Recently my friend Kingston and I were in one of my favourite Vegan spots, Catbar Barcelona. What follows is a brief summary of the conversation we were having.
Kingston: I’ll probably have the tofu burger. Looks pretty good! You..?
Me: I’ll definitely have the seitan burger.
Kingston: The what? The SATAN burger!?
Me: No, the seitan… the seiTAN burger..
Kingston: Like ‘El Diablo’? Or like ‘don’t say bronzed, say TAN’?
Me: I’m not sure, I’ve only ever seen it written down.
Kingston: Ask the waiter, he’s coming over.
Me: Yes, two tofu burgers, por favor!
In English we don’t have those lovely useful things like accents or indicators so we have to simply ‘know’ how something is pronounced. Feel free to consider the tomay’to/tomar’to debate (btw, nobody says potar’to).
Pants and trousers? Nobody cares what you call them, apart from the grammar purists who may as well be standing on thin ice in a heatwave. This language of ours is a rapidly shifting, mutating ball of energy that, even as a native speaker, I’m constantly having to add and edit my own personal dictionary.
Even world class authors have different opinions of grammar and spelling. So much so that Bill Bryson wrote a bestseller ‘troublesome words’ about it.
We often use words incorrectly. Even as native speakers, we still make mistakes.
When I was 15 years old I was working in a skate shop in my hometown. My boss used to skateboard to work everyday. In the summer he would often say something like “Oli, it’s so hot out there I literally died!” No, you didn’t Dave.
So, I guess you can say that there’s no better way to learn English than just to keep speaking it as often as possible and be flexible with your vocabulary. We can welcome new words. I only heard the expression ‘hot desking’ fairly recently but have been using it every week since. Have you used ‘one’ recently? As in, ‘one must do one’s duty’. I’ll tell you. No you haven’t.
If you want a great vegan burger, go to Catbar. If you want a great English class, come to me (cheeky)!