I’m writing about a character who doesn’t have English as her native language, although she’s lived in London long enough for English Â not to be accurately described, perhaps, as her second language — more her first through usage and acclimatisation.
I’m therefore always interested in theÂ idiosyncrasiesÂ of how non-native speakers construct their English speech. Germans, like Kim, are generally very precise — although they often literally translate German grammatical construction (quite often possessives — like ‘the department of Mr Schulze’) and occasionally get tripped up on word genders (talking about inanimate objects as he or she).
But most young people who have constant exposure through living in this country will tend to speak very fluently — picking up English figures of speech and phrasing. They might sometimes want to draw attention to their ‘otherness’, though, as Kim does — which sometimes comes across on the page as inconsistency — although it’s deliberate on my behalf.
So I think Kim would have been more than bemused by this shop window in High Wycombe — on the main shopping street too. I’m sure she’d be horrified — Â she’s a cultural snob and very proud of her own language abilities.
It’s hard to know where to start in terms of listing the errors in the huge poster — but, despite its mistakes, it makes itself understood — in a similar way to how very limited English speakers often get their message across — perhaps one of the reasons why English is such a ubiquitous language?