Almost English

Posted by on May 23, 2012 | No Comments

Opera House NightYears ago I worked on a project for ING Bank in Sydney, Australia. Due to a happy coincidence I lived in a million dollar apartment for the two month duration of the gig with a systems engineer from my company. The apartment belonged to the family of the ING program manager and he made it available to us. We had an amazing view of the opera house across from us and the Sydney Harbour Bridge to our right. Frankly, it’s a place I never could have afforded on my own.

On the whole living and working in Sydney was a great experience but I did learn one thing about the residents of Australia. They speak English, almost.

We had a French Press in the apartment that we used to make our morning coffee before we caught the train or a ferry to the ING offices on Darling Harbour. One morning as I was cleaning the press I dropped it on the granite countertop and the carafe shattered.

When I reached the office I said to the program manager, “Stuart, I busted the French Press in the apartment. Where would I buy a new one?”

He looked at me as if I had started spouting Shakespearean Soliloquies. “You broke the what?”

“The French Press.”

“What’s a French Press?”

“You know. The thing in the apartment you use it to make coffee.”

He shot me a look as if he suspected I had consumed several liters of the local wine on my way into the office. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

At this point I started to pantomime the act of making coffee using a French Press. “You put the coffee in the carafe, pour in hot water, and then push down on the handle.”

As I made the motion of pushing down awareness dawned on his face. “Oh, you mean the coffee plunger.”

Now I was the one sporting the look of incredulity. “Coffee plunger? Plungers are what we use to clear plugged toilets!”

Bridge at NightBut when I stopped by a local department store in Sydney a few days later, what did I find in housewares? No French Press, but something that looked exactly like it down to the brand name of Bodum. But the label on the box read: Coffee Plunger. My first indication that in Australia they speak English, kind of.


  1. azwangster
    May 23, 2012

    We have many Canadian friends here in Phoenix (snowbirds, eh?). That’s when I first heard about the “Garbagerator.”

  2. Dennis
    May 24, 2012

    The Garbagerator? That’s a new one one me, eh.

  3. Anup
    May 24, 2012

    what the heck is a frenchpress? why is it a french press, it sounds almost rude ;-))

    • Dennis
      May 25, 2012

      Anup, It does sound rather threatening to the French. Maybe we should meet up in Paris and see what they call them there.