Communication between natives of these two countries should be simple, we speak the same language after all.
Well, not quite it would seem.
Not that I want to get into a pissing contest about it, but us Brits spoke the language first. Americans just bastardised it for their own use.
I am joking of course. My dearest and closest friend is American and I would never knowingly say anything to upset or hurt her. Confusing her with my use of the English language is another matter entirely….
Kate and I Skype every fortnight and it has become something that I very much look forward to, especially as I know that I can bemuse her with some of the colloquialisms that come out of my mouth. It’s not just the mockney-cockney rhyming slang that leaves her questioning my sanity, it’s also the way I pronounce things.
I can be sitting there quite happily, recounting a jaunty memory from my youth when Kate interrupts my trip down memory lane mid-flow to ask, ‘What did you just say?’
Here are just a few of the words that Kate claims that I pronounce incorrectly:
- Pasta – apparently it should be ‘paah-sta’
- Zebra – this should be pronounced ‘zeeeebra’ whereas Brits would pronounce this ‘zeb-ra’ as in ‘Debra’
- Bastard – pronounced ‘bas-tard’ not ‘baaaahstaaaard’
- Nasty – apparently you’re not supposed to say ‘naaaaahsty’
- Urinal – pronounced ‘urin-al’ and not ‘u-ri-naal’
- Tuesday – ‘toos-day’ and not ‘tews-day’
- Double Entendre – ‘dubble entendre’ and not ‘dooooblaay entendre’
- Aluminium – this is my absolute favourite. This word should be pronounced ‘alloooominum’ and not ‘all-oo-mi-nee-um’
No, Kate. Just…..no….
So it would appear that my pronunciation of my OWN language needs working on if I am to fit in when I visit the States next year. Not only that, apparently I need to be mindful of which words I use in general conversation.
Number one rule: When in America and someone compliments you on the size of your fanny, DO NOT assume that the person who complimented you is a complete pervert and a total douchebag. Apparently they mean your bottom….
So here is a list of things that I need to be mindful of in every day conversation:
- It’s not a rubbish bin, it’s a trash can
- It’s not a path, it’s a sidewalk
- The boot of my car is a trunk
- The bonnet of my car is a hood
- My pants are not my pants, they are in fact my trousers
- It’s not a handbag, it’s a purse
- A sweet is a desert, not a chocolate bar – apparently that is a candy bar
- If I ask for chips I can expect a bag of crisps
- It’s not a toilet, it’s a bathroom – even if there is no bath…
- If I see a pair of beautiful chickadees, I MUST NOT remark that I have just seen ‘a lovely pair of tits’
- If I compliment a man on his lovely jumper I will have insulted him by saying that he’s wearing a dress.
- Gas is something you put in your car and not your cooker/central heating
- A garden is a yard, which is also a unit of measurement
- An ass is a bottom and not another name for a donkey
- American football is played mainly with ones hands, yet called FOOTball…..
- Traditional football is soccer
- Cricket is an insect and not a game between two teams of eleven men, some bits of wood and a very hard ball
- If I ask for tea I will get a cup of it and not a mid-afternoon meal
- Women’s shoes can be called heels, pumps or flats. Heels are at the rear end of your feet, pumps spray water etc. and flats are something that a British person can live in
- One does not write ‘to’ someone. Apparently, you can forgo the ‘to’ and just write someone
- A bill is a check. Heaven knows what a check is called (and we spell it ‘cheque’)
- There is no ‘u’ after ‘o’. EVER (i.e. humour/humor; favourite/favorite; honour/honor etc.)
- Americans NEVER take part in any sports in which there can be no winner
- A beef burger is called a hamburger, even though it is made with beef and not pork
- I can call anyone a ‘wanker’ because apparently it has no meaning in the States.
As if the thought of my cross-cultural blunderings isn’t enough to make you cower with fear, be aware that I will be packing my bags and visiting the wonderful Kate Loveton next August. Perhaps I should print my handy guide and keep it on my pocket for the duration of the trip so that I am less likely to be beaten/arrested/deported from the wonderful shores of the United States of America.
So if you see a blundering, pasty white British buffoon walking along with a harangued American, come and say hi to Kate and I and I’ll do my best not to offend you.
Be afraid, America. Be very afraid.
Heather B Costa is coming to get you….