This morning I got an email from the powers-that-be here at the University about the flu vaccine being available. Near the bottom of the letter, I was amused to see an example of how a very small mistake can completely change the meaning of a sentence.
It said, "We are notable to accept cash, no exceptions."
I know it meant "not able" but that was an amusingly bad place to suddenly lose a space, as it really changed the meaning of the sentence.
English is a tough language, even for those born here (just take a look at many of the posts around Gather if you don't believe me). Last night I went into a local Chinese food takeout (well, Hunan is Chinese, right?) and after I'd gotten my shrimp egg rolls, the young girl behind the counter pulled out a book and asked me to pronounce some of the words for her.
It was an "English as a second language" book with the English word, the Chinese word under it and a picture illustrating each concept. I was in no hurry at all, and I was happy to encourage her, so I read and went over pronunciation of a whole page worth of words.
These were not easy words, and I was a little worried that they were teaching sight-reading (a notoriously bad way to learn how to read), but who am I to question the textbook? I read words like "hedge", "trowel", "flower pot", "hedge clipper", etc.
Partway through, the girl's parental unit came up and asked (in Chinese) what she was doing. I'm sure after I left mom told her not to annoy the customers. I guess I've just gotten to the point where I look like a grandma, non-threatening and willing to help. Either that or she hits up every American-looking person for a few words! Both concepts left me grinning.
(Five minute freewrite, no editing or corrections done.)