Cos (cos) wrote,
Cos
cos

Language negotiation at lunch

Last week, at Rami's, the Israeli falafel place in Coolidge Corner...

background: The guys who work there mostly speak fluent English and Hebrew. I'm not sure if all of them speak Hebrew because sometimes I see them talking to each other in English, so I usually approach them with English, but when I do try Hebrew (usually after hearing them talk to each other and confirming the person at the counter speaks it), they're usually delighted.

Esther, Kat, and I are sitting at a table eating. A group of three women walk in and start ordering in reasonably good but imperfect English. They're talking among themselves and ... oh, that's Arabic! One of them, however, apparently has very good Hebrew, so she starts talking to the guy behind the counter in Hebrew. He's delighted, the communication flows, and soon the other two Arab women are doing it, except their Hebrew isn't that good. Little do they know, however, that the guy behind the counter also has reasonably good Arabic... until one of the women asks the other how to say something in Hebrew (asking the question in Arabic), and the Rami's guy answers her. Now they're even more delighted, and the conversation continues in a mix of Arabic and Hebrew, full of "how do you say this?" and "where did you learn Arabic?"

I just listened in amusedly, and told Esther & Kat what was going on after we left. It made my day happier.
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