I picked up a bubbly and very entertaining Filipino lady, who had been living in England for 3 months, working as a carer for the elderly.
We talked about her experience of England, and what a powerful learning curve it is to live and work in a country which has a different first language to your own native tongue.
Her English was good, and I remarked upon it.
“Oh, I am learning,” she replied modestly. “English has many difficult words.”
“Such as…?” I prompted her gently.
“Wobbly!” she enunciated carefully. “One day, one of my colleagues told me that one of our elderly ladies was feeling a bit ‘wobbly’ and I didn’t understand what she meant.”
I laughed, enjoying how she pronounced “wobbly” in her lovely accent. We discussed different contexts in which the word could be used.
Then, she said, “Sometimes I get things wrong, and I make my colleagues laugh a lot.”
“Go on,” I smiled.
“Yes,” she continued. “The other day, a lady at our home had a bad chest. She had a lot of congestion. My colleague said to me, “She might need a good cough”.”
“Ok,” I said, wondering where this might lead.
“But I misheard her,” said my lovely passenger, with a rueful smile.
“I was SHOCKED! I said to her, ‘What? WHAT?? She needs a good COCK?’!!”