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Southsea, England

Lost in pronunciation

by Lukas Angerer

Being new in a place always confronts you with a great variety of obstacles, which you have to overcome.

empshott road

The impact of such obstacles seems to be ten times bigger, when you are in a different country. There, even the smallest flaws can put yourself in a place or situation you’d never expected yourself to be in. This literally happened to me and my housemates when we ordered a cab from a nightclub to our new home in the second week after our arrival in Southsea, England.

“Empshott Road”, we told the driver, “Get us off at Empshott Road.” – or at least that’s what we thought we had told him. The ride took longer than usually. The price was higher than usually. Instead of paying £ 5 we had to pay £ 8 on that night. However, the alcohol in our blood vanished any suspicious thoughts or concerns about these matters. We weren’t even irritated when we got off the cab in our supposed street. It looked the same as always. This was not really surprising though, since – due to the overall architectural simplicity of Victorian houses – every street looks the same in this town. Yet something was different.

On that night our house wasn’t at the place we’re it was supposed to be. First we thought, maybe the driver didn’t stop directly in front of it but some houses before, so we walked a while. Nonetheless, this feeling, that something was different tonight, didn’t go away. Finally we reached the end of the street and we realised what was wrong: it was not Empshott Road we got off, but Emsworth Road. That was definitely not where we parked our car…We had no idea where we were. What would happen next? In our alcohol-soaked minds we were already imagining the most dreadful scenarios. Fortunately one of us had a convenient device with us; no, not a compass, but a smartphone. Google maps told us our location: 2,5 miles away from home. This meant that the cab driver took us even farer away from our home than the night club was. Apparently he misunderstood our vague pronunciation of “Empshott Road”. Perhaps for him our foreign babbling sounded more like “Emmshae Road” which he associated with “Emsworth Road”. Finally we called another cab from Emsworth Road back to our real home.

emsworth road1

This little incident brought to my mind that even the smallest errors such as a slightly wrong pronunciation can cause unforeseen consequences. However, one learns from his or her mistakes. From now on we always tell the cab drivers that we live in Empshott Road, SOUTHSEA.