Someone asked me recently if I had trouble remembering to drive on the “other” side of the road, now I’m over here in the US. Really, the answer is no – it’s not those sort of things that trip me up. It’s the more subtle things like language.
And in language, it’s not the obvious word usages that trip me up. It’s not things like calling the area I walk on a sidewalk, and not a path, or the thing that you turn to get water a faucet, not a tap. No, it’s the things I hear, which are different from the things that are said.
For example, someone might say to me “the report is on the bookcase” and I will nod and say “OK” – because I hear that as a statement telling me where the report is. But then a while later they go to the bookcase and, not finding the report, they ask what I have done with it?
And now we are both confused; I’m thinking, I have no idea where the report is, how would I know, the only thing I know is that you told me it was on the bookcase; they are thinking, why did Derek tell me the report was on the bookcase when it wasn’t?
Because I missed that it was not a statement – it was a question asking if the report was there. And my acknowledgement of what I thought was a statement was taken as an answer – yes, I can confirm that the report is, indeed, on the bookcase.
Driving a car is easy in comparison – navigating my way through language is way more difficult!