Sunday, 11 July 2010

On my photos from Britain, beer and translations

Photos from Britain
The collection is nearly complete. I only need to do a few more from the last segment and I am done.

I have just finished reading Nicholas Pashley's Cheers! an intemperate history of beer in Canada. Having just returned from Britain where one of my techniques for finding food was to go to pubs that featured real ale, I found it a fascinating read. (My ad hoc rule-of-thumb in Britain was that pubs with real ale generally had good food. "Good food" being defined as stick to the ribs, keep-you-going-tomorrow, but not nasty food.) I must note the brewpubs Nicholas Pashley recommends in places that I may yet visit as part of AMUAM JuNITO. These include Calgary, Regina and Winnipeg as well as St-John's.

I was in a pub (probably in Coniston) when I witnessed a barkeep trying to describe what the local oatmeal stout tasted like to an older, Midwestern-American couple. After listening to his poor efforts (he was no poet) I piped up with that it was rather like Guinness, a.k.a. the only stout that most Americans know about. This earned me something of a black look from the barkeep as he was most insistent that it was different (and better) than Guinness. However, my point was that to these beer illiterate Yanks, Guinness was the best reference point to describe the local product.

Similarly, I acted as a translator a fair bit whilst I was in Britain. Some of it was quite blatant translation, such as the time a confused French tourist turned to me to ask if I knew French, as couldn't understand what the staff person at the youth hostel was trying to tell her. I think she was pleasantly surprised when I replied in fluent French, even if it was Québécois French. I spoke a surprising amount of French on my trip, though this included Donald and Dominque's French au pair.

As well, I overheard a conversation between some Spanish(?) tourists and a tourist information officer at the Glasgow tourist office which appeared to revolve around which currencies they could pay for a tour in. The information clerk kept on talking about Sterling and Euros. As the tourists seemed a bit confused, I quietly suggested to the clerk that maybe he should refer to the local currency as "pounds" rather than "Sterling".

I guess the point of these anecdotes is to say that I had to act as an interpreter in more ways that one whilst in Britain.

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