A Rose by Any Other Name Would Not Smell As Sweet

This potential client had found me on Proz. He was looking for an interpreter – too bad I don’t do interpreting. Just someone who would keep his pregnant wife company, really, for a few days, and assist her in the shops, while he was out attending A Serious Business Conference. He wanted to get my rates to make a transfer straight away. Too bad it sounded like a familiar scam (“Oh, I’ve transferred too much money accidentally, can you transfer me the difference back? The funds will show on your account in a few days, I promise”). The gentleman introduced himself by one name and signed his e-mail by another name. Too bad that I don’t trust people who change names so quickly, even though I fully embrace everyone’s right to reinvent themselves.

But the best bit was this: he was allegedly coming to Bruges and was looking for someone who would speak French. In Bruges. In Flanders. In a staunchly chauvinistic region, where people have fought for decades to gain respect for their language: Dutch. If he and his wife were real persons and if they did come to Bruges to speak French, I do not know what would have happened to them. Flemish shopkeepers sometimes speak a bit of French because they care about business, but some French-speaking people have reported being deliberately ignored.

Too bad he did not know about Belgium’s dual identity, even though its troubles had just made it into international news.

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