occupée.

I love studying language, but it’s a lot of work.  Not just because you have to memorize and practice and repeat word upon word, though.  It’s a lot of work because each language – and each dialect of that language – requires learning the culture, too.  Sometimes it’s things like realizing, in French, it never rains cats and dogs but “Il pleut comme vache (cow) qui pisse”.  Other times, it’s things like realizing why Potawatomi Podawadomie Padwadadadada… or Ojibwe Ojibway Ojibjakwejralsjkdfasd… haha… why they’re spelled a million different ways, and none are incorrect.  Well, native languages were oral so it’s all phonetic.  (In Ojibwe and Potawatomi, for example, there are even two “methods” for written language – a single and a double vowel spelling.)

This past week, as I will be earning (or “winning” – gagne, in French) overtime money on a holiday week, I’m finding myself not only ridiculously overworked but also overlooked.  It’s like everyone forgets they sent me six emails between midnight and 5am with a stack of work to do the next day.  They’ll ask, “Can you do this or are you busy?”

Well, define busy.

It usually comes down to who is “less busy”.

So I was thinking about “busy” – I mean, what is busy?  And I’ve decided, in American English at least, it is a highly cultural word.  Working Americans are always “busy” – sometimes way more than European or Australian counterparts.  Overworked.  Never stopping.  As fast as replying as the Internet connection.

But in French, one would ask me, «Est-ce que vous êtes occupée ?» which literally means Are you occupied?  There is no “busy”, per se.

Cultural context, for sure.  In France, I would say that I’m occupied, surely, but in America, I might say I’m working on something – but that’s not busy enough and so here’s ten more assignments.  Of course, I’m not saying the French don’t respond the same way or take on more work.  It’s undeniable that their work culture is less stressful, as nearly every country in the world compared to America,… I just find the difference in words amusing.

Also, the word for a lawyer is avocat – the same word for avocado, hehehe.  In trouble?  Better get yourself a good avocado and go on into court.

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