Let's Speak English
- Page 10 -
what you're talking about, tell them to join the Brighter English League and learn how to speak English.
Now let's talk about clothes - men's clothes, I'm afraid, not women's. If you are4 a man and you are asked out to dinner, don't say "Shall I wear ze SMOKING?" What you're referring to is called a DINNER JACKET. A SMOKING is a French misuse of the old fashioned SMOKING jacket, cut in somewhat the same way as a DINNER JACKET but usually of velvet or silk and worn only at home
in the library. For dinner parties one wears DINNER JACKET with a stiff shirt and a black tie. I wish one didn't, as a stiff shirt's undoubtedly one of the world's most uncomfortable costumes, especially in the summer heat in Palestine. It seems, however, to be essential to the Englishman even in the tropics: and he would rather lose his wife and children than be separated from his DINNER JACKET when evening comes. So if we have to have DINNER JACKETS in Palestine let's call them DINNER JACKETS and not SMOKINGS.
Now let's consider the word SICK which is often used in Palestine in the American way and not in the, English way. In English, if you are not well you say you're ILL. You can only use the word SICK in a few special cases. For example, if you're a nice, kind person (which I doubt ) you go to hospitals to visit THE SICK; that is, all those people who are lying there ILL. SICK is used here as a collective noun - THE SICK.
Or if you are in the army or the police, or even in the civil service and you want a day off, you report SICK. You all know only too well how it's done, so I won't go into that.
Or if you're on board ship in a high wind and are unwise enough to have a large meal - well, you're SICK - and we won't go into that either.
Lastly, you can use slang and say "I'm SICK and tired of my lessons". The great advantage of the lessons that I give is that, if you're SICK and tired. of them, you can always switch off your wireless. But if you don't feel well, you can't say in English you're SICK. You're ILL. Only in America can you say "I'm SICK" if you're not feeling well.
But I must warn you that if you're ILL in England it's no use your having a fancy disease - the kind of thing your cook in Tel Aviv goes to Vienna to see a specialist about. In England there are only three diseases : first, indigestion; secondly, cold in the head; and thirdly, chill on the liver: and you get the same treatment for each of them.
Another English word that's changed its meaning in Palestine is NERVOUS. In England NERVOUS means TIMID. As I'm sitting here talking to you over the wireless, ! feel NERVOUS. I might sneeze and make you deaf for life, or I might accidentally say something too awful for words. Or what's worse than anything else, I might say something I thought was funny and you didn't. So I'm just NERVOUS.
But in Palestine NERVOUS usually means EXCITABLE. A policeman will complain that his Police sergeant is NERVOUS. But if nervous means TIMID that can't be correct, because I've never yet met a sergeant who was TIMID. If he were TIMID, he wouldn't be a sergeant: but he might be - and often is -