Divided by a common language

This item appears on page 57 of the June 2011 issue.

Tell ITN about the funniest thing that ever happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the United States.) There are no restrictions on length. The ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged.

This month’s winner is SHEILA MONK of Richland, MO:

I spent 10 delightful days in a small village just north of Edinburgh with my friend Caroline, meeting her friends and family and touring the area. Their brogue was thick but, with intent listening, understandable.

The difficulty I encountered was that even when I understood every word, I was often mystified due to their strongly idiomatic use of English. So while I enjoyed my visit and was loath to leave, I boarded a southbound train saying to myself, ‘Well, at least, in London I will find people easier to understand.’

I checked in at my small hotel and asked the clerk a simple question about money. I was stunned when he looked at me blankly and said, “I didn’t understand a word you said.”