For language nerds only: hats off to the guy on reception at the Travellers’ Hostel in Prague. A girl came to the desk yesterday and said ‘Excuse me, I don’t have a phone’. He of course gave her a hairdryer, as I would have done. She smiled, said thank you, and went off to dry her hair. Both he and I both parsed the sentence as English except for its most salient word, but I think that’s pretty astounding if you’re Czech listening to an Italian speaking English.
Confused? Fön (borrowed from the name of the warm Föhn wind, minus the ‘h’) was trademarked by the manufacturer Sanitas in Berlin, later taken over, trademark and all, by AEG, and is now a household word for hairdryer in German and several other languages including Italian (fon) and Czech (fén). I’m trying to imagine how well this request would have been understood in the UK. It’s a terrifying thought.