Say “expatriot” and NOT “expat!!!” (sigh)

The other day I was reprimanded by a Russian speaking colleague about using the word “expat” incorrectly.  (*I* am an EXPAT!!!)  According to her, I should say “expatriot” instead.  I told her that I prefer saying something that I have been for almost 15 years in two syllables rather than in four.  I thanked her for helping me out in my native language of English. However, try to tell someone they should say “television” rather than t.v. or better to say “electronic mail” instead of “e-mail.” To me, to say the full extension of a commonly used term is absurd.  I have had many expat friends among American, British, Australian, Canadian and New Zealanders when I lived in Philippines, China, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and finally our most recent stint in Kazakhstan. ExPAT, EXpat, expat!!!  Check out dictionary.com definition of the word, it is an informal term that was started by the British but Americans have managed to make it even more slangy by using the short “a” instead of the long “a.”

 

The reason I was corrected was due to a meeting we had at the Language Center last week where I got up in front of about 50-60 of my teacher colleagues and gave three suggestions that I found useful in my teaching.  The first was how to conserve on the usage of paper.  I asked for a show of hands, “How many of you e-mail your students about their assignments?”  Five or six timidly raised their hands which means only 10% do, the others are traditionalists and just count on meeting up with their students during the scheduled class or during office hours. 

 

My second suggestion was to tell them that I was purposely raising the standards of my MBA students by having my “expat friends” come to the classroom to listen to their 7 minute speeches.  I also remarked that this is good P.R. to have the expat community aware of who our soon-to-be graduates are.  Some of these expat visitors might be future employers for our graduate students.  My third point was to have guest lecturers come to the Listening classes for the students to listen to live people rather than just taped conversations all the time.  Last semester, my students’ feedback indicated they LOVED having expat guest lecturers come to visit so they could interact with them.  I could see some teachers nodding their heads in agreement.  Again, a way of building up the reputation of our university which at this point we need some good P.R.  Er, Public Relations to be clearly understood.

 

Apparently my Russian speaking colleague was just giving me “constructive” feedback that the other Kazakh teachers thought they heard me say I was bringing my “expert friends” to my speech classes.  They misheard me talking about my having an “expert community.”  Hmmm…I already know many of these teachers don’t like to write (or read), now I’m wondering about their listening comprehension skills in English.  Perhaps they need to be working on the same material they dole out to their students in the overly redundant listening and notetaking classes. In some cases, I’m wondering how their speaking is during the classes, I think there may be more Russian spoken than is healthy for a “westernized” university. I also think my teaching colleagues are way too isolated in their own clique to realize that their English may not be as good as their students.  In any case, to my ears, “expat” sounds very different from expert.  But then again, my American friends ARE experts in their particular fields of expertise.

 

So, yesterday I blogged about an expat friend of mine Brenda.  Also, I subbed yesterday afternoon for another expat friend Nancy who went on a recruiting trip to western Kazakhstan.  Then last night I had another expat friend Julia visit my speech classes again and she brought her husband Dan this time.  I wonder what these Americans would say to someone who might try to correct them that they should call themselves “expatriots?” 

 

Sigh, sometimes the snarky comments among my peers wear me down, but my lovely students build me up.  THEY are the reason I am here in Kazakhstan.

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4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    J. Otto Pohl said,

    I thought it was expatriate as in one outside one’s patria. Thus it has the same root as repatriate one sent back to their patria or homeland. Expatriot would seem to me to be somebody who is no longer patriotic and I know that is not what you meant.

  2. 2

    kazakhnomad said,

    Otto, you are right, I do NOT mean being no longer patriotic by the term expat. Quite the contrary, the longer I live away from my homeland, the more patriotic I have become. I tear up when I hear the national anthem or see the flag of red, white and blue, especially in parades. Maybe at the start of a hockey or football game. Distance makes the heart grow fonder.

    Even though I used dictionary.com definition to refer back to, they don’t even have it right. When they say the synonym is exile, that is not right because it implies that the person who has left his or her country has done so involuntarily. So. What to do, we Americans and other expats know who we are!

    noun
    a person who is voluntarily absent from home or country; “American expatriates” [syn: exile]

  3. 3

    Silly Me said,

    Excellent article, I will take note. Many thanks for the story!

  4. 4

    kazaknomad said,

    Thanks Silly Me, it was strange to be “gently” told by a non-native speaker of English what we are as foreigners and call ourselves amongst our own community, we are EXPATS. Perhaps it is because this person has a lost identity being of Russian ethnicity but born in Kazakhstan making her a Kazakhstani. I don’t know, sometimes there is no figuring out what is really meant behind the “constructive” criticism we sometimes get from our “friends” in Kazakhstan, be they Kazakh or Kazakhstani.


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