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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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”
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.
So now I say Cell, or Cellphone.
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.
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….
 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?