Conversation overheard in a lift:
English businessman – So, what does your company do?
Polish businessman – Boring.
E – Excuse me?…
P – Boring.
E – [blank stare]
P – It is mine company.
E – Oh, I see – your own company! Ha ha! You find it boring?
P – Yes. We find much boring.
E – Well, I’m sorry to hear that. Maybe it’s time you did something else.
P – No… There is much boring in Poland.
E – Oh come on! It’s not that bad!
“Boring” is a term used in mining and mechanical engineering which means drilling or making holes. The Polish man works for a successful mining company. The Englishman doesn’t understand any of that!
I’d like to think that this isn’t a real life example but fear that it is. If it is, it says a lot about the native speaker’s (in)ability to communicate effectively with non-native speakers. I would guess that the English businessman was either monolingual or had little international experience (or both). Unsure whether to be amused or horrified! Sadly, not surprised.
It’s actually not a real life example. It derives from a variety of examples I’ve come across in both spoken and written communication as well as my increasing awareness that native English speakers need to learn how to speak with non-native speakers. After Brexit we’re going to have even less of a claim on international English.