|recreation of sign from memory|
One of the greatest challenges in mastering any language is slang, acronyms and colloquialisms. Here’s one that had me stumped for weeks when I first arrived in the US (a long time ago).
Living in Hawaii at the time added another layer to the puzzle as Hawaii is such a diverse community.
I figured out the “PED” relatively quickly; it had to mean “Pedestrian” particularly since the sign was found at a crosswalk. But the “XING” had me stumped.
As I was still very literal in those days, I read it as sounding like ‘zing’ or ‘ksing’, not understanding yet how in American English words are often abbreviated or broken down into a type of short-hand, or its component parts. Nobody had explained to me the short hand for ‘crossing’ which is X-ing.
For several weeks I puzzled over ‘XING’, thinking perhaps it was some Asian word for pedestrian which was added to the sign as a courtesy to the many Asian visitors to Hawaii. Although why they would would use a word that seemed more Chinese to me when the majority of Asian tourists were from Japan made no sense.
Finally, I decided to ask someone, regardless of how of stupid it might make me seem. I chose a new colleague, who seemed genuinely willing to help this ‘stranger in paradise’, and asked her. At least she was kind enough not to laugh out loud, and I had my answer.
That moment must have been when I started to read differently and learned how to puzzle out the signs for myself, and perhaps grew a few new neural pathways.
I don’t think I’ll be using creative abbreviations in my writing though.