Having conversations in Beirut involves a unique mix of Arabic, English and even French. It makes becoming fluent in Arabic in this city quite difficult… although it does make communicating easier. People don’t even blink if you insert an English word in the middle of an Arabic sentence – which is generally what I do when I don’t know the word or want to be really precise. I even find myself using Arabic filler words when I am speaking in English. “Ay, she’s really cranky today, li2anna she didn’t sleep well last night.” If I was the only person doing this, it would be weird, but it’s a very common way of speaking. Even our pastor or newscasters do it.
But sometimes it causes problems. Like when my fifth graders were studying the circulatory system yesterday. I was explaining the way oxygen is transported through our bodies and in the process did a little language mixing without even thinking, thus communicating to the girls that when our blood carries oxygen to our cells… it kills us!
Language mistake number 3,498,013… check!