Friday, October 4, 2013

When is rubbish not rubbish? When it's garbage (or trash for that matter)...

Sometimes when I'm speaking with my American friends I'll say something and they'll look at me rather strangely, that's when I realise that even though British and the U.S. residents both speak English, it's not necessarily the same English. As well as dropping the u's from many words, there's also lots of cultural things that don't translate when you've grown up in the U.K. and now live in L.A.

British and American flags
So even though I've adopted words like 'awesome' and will gingerly high-five on occasion, friends often chuckle when I come out with an expression or new word they've never heard before.

Don't even get me started on pronunciations like po-tay-toe and po-tah-toe, tom-ae-toe and tom-ah-toe, banana and ban-nah-nah. It makes me smile just thinking about all the times servers have looked at me quizzically when I've ordered simple water, or they think our Labrador 'Cooper's' name is 'Cuba', to which we always answer, "you know, like the car, Mini-Cooper".
Jasper Johns painted US Flag
Anyway here are a few examples of how I'm slowly adapting my speech patterns after living in L.A. for five years:

U.K. English vs. U.S. English translation

rubbish = garbage or trash
lift = elevator
dog lead = dog leash
car bonnet = car hood
car boot = car trunk
trousers = pants (pants to us are underwear)
arse = ass
toilets = restrooms
bill = check
biscuit = cookie
sweets = candy
chips = french fries
crisps = potato chips
curtains = drapes
football = soccer
petrol = gas
hoover = vacuum cleaner
motorway = freeway
holiday = vacation
jam = jelly
postbox = mailbox
postman = mailman
mum/mam = mom
car park = parking lot/garage
trainers = sneakers
vest = tanktop
zip = zipper

In addition to all the words and cultural nostalgia that are different, one of the biggest cultural shocks came when eating out at restaurants initially, as in the U.K. we wait for all those dining to finish their meal before clearing plates (that's considered polite), versus here where plates are cleared as people finish their meals, which I have to say I've become totally accustomed to.
Union Jack flags Queen's Jubilee London
And I don't know how many times people think I'm from Australia with my British accent.

Anyway, let the assimilation continue, resistance is obviously futile...

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails