Scott and Hiroko’s Big Adventure
I was asked to write a practice conversation using expressions that students study each week from a small English Vocabulary workbook that the Japanese English teacher herself makes and distributes to her students. Each page features twenty new words or expressions, with Japanese translations, supposedly on one theme, and each week the students are quizzed on one new page. Despite the theme, they still appear to be a rather random collection, and sometimes the English sounds a little odd to me. Oh, well. It’s not my place to question it. In my zeal to write a practice conversation that simultaneously is entertaining, uses as many expressions as I could fit, and uses them correctly, I wrote the following. However, it is so ridiculous that as I was practicing it with my daughter I laughed myself to tears. The culprit is less my sense of humor than the perils of trying to write a meaningful English conversation using a random selection of expressions. Using language correctly does not mean that you are communicating or even saying anything important. Correct grammar alone is not invested with meaning. Neither is vocabulary alone. Communication is more than grammar and vocabulary. It also includes expectations of the participants (expectations that can be socially or culturally tailored), body language, unanticipated culturally unique elements, etc.
Scott: Yoko! Long time no see!
Hiroko: I’m sorry? I’m not Yoko. I’m Hiroko.
Scott: You are? I beg your pardon. Do you remember me? My name is Scott Ziffel. It’s nice to meet you again.
Hiroko: Okay. I’m glad to see you, I guess.
Scott: So, Hiroko, what’s up?
Hiroko: My parents are flying here to visit me because I’m getting married on the weekend.
Scott: You are? Way to go! But why do you look so sad?
Hiroko: Well, do you know that cheap airline company, Origami Air?
Scott: Yes. What about it? You look worried. What’s wrong?
Hiroko: I’m worried, because my parents are traveling on it and they should have arrived hours ago. They are so late.
Scott: Calm down. Don’t worry about it. Be positive. Maybe their plane is late because of the weather.
Hiroko: Do you think so?
Scott: Yes,I think so. I really do.
Hiroko: Can I ask you a favor?
Scott: Of course. It’s my pleasure.
Hiroko: Well, can you look for my parents here and I will look for them over there. I’ve looked everywhere, and I’m ready to give up.
Scott: Oh,don’t give up. It will be easy. I can help you. What do they look like?
Hiroko: Well, my father is 2-meters tall, and my mother is only one meter tall.
Scott: I see. That really will be easy.
(Ten minutes later)
Scott: Oh, Hiroko, look! Are these your parents?
Hiroko: Oh,good job! You found them. Well, thank you. I’m leaving now.
Scott: Okay. Have a nice weekend. Let’s keep in touch.
Hiroko: Are you kidding?
Scott: No,I’m serious. Why do you ask?
Hiroko: Never mind. See you again.
Scott: You, too!