Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Using Slang for ESL Speakers in Court

I've had a recent experience as a juror in a courtroom. I happen to live in an extremely diverse area of the U.S. People from all over the world make their homes here. And even though some ESL speakers may have even gone through college here, there is still some vocabulary, especially slang or idioms, that they may not know.

Native English speakers are often not conscious about what vocabulary may be unfamiliar to ESL speakers.

The judge in my courtroom gave a very long lecture (one hour) about the court procedures. When an ESL speaker was in the jury box being asked questions by the judge, she said that she was concerned that she may not be familiar with some terms. The judge told her that if she did not understand something, she should speak up. "This is no time to be a wallflower," he said.

It stuck me that the word "wallflower" is not something commonly taught to English Language Learners. I wonder if the juror knew what the judge meant. I'm sure she got it from the context, but if I were the judge, I probably wouldn't have said "wallflower."


1 comment:

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