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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Has living in Qatar affected the way you talk?


Almost every expat can attest to it – living in Qatar changes our speech patterns.

It makes sense. In this melting pot of a country, English may be the lingua franca, but it is not the native language of most of the people speaking it. 

Canadian Jessica Davey-Quantick touched upon the issue in this month’s Time Out Doha, wondering how she suddenly started using the word “mobile” instead of “cell phone,” and “handbag” instead of “purse:”

I speak more slowly now too, and I’ve even developed that odd pidgin English hybrid that expats slip into when speaking to a taxi driver for ‘clarity’ which mostly makes us sound like idiots. But I hadn’t thought the actual tenor of my speech had changed…

Since moving overseas, I’ve found myself becoming more militantly Canadian. When one of the first questions people ask you is ‘where are you from?’, it suddenly starts to matter a whole lot more. The occasional bouts of homesickness make you long for the weirdest parts of your home country – whether it’s my flatmates coveting cans of mushy peas or me eagerly awaiting the opening of Tim Horton’s in Dubai, we all have those things that are basically meaningless, until you’re far away from them…

But it shouldn’t matter, right? 

What do you guys think? Have you found yourself tweaking your English to make life here run a little more smoothly? If so, how intertwined are our identities with the languages we speak?

Image courtesy of Carla Arena.

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