Monday, July 27, 2015

I've Heard it Both Ways

One of the things we were counseled to remember when we were preparing to move to England was to be aware of how different the country was from America even though we share a common language...or do we?

If you've read the Harry Potter books or watched any amount of BBC television in your life, you're aware of differences in American and British English.  You might know, for instance, that the trunk of the car is called the boot and a bathroom might be referred to as the loo.  The differences in language and usage (not to mention spelling!) are broader than you might think and can often cause some confusion.  After almost nine months of living in England here's a little of what we've learned. 

One of the first things we learned was that lemonade more often refers to a lemon-lime fizzy drink like Sprite or 7-Up.  Also, the phrase "fizzy drink" isn't one you hear much in the States.  They don't watch movies but do watch films, and they wouldn't see them in the movie theater but the cinema instead.  Pants are underwear, and what you mean to say is trousers.  You don't wear sweaters with them, but when it's cold you will put on a jumperTylenol is Calpol, and you better get quick at converting Fahrenheit to Celsius, though sometimes I hear people call it Centigrade.

When you want to save some energy you take the lift, not the elevator, and if you gain any weight doing that you might measure it in stones instead of pounds.  People in Yorkshire don't usually have dinner or supper, but you might be invited for tea.  If you're having Fish n' Chips, of course you know you're eating fries, and instead of take-out, you might get take-away.  You take holidays instead of vacations, and instead of going-away parties, you have a leaving party.  And for some reason the lunch served at school is called a school dinner.

Around here you don't have lots of things but loadsRain boots are always wellies, and you usually walk up a path instead of hike up a trail.  If you get hurt you'll need a plaster so don't ask for a Band-Aid.

Instead of being sick, you usually feel poorly because being sick means you threw up.  Instead of having a fever you have a temperature, and you don't pass gas, but you might be windy.  If you are feeling poorly you might spend the day in your dressing gown instead of your robe.

When you feel better and need to do the shopping you go to the supermarket instead of the grocery store, and you'll buy crisps and biscuits instead of chips and cookies.  The biscuits will be for your pudding, not your dessert.  If you take your car don't forget to use your indicators (no blinkers here!), and whatever you do don't forget your handbag with your purse in it instead of your purse with your wallet inside.

Speaking of cars, you don't put gas in at the gas station, but you fill up with petrol at the garage.  Your muffler is called a silencer.  Is this confusing yet?

Lots of people walk on the pavement to the shops, not the sidewalk to the store.  They might wear their trainers, what we call tennishoes, while their kids cycle on bikes with stabilisers, and American kids ride bikes using their training wheels.  Kids in England will beg for sweeties while their counterparts in America just want to eat candy.  Oh, and they'll call you mummy instead of mommy.

When it's time to work outside the English use strimmers in the garden, while back home we used weedeaters in the yard.  Your kids might want to have a go, by which they mean take a turn.  And each week you'll need to put your rubbish in the bin bag instead of your trash in the trash can.

Little boys wear braces instead of suspenders, and girls wear their hair in plaits, not braidsOveralls are dungarees, and you go to the sea, not the beach, and Smarties aren't sour but kind of like M&Ms.  If you don't understand someone you say, "Pardon?" instead of, "Excuse me," and probably the most important word in all of the British English language, is PLEASE.

P.S.  I'll probably remember a lot more of things we call by different names as soon as I hit publish on this post.  Maybe next time we'll talk about the exciting world of PRONUNCIATION.

P.P.S.  Courgettes are zucchiniCoriander is cilantro.

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