My office-mate, Gabriela, wants us to get an office parrot. Apparently it’ll be good company. Given my own track record with flora and fauna, I’m reluctant to commit to more than a shared plant. Preferably one that doesn’t need watering. And since neither of us has actually bothered to buy a plant yet, it’s fairly safe to assume that we’ll never get around to going parrot-shopping either.
Were we to to get a parrot, though, what a linguistically confusing home we would provide! I have stuck stubbornly to British terminology, rather than converting to Canadian English. Colleagues are therefore becoming familiar with expressions such as loo, stroppy, plonker, canteen and, as a term of endearment, chicken. Downtown has been added to my vocabulary, since it is essential when communicating with bus drivers, and awesome has slipped in accidentally, which frustrates me because, let’s be honest, not many things are genuinely awesome. Speaking of frustration, Canadians seem to be frustrated at times when Brits would choose between angry, upset, annoyed or pissed off. Sometimes, however, people tell me they are really pissed, which does not mean they are drunk. Illness also causes confusion: In Britain, if we say we’ve been sick it means we have just vomited. Anything not vomit-related is described as poorly, peaky, unwell or ill. And whilst not generally prudish, I feel alarmed if people comment on my pants.
In addition to all the differences between British and Canadian English, Gabriela’s spoken English has a strong Mexican accent and she sometimes switches into Spanish. My own accent is also considered exotic by our neighbours. It’s challenging enough just for the two us of to understand each other, let alone for a bird to comprehend and participate.
There is one potential plus to the parrot proposal, though: Yesterday, Gabriela was humming a folk song as she worked. After a while, despite not knowing the words, I followed in canon. It was great to do some impromptu part-singing! With another vocalist (even a winged one), the SSA improvisations could be endless. Despite this, I’m still against actually getting a parrot. But now that Gabriela and I have jammed together, I’m a bit more confident that we can develop the level of teamwork required to actually keep a plant alive.