Language Smanguage. Volume 2.

Language Smanguage.
Speaking British English can often lead to some mis-understandings when you’re living in the States. We may speak the same language but our slightly different words and pronunciations can leave people with blank faces.Let’s face it, we’re divided by a common language.

There are some words that, despite constantly trying, I just can’t get my head around. I often stumble over them and correct myself the second after the word has fallen out of my mouth. Want to know the latest words that are causing me some problems? Here goes:

1. Pavement/Sidewalk
Back in the UK, the part of the street you walk on next to the road is called a pavement, always has been, always will be. Now though, I have to switch to it being a sidewalk and I cannot get my head around it! It’s tough when you’ve been using the same word for 30 years! This one caused me a problem just the other night.We went to an event but got there before the road was closed and people were struggling to pass each other on the pavement. I described this to my friend who arrived a little later and she looked at me with a blank face and the words ‘what’s a pavement?’ I quickly answered with ‘oh, sidewalk, I mean sidewalk!’

2. Trolley/Cart
We’ve all done it, we head to the supermarket and pick up a trolley to put our groceries in, or as they’re called in America, a cart. I actually think the American word is better in this situation, I mean, a cart seems to describe the aim of the device better than a trolley, right? But, my brain is so used to the word trolley that I can’t seem to change it. A shopping trolley will always be a shopping trolley to me!

3. Petrol/Gas
In the UK, we fill our cars up with petrol, here in the US they fill their cars up with gas. It’s the same stuff, just with a different name and a word that I struggle with. 18 months in and I’m attempting to get the hang of going to the gas station instead of the petrol station and I do often use gas instead of petrol but I still struggle and the word doesn’t come out of my mouth as easily as petrol does. I also want to put on a dodgy American accent when I say it too which definitely does not work! There’s also the fact that I’m putting petroleum into my car so surely petrol is a more logical word to use?

4. Tomato/Tomato
This is more a pronunciation thing, you know the song, right? To-may-to, to-mar-to? Well, this is definitely a difficult one for my British brain and mouth to deal with. I often order a to-mar-to and basil soup and go on to correct myself and say to-may-to straight after! Most of the time I’m met with a ‘I understood you the first time’ answer or look, which kind of makes me feel like I shouldn’t try to fit in because I’m insulting people, others go on to ask me where I’m from and give me the ‘I love your accent!’ reply.

5. Holiday/Vacation
In the UK, we go on holiday. In the US, they go on vacation. I still go on holiday and have the German correcting me, saying we’re going on vacation. It’s hard when you’ve used the same words for so long! The ‘Where are you going on holiday?’ question in the hairdressers just doesn’t cut it in America.

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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!!