Do You Speak English?

We All Swear
Moose has a strong tail. Not quite prehensile, but close. The other morning he was, as always, underfoot and slapped his tail excitedly as San Geraldo bent down to serve the two bowls of dry food to Moose and brother Dudo. Moose’s tail slapped the plastic dish mid-air. The dish went flying. Dry food all over the floor. San Geraldo snapped at him, “Well, shit, Moose,” and then quickly apologized.

“I’m sorry I sweared at you, Moose, but you have to be more careful.”


“Sweared?” I queried.

“Yes,” he said.

“You mean ‘swore,’ ” I commented.

“What? No.” And then he went on to parse the verb. “I swear. You swear. He/she swears. They swear,” and after a pause he smiled and continued, “We all sweared.”

I laughed and said, “I’m pretty sure the past-tense is ‘swore.’ “

“Well, I’m sure ‘sweared’ is also correct,” he said with a bit less conviction.

“Why don’t you go look it up,” was my response.

“No need,” he muttered.  “Swore? Really?


Basic Anatomy
When San Geraldo and I had our hotel in Palm Springs (and before we went broke), we were horsing around and I accidentally jabbed him (very lightly) with my fist.

“Ow!” he yowled. “You nearly punched me right in the larnyx!”

“The what?”

“The larnyx,” he repeated, pointing at his neck.

I said, “You mean larynx.”

“What?!!” he snapped.

“The larynx,” I repeated.

“You’re forgetting the ‘n,’ ” he commented.

“No, I’m just putting it in the right place. It comes after the ‘y,’ not before.”

“That’s ridiculous,” he said as he headed to the office for the dictionary.

He stood before me smugly as he scanned the pages.

“Here,” he announced after checking for himself. “Ha! LarNYX! L-A-R-N-Y-X. LarNYX.” He slapped the book closed.

“Give me that,” I insisted.

He laughed and sputtered, “OK. You were right! But I always thought it was a lar-NYX. Maybe that’s how we say it in South Dakota.”

A few months later, we were at Linda and Tom’s in South Dakota. Uncle Roger was there. San Geraldo grew up idolizing Roger. He was more like a big brother than an uncle. He had learned a lot from him, including many “South Dakota-isms.”

“Roger,” he said while pointing to his throat, “What’s this called?”

Roger looked a bit perplexed and responded, “A wattle?”


Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

27 thoughts on “Do You Speak English?”

  1. I swear, my wattle jiggled up and down on my larnyx… ummmm… larynx…. while reading this… laughing… Then I got to the final photo and damned near choked…

  2. Oh, dear heavens. I feel like we should all just give San Geraldo, and you, a big hug, and chuckle our ways through the rest of the day, after that little set of stories 🙂

  3. Hilarious! Ask San Geraldo how he pronounces nuclear…It's not wrong if everyone around you pronounces it that way, right?

  4. Wiping my eyes and mopping up tea here. Particularly love the photo of an affronted Moose. I had a dog with a prehensile tail long ago, his speciality was sweeping the coffee table free of of the coffee things when I had guests he was pleased to see. He got sweared at sometimes, too, I fear.

    1. Judith:
      I'm so sorry. You seem to always be mopping up tea. We had a cat years ago who's tail was amazingly wiry. Every morning at the hotel, he would walk out onto the patio, walk under an aluminum chair, catch his vertical and hook-ended tail on the strapping of the chair, drag the chair a few inches on the patio, and then run back into the office in terror. Every day for two years!

  5. Thanks for that hysterical story – I needed a laugh today (always do on July 1st – at least until I retire)!

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