Op ed

Sorry, but Do You Speak English?

 Not long ago, an American friend was driving rather too vigorously in the west of Ireland when he was pulled over by a Gard (police officer). "What would happen if you were to run into Mr. Fog?" the Gard inquired gruffly in his thick Irish brogue. Stung by this patronizing query, my friend replied with heavy sarcasm, "Well, I guess I'd put Mr. Foot on Mr. Brake." Whereupon the officer stared at him rather strangely and growled, "I said mist or fog."

My friend, as it happens, is an anthropologist. For one enthralling moment he thought he had stumbled upon …

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