Are we speaking the same language?

OK, I’ve been in the USA for 7 weeks now and, as you can imagine, I’ve experienced quite a few differences between here and the UK.

I could talk at length about the lethal plug sockets that occasionally terrify you by sending out little sparks when you plug something into them, but I actually want to focus on something we all know is there, but I haven’t touched on it yet.

I’m talking about the differences in English and American-English.

usa uk language

This is causing me a little distress as I now work in an office where everyone spells the American way, or – as we English call it – the wrong way.  It’s exacerbated by the fact that every computer I use keeps telling me my spelling is wrong.  In fact, as I type this on my US bought laptop, I have a few red squiggly lines under perfectly spelt words like….well….’spelt’!

But it doesn’t stop there.

I have to live with the fact that they insist on dropping the ‘u’ from many words like ‘colour’, ‘flavour’ and ‘neighbour’ and then have the audacity (or is it ‘adacity’ America? Hmm?  Is it?  IS IT?) to tell me that the English actually inserted these rogue letters unnecessarily.

Apparently the ENGLISH made these amendments to the ENGLISH language that means it isn’t actually proper ENGLISH.

I beg your fucking pardon, mate??

Sorry, sorry, I got all English there!

Sorry.

I suppose I can’t be too dismissive of their version of our beloved language.  It’s a valid language after all, and it’s not like they’ve dropped the letter ‘o’ or anything.

American counts.

Another thing that’s causing me issues is the way they’ve changed words that end in ‘ise’ so they now end in ‘ize’; words like ‘summarise’ now becomes ‘summarize’ and ‘apologise’ becomes ‘apologize’.  It annoys me further that my fucking (sorry, ‘fcking’) laptop is putting red squiggly lines under the English versions of these words as i’m typing this.

Speaking of my laptop, I’ve noticed that American keyboards switch the ‘@’ symbol and the quotemarks (“”).  That hasn’t caused me to fuck up emails at all.  Not once.

Also, I don’t have a ‘£ ‘sign on my keyboard anymore.  I have to hold down the ‘Alt’ key and type 0163; not at all annoying when emailing the UK about monetary matters.

Anyway, I’ve had the conversation about the whole ‘ise’ versus ‘ize’ with my colleagues at work and they insist it’s because the end of the word sounds like it should end with a ‘z’ and not an ‘s’.  They look all smug and pleased with themselves right up until I ask them to spell ‘rise’.

It’s fun watching them try to come up with an answer like a man trying to quickly explain to a vet why he has half a ferret sticking out of his arse.

Sorry, ‘ass’.

Also, if they use the letter ‘ize’ to emphasise (sorry, ’emphasize’) the sound at the end of the word, how come they haven’t changed the word ‘surprise’?

Then there’s the classic one I always hear from both the Yanks and the Brits, the contentious word that is ‘Aluminium’.

Now, this isn’t an idiotic pronunciation of the same word akin to the Americans’ butchering of the word ‘herb’ by removing the ‘h’ and pronouncing it ‘erb’; this is actually the removal of the letter ‘i’ in the word so it’s effectively a different word.  Let me put them one above each other so you can see the difference.

A L U M I N I U M

A L U M I N U M

This one I can deal with.  I’m OK with it.  It’s spelt differently and will therefore be pronounced differently.

I even accept that the word ‘theatre’ is spelt ‘theater’ here, although I recently found out that a building that puts on plays is still a ‘theatre’ and a place that shows movies on the big screen is a ‘theater’.

Actually, fuck it, I take it back; the whole ‘theatre/theater’ thing is a load of bollocks.

But going back to what I was saying; I can also accept that Courgettes are Zucchinis, Aubergines are Eggplants, Coriander is Cilantro and Swede is Rutabaga.

Yes, Rutabaga.  That’s a real word; no red squiggly lines or anything on that one.

I’m also fine with a bonnet being a hood, a boot being a trunk, a wing being a fender and chips being fries whilst crisps are chips.

Confused yet?

Biscuits are cookies, taps are faucets, trainers are sneakers and mobile phones are cell phones.

It’s a fucking minefield I can tell you.

What I can’t accept is Pasta being pronounced ‘Paster’ and Basil being pronounced ‘Bayzel’.  Basil is also a man’s name and you get it right when it’s a man’s name and not a ‘erb.

These are the exact same words we use in England, so get it right America.  How hard can it be?  You also spell ‘Parmesan’ correctly, but then pronounce it (almost) the Italian way with a ‘g’ in it; ‘Parmigian’.

Bonkers.

Also, it’s ‘Autumn’, not ‘Fall’.  Where did this change come from?  Did someone point at the falling leaves, grunt the word “Fall” and it stuck?

We don’t call Summer, ‘Suntime’ or Winter, ‘Cold ‘n’ Wet’, so stop it.

Now.

And don’t get me started on ‘fanny’ and ‘growler’.  In American a fanny is your bum, and a growler is a type of large beer bottle.

In England, both words mean ‘vagina’.

Visits to micro-breweries have been interesting!

growler

But after all is said and done, I can’t chastise (spelt with an ‘ise’; no squiggly line) the Americans for their language.  I knew most of this before I moved here.

Except ‘rutabaga’.  No-one expected ‘rutabaga’.

I had seen enough US TV shows and movies to have an understanding of the differences in English and American-English.  It’s actually the differences in the language and the bizarre quirks that makes it all so interesting.

Sooner or later I may need to bite the bullet and start using American-English in my blog.  I haven’t decided yet if i’m going to, so let me know if you think I should or shouldn’t.

I’ve even started calling the last letter in the alphabet ‘zee’ rather than ‘zed’ as we do in England.  This wasn’t through choice though, this was a necessity.  If you say ‘zed’ here, it’s either not going to be understood, or someone will think you’re referring to their redneck uncle who married his sister.

Which come as no surprize.

pants

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17 thoughts on “Are we speaking the same language?

  1. So made me laugh – so true – the herb issue is because they try to say it in the french way – but fail miserably as it should be said with an aspirate H in french!

  2. Hi,

    Love your blog. At the risk of sounding pedantic, I wanted to mention that the Oxford spellings prefer the “-ize” endings in many cases.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford_spelling
    http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-ise1.htm

    The reason is that the original Greek ending comes from “-izo,” and many words like “realize” are constructed from the Greek ending. You should probably blame Oxford for this. You might find that Shakespear(e) preferred the “-ize” endings too.

    The words that should always be in the “-ise” ending regardless of Oxford/American style differences are advertise, advise, apprise, chastise, circumcise, comprise, compromise, demise, despise, devise, disfranchise, enfranchise, enterprise, excise, exercise, improvise, incise, premise, revise, supervise, surmise, surprise, televise.

    Mandarin Chinese phrasings in Taiwan, Hong Kong (they use Mandarin in formal writing), and Mainland China also have since diverged.

    Jason
    A Chinese American (whose parents are from Taiwan)

    • It’s not pedantic at all….I welcome any comments or feedback. This just goes to show the huge differences in a common language used by millions of people….depending on where you’re located on the planet. It boggles the mind. My American friends and I still shoot the shiz about the differences between our use of the language. Don’t even get me started on the word ‘Aluminium/Aluminum”. LOL

      • I hope it didn’t shock you too much the first time you heard it! I had an interesting and rather confusing conversation with someone a few years ago based around that expression.

        I think the differences in the various types of English are interesting because they are all so very close to each other. At least 99.9% of the time there’s no problem, and then somebody will say a sentence that you know can’t possibly mean what it sounds like it means, but you can’t work out where the problem lies.

    • Ha ha, thanks! I’ve decided to stick with English English.
      I didn’t really share because I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’ who mentions his blog at every opportunity like a tool. Plus it could offend some people as the language and content could be a little much for my USA audience 😉

      Glad you like it though 😉

  3. Rutabaga is a listed key ingredient in the one and only…very British….Branston Pickle. Can you believe it. That is, even here iin the UK, it’s on the jar as Rutabuga. When I first read it I had to look it up…I thought it was an Australian veg. Say it in that Oz accent… Sounds much better like they say it in Oz doesn’t it’?

    • I knew swede was in Branstons, but I didn’t realise it was listed as rutabaga. How bizarre!
      I won’t lie, I just said rutabaga about 3 or 4 times in an Australian accent and then thought, ‘he’s right’.

  4. Pingback: Are we speaking the same language? | hampshire Hog

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