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    Guaranteed To Shut Anyone Up

    | San Antonio, TX, USA | Bad Behavior, Language & Words, Top

    (I am an EFL teacher and self-published writer. I am an English major and in several classes focusing on the history and structure of the English language. I am paying my way by working at a call center. I get a caller who sounds reasonably educated.)

    Caller: “I want you to tell me if there is a guarantee on this product.”

    Me: “I know, sir, but to cont—”

    Caller: “Tell me about the guarantee before we get anywhere else.”

    Me: “I’ve given you the information on my sidebar, sir. To get further details I need to advance the screen so can you just give me your name—”

    Caller: “Just tell me about the guarantee! Guarantee: Latin for get your money back!”

    Me: “Latinate.”

    Caller: “Pardon me?”

    Me: “It’s Latinate, not Latin. We acquired it from the French. Probably Parisian French but I’m not sure in that. Warranty actually comes from the same word, but Norman French has the W sound and other types of French don’t usually. Probably because the Normans were a bunch of Norse Viking types the French gave some land to in order not to be pillaged. The Normans invaded and conquered England and tried to obliterate the English language but only managed to get a bunch of words added. When the English invaded and conquered France a couple of hundred years later, they got the Parisian version of the word with the GU sound. This is why warranty has a more official and stronger meaning than guarantee.”

    Caller: “Uh…”

    Me: “Now, I have a specific script the client requires us to read about the guarantee. It is important that I read precisely the words they chose without interpretation. To get to that script, I need to process the first screen as if I am taking an order. I am not allowed to read from memory. If you choose not to order, then I just cancel it out and there is no order placed. Can I get your information now, sir?”

    Caller: *much calmer* “All right…”