Language Smanguage.

Right now, I’m not going to lie, I’m sunning myself on a beach in Florida with my handsome hubby, probably in the exact place we got married for the first time a year ago on our mini moon! But I didn’t want to leave you guys with nothing to read at all, so here’s a little piece I wrote about the language barriers expats in America may face! Have a read and let me know what you think. I promise that wedding post will be on it’s way once I get back!

Language Smanguage.
Living in America is fab – people here speak the same language as us Brits! Yay! Or so you would think! Sometimes it’s like I speak a foreign language and I’m met with a blank face when asking a question!

Obviously, these are the differences between American and British English – we’re effectively divided by one language, and despite my best efforts to try to adjust to these differences it seems there are some things I simply cannot get my head around!

So, I thought I’d give you a selection of the ones that are causing me the most trouble so far:

Cinema/movie theater:
Back in the UK we call the movie theater the cinema. It’s something I’ve done for such a long time my little head does not want to change it to the American version! We’ve been a few times lately (more than ever before to be honest! We were always pretty pants with seeing films!) and I’m always blurting out cinema and then quickly correcting myself with movies straight after! It’s blummin tough! See, even on Twitter I can’t get it right:

Useless. (That is the best cinema ever though! If you’re ever in Atlanta and wanting to go to the movies then the AMC at Phipps Plaza is the place to go! You’ll see why! You can thank me later!)

Rubbish/Trash/Garbage
When we first came over to the States I asked the lovely man at the hotel reception desk if he had a rubbish bin for the bags I’d amassed from my shopping trip. He looked at me with a blank face until I went on to ask for a trash can! His face soon lit up, of course madam! Lesson learnt.

Porridge/Oatmeal
In the UK we have porridge for breakfast. I can now imagine a lot of blank American faces reading this, kind of like the puzzled expression I got from my friend when I told her I’d had porridge for breakfast before the gym. I soon realised my error and said oatmeal, soon everything was right with the world and we were on the same page! However, I’m sure if I was in the same situation again I’d opt for saying porridge!

Chips/Fries
Now this one can cause some serious problems if you don’t get it right! Thankfully, I think I’ve cracked this one, probably because food is involved! In the UK chips to us look like this:

Language 1
Seen here complete with some battered fish and mushy peas! Just how they should be! However, if I ordered chips with my ribs or burger over here I’d be presented with a packet of crisps, as the German’s boss found out when he ordered his favourite meal of ribs, coleslaw and chips! He was sorely disappointed when a packet of crisps (chips to the Americans reading this!) arrived and not some deep-fried, fluffy potato goodness!!

supermarket/grocery store
As much as I try to say I’m going to the grocery store the words just won’t come out! Also, they seem a little weird! It will always be a supermarket to me! Sorry American friends, I am trying my best to integrate with you guys but that one is just not working! I did, however, get very excited when I first came out of a supermarket with one of those brown paper bags you see in the movies! I’ve always wanted on of those! It’s the little things!

Trousers/Pants
OK, so this one is really tricky. In the UK, when we say pants we mean our underwear. Here in the States the word pants means trousers, and the word for underwear (well at least for women!) is panties. I simply cannot say the word panties. I think it my be my in-built British nature because panties just does not roll off my tongue. Pants are underwear and trousers are pants. I even feel wrong walking into Victoria’s Secret and asking about panties!! And that’s the shop where panties rule! I just can’t do it – to me it sounds wrong! I’m British, we seem to have some sort of trait that stops us talking about things like this and I don’t think that will be changing anytime soon!

There are some American words that I have adopted though – I now say cell phone instead of mobile (unless I’m back in the UK!) and I’ve obviously taken on board the fries/chips changes (I definitely don’t want the disappointment of a bag of crisps with my dinner!) but there are also a lot more that I’m sure my British brain will not get used to! I’ll keep you informed!!

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8 thoughts on “Language Smanguage.

  1. Oh those AMC chairs are amazing, the husband has to drag me out of them every time. Me and the husband are pretty multilingual with each other and the in laws are coming to know the words I mean when I say them. Finally lol.

    • Aren’t they just?! I’m surprised I haven’t fallen to sleep in one of them yet, falling to sleep in the cinema seems to be my forte! Good work on gettin everyone to work out what you mean…I’m still working on that one!

  2. AHHH! The Phipps Plaza seats are AMAZING. The best, most plush seats ever. I could honestly live in there forever and die a happy woman. People kept telling me to go and that it was so much better than Brookhaven’s Cine Bistro and I thought it was pish posh. Boy was I wrong. BEST MOVIE THEATER IN ATLANTA. Maybe anywhere. I could talk about it for days. Can you tell? Haha.

    I just discovered your blog (love it) and love finding fellow Atlantans in the blogosphere 🙂
    -GIllian

    • I seriously don’t know why we didn’t discover this movie theater before – just amazing!! We definitely won’t be visiting any others – I think I would feel cheated without those seats!!

      Welcome along to the blog – glad you’re liking it so far! It’s always nice to find other locals in blog land!

  3. This made me chuckle, because I teach English in Spain (where they learn British English), so with the younger ones I try to use the British terms, but it’s just so difficult to call the movie theater the cinema or use torch for flashlight 🙂

    • I love that you have the same problems as me but the other way around. After speaking British English for so long it’s hard to change to American English, I’m sure it’s exactly the same for you. It just doesn’t sound right! 🙂

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