Saturday, May 5, 2012

That's so...nice

I graduated from college with a degree in English. I spent four years of my life writing countless essays and completing assignments in vivid detail. Remember the golden rule: show, don't tell! I happen to like the English language very much.

Now that I have lived in a place where English is not the first language, I have noticed that some of my own English skills are in jeopardy. Let me explain one.

When you hear the word nice, what do you think of? Prior to living in AmSam, I used the word to describe people who went out of their way to do something for me. "You are such a nice person." "Thank you for doing that for me - that was nice of you." Normal. 

Now, I live in a place where the word nice is not used to describe people. Instead, it is used in situations like this.

In comparing two types of chocolate cookies (where the adjectives gooey, chocolatey, and melty could be used) my students describe the cookies as nice.

"How was your weekend?"
"Oh, it was nice."

"Did you take your Science test?"
"Well, did you do okay?"
"Yes, it was nice."


The word nice is probably the most used adjective on this entire island and it is never used to describe the goodness of people. This used to eat me up during my first few months of teaching. I regret to inform you that now, I have given in.

I use the word nice in all the wrong places. I describe meals as nice, I said that my birthday was nice. I will honestly say that I am not doing it on purpose. I picked it up from all my students and fellow teachers and now I say it without even realizing it. Sometimes I realize it and just shake my head. The funny thing is, everyone understands what you mean if you describe something as being nice.

Only in American Samoa.


mom said...

Da bomb, groovy, awesome, and sweet! Nice too, shall pass.

Bo said...

Very "nice" blog...Bo