanese Witch Schools

2. Lost Witch (The second book)

3. Fate & Magic (The final book in the trilogy)

II. Brindle – Scryer Extraordinaire Trilogy

1. Brindle – Scryer Extraordinaire

2. Brindle – Scryer Extraordinaire – Returns

3. Brindle – Scryer Extraordinaire – Challenges (The final book in the trilogy)

III. Fantasy fiction set in Japan

1. 21st Century Ninja

2. Regressed

3. Japanese Woman

IV. Fantasy fiction set outside of Japan

1. Dimension Jumpers

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