Natália, an English language teacher from Brazil, recently married Andrew, a Welshman who used to be a loss adjuster before moving to South America. Their relationship has been sprinkled with MULL photos spanning two continents. They have kindly agreed to be our first interviewees, answering questions about their involvement with the group.
How long have you been members of the MULL group?
Natália: I think I was one of the first MULLers. About a month later, I added Andrew, who was only a friend at the time. Little did I know that we would soon be mulling together.
Where do you usually take photos for the group?
Natália: Most of the photos we take now are in the city we live in of course, but I used to take advantage of frequent business trips to do some mulling on the side.
Andrew: Not to mention the honeymoon! And random bus trips I take now and then. It’s curious that as a loss adjuster, I used to travel the UK extensively, but I hadn’t yet caught the MULL bug. So most of my pics have actually been taken in Brazil, as I am picking up the language from the signs around me.
What kinds of photos do you take?
Natália: All kinds. When I traveled to the UK, puns drew my attention. They were everywhere. Here in Brazil what I like photographing is the use of English and other languages mixed with Portuguese. I find it interesting to consider the status attributed to different languages, including those that do not usually show up, such as indigenous languages.
Andrew: I photograph combinations of languages too, and things that look peculiar, such as mistranslations.
What do you use to take photos (e.g. smartphone or camera)?
Andrew: Mostly our smartphones.
Have you learnt anything about language through taking photos for MULL?
Andrew: What I learnt was to pay attention to language in a way I didn’t use to. And it’s fascinating.
Have you had any interesting experiences along the way?
Andrew: Well, we did get married.
Natália: And you moved to Brazil. So quite a few interesting experiences, but as far as Mull is concerned…
Andrew: Trying not to look shifty when you take photographs.
Natália: And ignoring the bewildered looks around you… However, what I thought was most peculiar was the conversation we had mid-honeymoon. There we were in idyllic Paraty and we wouldn’t stop taking photos for MULL. So we were discussing whether a new post would break the rule of one post a day when I remembered, “wait, YOU posted, but I didn’t.” Moral of the story: less than a week married, and MULL helped us find out that no, we are not one, but two different individuals.
Can you tell us about a memorable photo?
Andrew: “Passion juice” in a hotel in Belo Horizonte. It had me laughing maniacally before my caffeine injection regime had commenced.
Natália: “Porque toda marca cool tem de ter um slogan em inglês.” (=Because any cool brand needs to have a slogan in English) I took this photo even before MULL came to existence, but it kind of sums up much of the use of English in Brazil. People don’t seem to care whether what they write is correct. It’s the status that the language brings to the table that interests them, I think.
What do you like about the MULL group?
Andrew: The fast wit and humour of other MULLers.
Natália: And the respect MULLers show to one another when discussing controversial topics.
What do you dislike about the MULL group?
Andrew: There’s nothing to dislike…
Natália: … now, but I have to admit there was a certain someone that used to rub me the wrong way. Anytime a non-native speaker made a typo, there they were, correcting. When a native speaker of English made a mistake, this person would stay put. We even devised an experiment… I had Andrew make a mistake in a comment just after this person had corrected a fellow Brazilian MULLer. Not a peep.
Andrew: Now, now, Natália, where is the respect MULLers are supposed to show one another?
Anything else you’d like to share?
Andrew: I blog about my Brazilian experience on http://jameskirkexpat.blogspot.com.br. Before you ask, I’m not a trekkie. James is my middle name. It’s just a coincidence.
Natália: Hey, no shame in being a trekkie! And with Andrew, I’ve been learning a lot of colloquial British English, which I post on my online Vocabulary Notebook (https://www.facebook.com/vocabnotebook ) . Also, I blog about TESOL on Richmond Share. (http://www.richmondshare.com.br/author/nataliaguerreiro) In addition, MULL English language teachers might be interested in joining BRELT, the community of EFL teachers in Brazil (https://www.facebook.com/groups/brelt/) . And thank you, Damian, for the invite.
Andrew: Thanks. And we’re looking forward to the first MULL get-together: Brazil chapter.