Tag Archives: language

OFAH fans – please help me with cockney bingo!

Only Fools and Horses fans, I need your help!

I’m a member of the Serra Negra English club here in São Paulo, Brazil. It’s a group of people who meet every two weeks to practice their English and all the membership fees for the club go into helping local charities.

In two weeks I am hosting the club at my house. I wanted to try something linked to the use of some more unusual English words, but to make it fun. So I thought I would try a bingo game with Only Fools and Horses. I’d issue some bingo cards featuring Cockney slang words, we all watch an episode of OFAH and people check off the words as they hear them – hopefully with a winner found before the end of the show.

It will be entirely Brazilian people playing this game, trying to improve their English and learning about some of the unusual Cockney slang used by Del Boy and Rodders. Hopefully it works as a fun way to show them that not everyone speaks English like the Prince of Wales…

What I need from you is a pointer to a particular episode that might work for this game. I need the following:

  • It must be one of the early half-hour shows so the game is not too long, so I expect it will feature Grandad.
  • It must be a fairly simple story setup – I need to brief everyone on what OFAH is all about as they will have never seen the show, so a more complex relationship-based story is probably out (though most of that came later in the show anyway).
  • It must feature a lot of slang I can use for the game.

So, OFAH fans, can you help me to set this up and help a whole group of people in Brazil better understand how to speak if they are ever in Peckham? Leave a comment here on the blog or tweet me on @markhillary – thanks!

The Reliant Regal Supervan used by Delboy and Rodney Trotter

Photo by David licensed under Creative Commons

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Jobs: desperate times?

I’ve been hiring recently. Not for my company, but for a client of mine based in the USA – so it’s a US company asking my company in Brazil to help them find someone in Colombia or Mexico. The world of work has come a long way from the old paper ad in a newsagents window.

What has really interested me about this – more than any other hiring process I have been involved in – is how I have been deluged with emails and messages from people who have no experience or qualifications for the job on offer.

I have had several emails that could be described as begging letters, pleading with me to give the person a chance even though they are from an entirely different field and some of them don’t even speak Spanish – a prerequisite to work in Mexico.

It just made me think. There are an enormous number of opportunities for jobs in the fast growing Latin markets – such as Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico, but people really want more autonomy. They want to be able to balance their work and life more effectively.

I know people in São Paulo who take a couple of hours to get to work. The same again to get home. Add in 9 or 10 hours at the office and then there is no time left for anything other than sleep.

The job I am offering pays pretty well, allows for regular travel to the USA, and allows the employee to work from home, or a cafe, or wherever they choose – it’s very flexible and this seems to be something that people here are desperate to find.

Is this the same back in the UK? I’m not sure. Maybe things have changed recently? Maybe people are becoming more demanding, or maybe people just don’t waste so much of their life commuting in the UK?

Epidemia de Pánico / Panic Epidemy

Bus rides in São Paulo

Moving to a new country can be a confusing experience. It’s even more so when the country is on a different time zone, in a different continent, and the people use a completely different language. It has been quite an experience coming to Brazil.

But all these new experiences also can make small achievements feel significant.

Back home in London, I would never have considered it an achievement to go out for a meeting, and then to come home again. But drop yourself in an unfamiliar city of 20m people where very few can use English, and then try the same thing.

Yesterday I went out alone, got a bus and metro into town, went and charged up my metro card, ordered a few beers and some snacks, and managed to get two buses to come home again.

It’s simple stuff, but when I got back I felt happy that I can now feel fairly confident negotiating my way around the city and ordering some basic food and drinks and all without anyone speaking English. And with over 1,000 bus routes and no simple spider maps, São Paulo can be a challenge by bus even for the locals – you just have to learn which buses go where because there is no information at the bus stops.

All this makes me feel so much more enthusiastic about improving my Portuguese.

And just as I start getting more enthusiastic, my university course at PUC-SP is about to start on the 15th… will I be able to join in the football chants at Palmeiras soon?
Our carts are cleaned every day but if you prefer to use the alcohol gel

Why ban the vuvuzela?

Why is everyone on the TV and radio talking about banning the vuvuzela, the plastic trumpet played by so many South Africans at the world cup football games that the crowd takes on the noise of a swarm of bees?

Callers to BBC radio 5 live today explained how they ‘don’t like the noise’ or ask ‘why don’t the fans sing songs like we do’?

Isn’t one of the aims of the FIFA World Cup to bring together fans from all nations and cultures and to remind them all that despite their differences, they all have a shared love of the same game? English fans sing songs about the team usually based on familiar tunes, but they have the huge advantage of a single language.

South African fans are in a country where 11 languages enjoy equal status and English is only the 5th most commonly used language. How can they create puns that would be enjoyed by the entire stadium?

And moving beyond the practicalities of language, has anyone considered just how colonial this debate sounds? If South African fans love to blow these trumpets at football matches, then why not join in, rather than preaching to them how fans are supposed to behave?

I hope FIFA doesn’t ban instruments before the Brazil world cup 2014. Everyone knows how much the Brazilians love to play music at matches, so a ban just because of disgruntled Europeans upset at Africans blowing trumpets would be a disaster.

Vuvuzela