Oh My Word! (Well, not anymore)

The other day I was talking to my family on Skype and I encountered a horrifying moment….I mean, more horrifying than having to speak to my family.

Am I right?  Huh?  Anyone?

Nope….not even a little bit

Ahem….moving on….

So anyway, we were chatting away and I had a moment where I nearly said ‘parking lot’ instead of ‘car park’. This was the first time my English brain didn’t automatically filter out the American version of a word. Usually I can separate all my Americanisms when I speak to friends and family back home, but this was the first time I slipped.

My heart sank.

Two years ago when I was about to move to the US, a lot of my friends mocked me, saying I would have an American accent within a year.

WRONG!

Although I did admit that I would no doubt take on American versions of words because, well, I wanted to be understood.

Use English words; get this look

This got me thinking about all the words and phrases I have actively adopted to be better understood in this land of burgers, guns, and self righteous entitlement. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of words and phrases that I’ve started using to blend in seamlessly with my surroundings.

Let’s start with the inspiration for this post:

Parking Lot – This has replaced Car Park and, frankly, I don’t care.  Both work.

Trunk, Hood and Fenders – These have replaced Boot, Bonnet and Wings respectively. To be honest, I miss the English versions of these words but if I were to use them here, most people would think I am talking about some weirdly dressed bird (aviary, not ovary)

Gas – This has replaced Petrol.  I stubbornly resisted this one for ages; plumping instead to use the word ‘fuel’ as some sort of workaround.  This was initially because Petrol is liquid and Gas is, well, gas…and that’s just stupid.  Then it occurred to me that, in the same way that Petrol is short for Petroleum, Gas is actually short for Gasoline and I’m actually stupid (short for Stupid Twat). However, ‘Gas’ is also used to describe farting which is incredibly confusing when someone announces they have gas.  That never happened with ‘Petrol’.  Not once.

Just saying.

Anyway, moving away from cars; let’s move to clothing…

Pants – This has replaced Trousers and is still as funny to me today as it was the first time I heard it being used on TV when I was a child.  I realise it’s short for ‘Pantaloons’, but that doesn’t make it any less funny, because the word ‘Pantaloons’ is simply farcical!

Pants has always been, and will always be, underwear…or English slang for ‘worthless’, ‘crap’ or just ‘a little bit wank’.

Mind you, if I say Trousers I AM understood in America, but then I’m mocked for being all hoity toity like I’m drinking tea and eating crumpets.  After all, isn’t that what all us Brits do all the time apparently? (rolls eyes)

Sneakers – This has replaced Trainers.  I hate this adjustment because not once, EVER, have I sneaked[1] anywhere in my sneakers…but I have trained in my trainers.  Still, I need to be understood, so sneakers it is.

He he he….’Pants’.  It still gets me.

Sweater – This has replaced Jumper.  To be fair, this isn’t a big deal.  Like a reverse example I gave for sneakers, I have sweated in a sweater but I’ve never jumped in a jumper…unless it has a high nylon content and I’ve touched something metal.

There are other clothing differences like ‘Suspenders’ which is the US word for the braces that hold up your ‘pants’ (snigger), whereas that word exclusively refers to ‘stockings and suspender belt’ in the UK and braces are those things used to straighten your teeth, but I haven’t adopted any of that shit because…seriously, who’s having conversations about suspenders, or braces, or pants.

He he, ‘Pants’.

Aaaaaaaanyway, here are some other words and phrases in no particular category…

Z – This has replaced Z.  Yes, I’m talking about the American way of pronouncing it as ‘Zee’ instead of ‘Zed’.  I do that now.  Deal with it.

At least now the alphabet song rhymes at the end.

Soda – This has replaced Soft Drink.  To be honest, I love this one!  If I were to say ‘soft drink’ I would be understood but I just love using the word ‘soda’.  That said, I won’t use it around my English friends as I don’t want to be accused of becoming a yank!

Limeys eh? Pff!

Elevator – This has replaced Lift…and my brain processes this one slightly different to the others.  This one I have to consciously think about because my brain still desperately wants to use the word ‘lift’.  In fact, I thanked someone for “holding the lift” for me yesterday. They smiled, but they also gave me that look.

Erm…..what?

Napkin – This has replaced Serviette.  The first time I ever visited America, my girlfriend and I went to a restaurant and I noticed my place at the table didn’t have a serviette, so I asked the waitress (sorry, ‘server’) for one. She looked puzzled for a moment and said “Yes, that’s me”. It was my turn to look at her puzzled before asking her again, “Have you got a serviette?”.

There was another pause.

“That’s me”, she repeated.

Er, what?

So I picked up my girlfriend’s serviette and held it up. “A serviette, do you have another one of these?” (shaking it passive aggressively in her face)

“Oh!”, she said, “You mean a napkin!  I thought you said ‘Have you got our server yet!'”

I’m pretty sure that sentence is grammatically incorrect, but nevertheless…now I use the word ‘napkin’.  It’s a little change that means I get to wipe my mouth when I get food everywhere.

I’m a messy eater.

Nom nom nom!

Vacation – This has replaced Holiday.  I knew this change was coming; it was inevitable. In America, the word ‘holiday’ refers to a national holiday like the 4th of July (no, we don’t celebrate that in the UK; stop asking!), Thanksgiving (no, we don’t celebrate that in the UK; stop asking!), Martin Luther King day (no, we don’t celebrate that in the UK; stop asking!) and Labor day (no, we don’t celebrate that in the UK; stop asking!).

If you’re going away for a trip, then you need to use the word ‘vacation’ otherwise you simply aren’t understood….no matter how much context there is!

“My wife and I are going on holiday to Hawaii”

Whaaaa…?

Cellphone or Cell – This has replaced Mobile Phone, or Mobile. Now, this one is more of an issue with phonetics rather than not being understood. You see, Americans DO use the term ‘Mobile Phone’, but they pronounce ‘Mobile’ like it rhymes with ‘Noble’, and I REFUSE to pronounce it in the stupid way they say it.

Yes, I said it’s stupid. That’s because I have friends here who argue this with me and I like to get the final say.

Ha!

So now I say Cell, or Cellphone.

Get it?

Line – This has replaced Queue. When you’re waiting for your call to be answered by a call centre (center) and “your call is important to us”, you’re in a queue. When your printer has a lot of print jobs to process, it’s in a queue. When you’re stood at the post office behind everyone else, you’re in a line.

Wait, what?

I’ve tried addressing this with my American chums and, apparently, it’s because you are literally in a line. I suppose that makes sense as you’re also in a line when you’re dancing the conga at someone’s wedding. But on that occasion you’re not waiting to be served; you’re awkwardly holding the waist of some stranger in front of you as you shuffle along, kicking out your legs and clocking a child or two in the face.

Laundry – This has replaced Washing.  Now THIS is something I can get behind. I love using the word laundry as it specifically describes the act of washing one’s clothes

He he, ‘Pants’.

It makes no sense that we call it ‘washing’ in the UK, especially when it’s done at a Laundrette (or Laundromat in the US).  A clue is in the name LAUNDRette.

Groceries or Grocery Store – This has replaced Food Shop and Supermarket respectively.  Like ‘Laundry’, I love this change in my verbiage.  I’ve always disliked the fact that when someone in the UK says, “I’m going shopping”, it’s not clear if they’re buying food or a gimp swing.

This is usually remedied by the phrase, “I’m going to do a shop” which is exclusively supermarkety.

Now, moving away from English verbiage that has been replaced with their American counterparts, and onto phrases that have I have adopted and use regularly, much to my shame.

A.F. – This is an acronym (because America LOVES acronyms!) that literally means ‘As Fuck’.  For example, “It is hot A.F. today”, or, as I’ve heard some people say but I can’t bring myself to say it yet but i’m sure I will at some point in the future, “Bomb A.F.”.

This loosely translates to “My word, that was amazing”.

Hot Minute – This means “In a long time” or, as we Brits like to say, “In donkeys’ years”. Some drop the word hot and say “Yo dawg, I haven’t seen you in a minute”, but not me.  If the minute isn’t hot, it’s not worth mentioning…apparently.

Hot Mess – it’s the same as ‘Mess’, but hotter and used to describe someone rather than somewhere.  Allow me to elaborate….

If your bedroom is untidy, it’s not a hot mess…it’s just a mess.  However, if you’re drunk with vomit down your shirt, your trousers (he he, pants) around your ankles, pissing on your shoes whilst singing abusive songs at the clergy, you’re a hot mess.  In fact, you’re the hottest of messes….and you really shouldn’t be in church right now.

All Day, ErrDay – This literally translates to “All Day, Every Day‘, but is a little more ghetto and a lot fucking lazier.  That said, ever since Carl the sausage said it in Sausage Party, I’ve been loving this phrase and I use it….

….you guessed it….

….sometimes.

[1] Or ‘snuck’ as the Americans like to say.  It’s funny how ‘leaked’ isn’t ‘luck’, ‘peaked’ isn’t ‘puck’ and ‘freaked’ isn’t ‘fruck’….but hey, who am I to judge?

Oh, wait….

Thanksgiving…it’s not British don’t you know?

Today is Thanksgiving.

I’m at work.

“What??”, I hear you cry.

“On Thanksgiving!!??”, you continue.

But let’s be honest here, I’m English; I don’t give a shit about Thanksgiving.

It’s not that I dislike it or anything, but it’s just not something that’s been in my life, like tampons.

It’s there, and I’ve seen it on TV a lot, but that’s for someone else to deal with.

Plus, my side of the family are a little over 5100 miles away in England so we wouldn’t have been together anyway, enjoying a holiday none of us celebrates based on something that never happened in the UK and is entirely America in origin.

You’ll be surprised how many people have asked me if we celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK.

(shakes head sadly at the state of the education system)

It also baffles me why Americans think we celebrate the 4th of July over there too.

I suppose, if they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day (Irish) and Halloween (Celtic), why wouldn’t we celebrate Independence Day?  After all, it’s a holiday that commemorates the United States’ independence from the British Empire.

missing you

Sounds a hoot.

In fact, I think I’m supposed to be offended.

But I’m not, because I don’t care.

Tampons.

The only 4th I celebrate is Star Wars day in May.  The nerd in me loves the pun.

To be honest, I seriously believe that no-one here knows why they celebrate the 4th of July, only that it has something to do with Will Smith.

will the fuck

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

The Great(?) British Weather?

We Brits hate our weather.

Let’s be honest, it’s a constant battle to try and second guess what clothes would be best to wear for the day.

“But it’s supposed to be nice later”, you’ve said whilst looking out of the window in your pyjamas at the thunderstorm destroying half of your garden.

The warmth of your house feels so lovely compared to the cold touch of the glass, and the fact that half of the neighbourhood’s kids have just flown past your window (being chased by frantic parents) only reinforces the belief that maybe, just maybe, the weathermen are wrong.

Yet, by 2pm, it is glorious sunshine and the massive chunky knit jumper you’re wearing suddenly seems like a bad idea. You’re slowly shrivelling to a sweaty little raisin under the sheer depth of insulation you stupidly decided to don.  Luckily you didn’t wear anything underneath so there’s no chance of beating the heat by shedding a layer without the possibility of getting arrested.

This is why we Brits talk about the weather, a lot. It is unpredictable and ever changing, so of course it becomes the focal point of most conversations.

We hate it. We long for consistency in our weather; preferably involving a lot of sun, plenty of sand and an assortment of brightly coloured fruity beverages with umbrellas in them.

The irony of the umbrellas is often lost on us.

It is because of all these things that we love to travel. We love to go to faraway places and do nothing but eat, drink, shop and tan. In fact, the quality of our holiday is often judged on just how dark we can go.

Also, the colour of choice is brown; the darker the brown, the more awesome the holiday. Dark pink, on the other hand, is as welcomed as it is on a chicken leg at a barbeque.  Burning and peeling is deemed a sign of a bad holiday and, by the laws of British conversational etiquette, usurps weather as the prominent topic of which to moan.

“I was so burned I had to have an ice bath”

“I can’t stop peeling. George A. Romero called me to see if I wanted a job as an extra”

So off we fly, to faraway lands and the limitless experiences that await us. We eat, we drink (and being British, we DRINK) and we meet lots of different people, cultures and customs. We also take plenty of photos and videos to ensure we keep Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on their toes; buying bigger data servers to accommodate our overwhelming need to show off

‘Point of view’ shot of your feet by the pool?

Don’t mind if I do.

You see, these holidays are a necessity for us. We manage to sleep better than we have in years and we allow the stresses of everyday life to dissipate in the bubbles of our in-room Jacuzzi. In fact, whilst having a massage in the spa, all we have to worry about is whether we’ll be having white wine or a cocktail with dinner.

Obviously it depends if we go for the Lobster or the Sirloin.

But we’ve earned it. We’ve worked hard for this. Day in, day out we’ve endured deadlines, emails, phone calls and everything in between. We’ve saved our pennies and now it’s time to cash in and treat ourselves to a little luxury.  This is what life is all about, right?

We simply love our holidays.

Then, when it’s all over and we arrive back in good old Blighty, there’s an odd part of us that looks forward to going back to work.  We look forward to others commenting on how brown we are in our carefully chosen white shirt.

That is unless we’re the type, guide book in hand, running around at breakneck speed to ensure we’re getting in as much culture and sights as possible.

Can’t miss a thing!

We end up spending more time inside buildings than outside them, resulting in us returning home almost the same colour as when we left.

The upside is we have a lot of photos to show you in a well prepared four hour slide presentation.

“Here’s Bob next to a tree”.

“Here’s Bob inside the cathedral”.

“Here’s Bob eating an ice cream”.

“Here’s Bob next to a tree”.

Ad Nauseum.

And after all is done, as we commute to work in the rain, we think about where we were this time yesterday and where we want to go to next.

Yes, we Brits hate our weather sometimes, but without it we wouldn’t have the desire to go out into the world and explore what’s on offer.

Mind you, our summers can be pretty damn good!

Pimms anyone?

British socks and sandals