Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

So today I asked my kiwi boss if tomorrow (Hawkes Bay Anniversary Day) was a bank holiday, and he replied that it wasn't but that Monday will be a public holiday, because it's Labour Day, which he reckoned probably meant that it was "Workers' Day".

He then asked me why I call them "bank" holidays, and whether this was because the banks are shut. I replied that I had no idea, but that as a kid I had always presumed that that was the reason.

Then I paused, recalling one of Herschel’s recent comedy acts regarding the whacky old English language…


Should we trust the bureau de change with our money? They're offering to trade your US dollars for pound sterling, your Euros into rupees, but they can't seem to make the simple translation of the shop's name.

Bureau de change. De? De?! Hello?! We have an English word for "de". It's "of". Bureau of change. Was that so hard?

And, in fairness, bureau's kind of a French word anyway. It's been inserted, piecemeal, into the English language, but it's not, strictly speaking an English word. In context, it's really "office" is the word that they're looking for. Office of change.

... Which kind of sounds backwards, because this isn't how you construct phrases in English unless you're Yoda the Jedi Master. How does everyone feel about "Change Office"? Would that really cover it?

I'm comfortable with that. Next time I'm in a bureau de change and they ask what I'd like to change I'm going to begin with their shop sign.

I had an opportunity here. If I could successfully recite all of that while the subject was still fresh, then my kiwi boss would probably laugh and I would be elevated in his esteem so much, that I might even get promoted. So seizing the moment, I went for it…

I said "You know what I don't get? Why they call places where you change money 'Bureau de changes.'" I mean what's with the 'de'? It's French - it means 'of,' and 'bureau' means 'office.' So it's an 'office of change,' which is backwards, they should really call it the 'change office.'"

Then I drew my breath for the final line: "Next time I go into a bureau de change and they ask me what I want to change, I'm going to start with their name."

Kiwi boss looked bored and replied "Yes, we don't call them that here."


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