Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I learned a new word.

Atarashii kotoba wo oboemashita.

We have three African visitors at work this month. One is from Nigeria, one from Ghana, and one from Ethiopia. In all three of these countries, all higher (high school and above) education is done in English. In Ghana and Nigeria, all formal education goes on in English. I am wondering how much this has to do with the length of colonial rule (Ethiopia had a few years of occupation by Mussolini era Italy, but that's it) and ethnic diversity (all three nations consist of multiple nations/ nationalities/ tribes/ peoples with distinct cultures, but I think the lack of colonial rule resulted in a "dominant" local nationality/ language).

Sorry about that sidetrack. I'm utterly fascinated by the idea of English as a common language used by people who don't acquire it on their mother's knee. The point I'd wanted to make for purposes of this blog entry was that all three of these gentlemen speak grammatically correct English with mild accents that are neither American nor British.

Anyway, I was talking to the Ethiopian, and we were discussing a very new, very expensive drug used to treat certain types of cancer, and he said "the efficacy of the drug is without a doubt, but so is its financial toxicity."

Financial toxicity! What a dismally descriptive phrase!

I wondered if perhaps this was an African phrase (it doesn't seem to be used in the US. If any of my Brit friends could comment, I would appreciate it) and asked the Ghanaian and the Nigerian. The Ghanaian said "oh, we would say the drug causes 'pocketitis'"

Pocketitis. A severe inflammation of the pockets. The inflammatory process can be reversed if in its early stages. Or something.

I'm hoping to learn some more African English while they are with us. Keep in touch?

2 comments:

Livy (^_^)v said...

"Financial toxicity."
Yes, it must've came from their local phrases.
Just like when the Americans call it "Puppy love", in here we call it "Monkey love". My American friend is quite fascinated with that phrase, she thanked me for sharing it. She thinks "Monkey love" is a much better phrase to have for the issue.
Waaaaakakakakakakkakakakk... (^o^)v

pumpkinmommy said...

The only problem would be that in the US and UK, monkeys are not part of the indigenous wildlife.