Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Another rainy day in Paris. Outside, the Workers and Those Concerned are probably striking again. I wouldn't know, though: I've been sitting in the boss's office since 8AM, watching him juggle his cell phone and fixed line. He has brought me in to dicuss new strategies for our Communication Department. We had only been speaking for about 5 minutes when his phones started ringing. But he didn't want me to leave, and instead asked me to wait. I think he wanted to show off his own pro English skills to me, the American.

In fact, his English is quite good, with an impressive command of expressions and verb lists. It is, however, characteristic of the "International English" that sounds so bizarre to my American ears:

"You like that plan then? Why don't you champion it at the next meeting? I'd be happy to back you up on this but I don't think I'm the one to champion it. I think Paul X is the other one you could ask to champion this. Perhaps you could champion it together."

Champion--does that refer to who will spearhead some sort of campaign or work group? Does it ask who agrees with it? Surely this word must come from the consulting world...

After deciding who will "champion" this plan or that, Big Boss Man gets off both phones, and then turns to me. He is out of time, but thinks we have had a productive meeting. Will I have a problem implementing the strategy, he asks. I ask him whether he would like more focus to be put on our G7 and G10 committees. (We are an international organization and we think we are very important. And in fact, we may well be, but we are still at least a good few steps shy of God or, say, the U.N. Nevertheless, we give all of our international committees names that would suggest that they are deciding Very Important Things.)

Xziela, Boss Man's English-speaking assistant interrupts us with a call on Boss Man's speakerphone:

"Do you want me to order you a vegetarian meal for the flight to Korea? You're flying Air France this time. You didn't like their vegetarian meal the last time you flew with them."

"Yes, but I will champion the vegetarian meal anyway. Thank you Xziela."

Good lord.

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