word of mouth little words

Click to follow
I see there's a drive to get more English businessmen speaking foreign languages, but I doubt if they'll bother. After all, nearly a billion people speak English and the 850 words of so-called Basic English - which can be learnt in a few days - are all you need to get by.

But the problem with English is it leans heavily on a handful of little words and, as my friend Juanita will tell you, it's the little words that break your heart.

Last week, for example, a store detective made out she was making off with some make-up. He'd made it up to make a name for himself by making a collar and accused her of being on the make. The manager made his way over and it had the makings of an ugly scene.

He quickly realised that the shop dick was in a make-believe world, but still made heavy weather of trying to make good the damage and, make no bones about it, make it up to her.

She couldn't make him out at all and the dick was making eyes at her so she made for the door before he tried to make something of it. It was terrible, she says, I would never steal, even though I'm so hard on.

No, chica, I say. Hard up. Hard on's for boys only, unless it's hard on your heels or hard on the ears or hard on the wallet. Que? she says.

Look I say, it's quite simple. You get up in the morning and get out of bed. You get on your get-up and get out and get in your car or get on the bus and get to work.

The boss who you don't get along with since he tried to get off with you and you couldn't get across that you didn't want to get down with him, gets at you for being late. But you get over it, you get through the day, you get by and with a little get up and go it gets better. Geddit?

No, hombre, she says, and I'm fed up with put-downs over mix-ups with little English words like "up" that mean nothing and do everything. I look them up, I read up on them; I write them up and write them down. The English say it's up to me to learn, but I say it's down to them, too.