Tuesday, July 5

Those Cheeky Brits

Mind the Gap
As you celebrated America's independence from England yesterday, I was putting together this post about one of my favorite parts of English culture - the language!

I love words. I love rhyming, puns, nic names, banter, slang. I love all of it. So imagine my delight when I befriended a few English birds, ahem, I mean proper English ladies. Our language differences weren't initially obvious. But after listening closely and long enough I sure did get an earful.
fancy dress = costume (like Americans would wear on Halloween)
Trainers=sneakers or tennis shoes
Swimming costume = bathing suit
knackered = hung over
pissed = drunk
shattered = exhausted
Dodgy (one of my personal favs) = can't be trusted
Gutted = utterly disappointed
jumper = sweatshirt or pullover
And the exclamations??!! Crikey! Blimey!! Brilliant! Lovely. Well Done.
yes, but where is the exit?
Thanks to The Inbetweeners I've also been schooled in all the naughty English words and expressions. This one cracks me up every time.

I could go on and on and on. Even after 2.5 years of friendship our discussion of the language differences between American English and English English never grows old. Never!! Now we're sort of passed the obvious words and have moved on to subtle expressions.

For example, Americans will give you a ride but the English will give you a lift. Go out for dinner? The American will tell you the food was great the English will say the food was nice. Did your child misbehave? The English will tell him off. Americans would never tell off a child, only a cheating boyfriend or soon-to-be ex boss. Americans dig in to a meal. The English tuck in.
The result of this constant analysis is that I'm always painfully aware of my word choice when I'm in mixed company. Can't say pants when I mean trousers as pants to the English means underpants. Can't excuse myself to the bathroom, must nip to the loo or use the toilet. And these characteristic American words- Awesome! Neat. Cool. Good job. Our American English keeps us optimistic and enthusiastic.
don't yield
The American moms find it so cute when our children pick up little English words or start speaking with an English canter. However, the American accent holds no appeal to the English. They describe our accent as having a twang. Me? A Pacific NW coast girl with virtually no detectable American accent has a twang? Hmph. Pure rubbish I tell ya.

I would have never guessed that I'd move to Luxembourg only to learn about the English culture and dialect. But you know what? I'm sooo very glad I did!

Do you fancy reading up on this topic? This is the perfect reference book.


Have any more favorite Trader Joe's items? Take a minute to leave a comment. Also found this post on Chowhound.


jojoebi said...

being a Brit this post made me laugh! I often have to change my Brit English to US English because many of my friends here are North American or studied American English at school. One term I will NEVER use is 'fanny pack' it is just so, erm rude!

One of my friends here is from Liverpool so when we have quaffed a few beers we drop back into our accents and no one else can understand us, especially him since he has quite a strong accent.

likeschocolate said...

Let me tell you that I have unknowingly gotten myself into trouble over the difference in languages. For example, you can't say I am hot in German because it means you are horney. The same goes for I am cold which translates too I am frigid. How much longer before you move back to Seattle?

This Girl loves to Talk said...

oh you nearly perfectly described australians!! I'd say we are a wee bit cheekier than the brits though ;)

I am in a mothers group of nearly all expat americans, so all these sayings have come up a time or two!!

Anonymous said...

So, Katy, who told you 'knackered' meant 'hung over'? It means 'exhausted', but not necessarily because or drink. Reminds me of the English 'pissed' which always means drunk, never 'fed up'. FYI, both words (a little) offensive, so shouldn't be used in polite company....so you can use them with us!

Love your the photos showing examples of the British English language.


Anonymous said...

Have you ever noticed how the villain in adult and children's movies is often with a British accent?!
Doesn't it make the villain just that more foreboding?
I always wished my kids could grow up in England JUST for the accent!.....
Providing they're well-behaved don't children with British accents just naturally come across as more charming? It is terrible, really!
Thanks for blogging!

poppyart said...

the inbetweeners is such a gem. great to read your post. (an australian in the Uk)

Jennifer said...

Oh Katy, you know how much I love this post. Next year, who am I going to exchange amused glances with when our British friends use funny words?

YoAli! said...

K - I loved this post! It cracked my ass up! What about the "boot" of the car...that's one I always forget about. My friends daughter came home from school and kept talking about a "pen-inn-sue-la" I couldn't figure out what she meant until she said "you know a piece of land surrounded by water" ohhhh I get it a peninsula. Sometimes its about the wrong emphasis on the wrong syl-la-bul. Love you xo S

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