Talking to Nela in Cambridge
I was back in my hometown of Cambridge U.K. at the beginning of this month, just for 6 days. However, during those six days I spoke to people from nine different countries; most of them working in England.
I met people from Germany, Spain, Macedonia, Cyprus, India, the USA, Pakistan, Poland and Croatia. As a teacher of English, I tend to pay particular attention to the way people speak English, to the type of accents they have when speaking English. From a person’s accent, his/her appearance and other clues, it is like a quiz for me to guess where in the world that person grew up and learnt his/her first language (L1). For example, when I was in a café in Cambridge (http://www.patisserie-valerie.co.uk/cambridge.aspx) with my father and my sister and her family we were served by a friendly, confident and quick waitress with a foreign (non-native English speaker) accent. She had the name “Nela” on her name badge. She looked southern European and had jet black hair and thick black eyebrows. When she came over to serve us for the third time, I said to her, “Nela, are you Spanish or Brazilian?” To which she replied, “Actually I am Croatian.”
This illustrates how cosmopolitan Cambridge has become, not only are there students from all over the world studying at Cambridge but there are also workers from all over the world (and particularly from the Eastern European members of the European Union) in Cambridge. Many of Nela’s customers are not English but come from various other countries so you could say my hometown is now an example of a global village with communication in the global language, English.