Word Up

14 Nov

Hey ya’ll!

I know I’ve talked before about the differences in words that I’ve encountered in my time abroad. I thought I’d setup a little mini-translation for those of you back home, in case you ever need to communicate with a Brit. So print this out and keep it handy if you ever make it across the Atlantic. (I got this idea from my friend Katie’s blog, which you can read here.)

American v. British

Subway = Tube
“I’m late, I have to catch the tube to work!”

Sweater = Jumper
“Haven’t you got a jumper? It’s freezing outside!”

Underground walkway = Subway
“Go in the subway and you’ll bypass the traffic and come up the other side.”

Pants = Underwear
“Someone’s left their pants in the dryer – ew!”

Exit = Way out
“That door over there is the way out.”

Tank Top = Vest
“You might wear a vest at the beach or in the summer if the weather is warm.”

Dorm = Flat
“I’ll meet you back at the flat with the groceries.”

Attractive = Fit
“That boy plays rugby, he’s right fit!”

Ground Beef = Mince
“I’m gonna cook up some mince for dinner.”

Cookie = Digestive, Biscuit
“Don’t you dip your biscuits in milk?”

Bangs = Fringe
“She got her hair chopped off and fringe across the top.”

Very nice = Lush
“Your homemade pasta was lush!”

Gross = Minging
“Get your minging curry out of here! It stinks!”

Dish soap = Fairy
“I’m out of Fairy, can I borrow yours to wash up?”

Candy = Sweets
“Cadbury sweets are better than Galaxy.”

Fries = Chips
“I’ll take a hamburger and a side of chips with ketchup.”

Trash = Rubbish
“Is that your rubbish in the bin?”

Thanks = Cheers
“Can I have two tickets, please? Cheers.”

You could/should  do that = Could do
“You should get your paper done now, and watch a movie later.”
“Could do.”

Yard = Garden
“Why don’t you take the dog out to play in the garden?”

“Whatsup?” = “You alright?”

This phrase in particular has led to a lot of confusion, as my flat mates will come in and say “You alright?!” and I reply, “Yes, I’m fine?! Do I look like I’ve been crying or something?”, as I grow increasingly hysterical that unbeknownst to me, something terrible has happened to my face to give off the impression that I am clearly not alright. And then we both stand in confusion, (me, desperately poking at my eyes to check for puffiness) each trying to decipher what the heck the other one is talking about.

Of course, a lot of the pronunciations are different, too. What about aluminum? Here, they say aluminium. (Take another look at it!) Now, say it like ‘al-loo-min-ee-um’. Funny, huh?

The other night, my flatmate and I went out to dinner at Pizza Express, the British version of a California Pizza Kitchen, and she ordered the pollo pizza. I know none of my Texas friends reading that missed a beat – “Right, a pizza with chicken on it.” But it took me a moment to process, and I had to ask, “Wait, what did you order?” Because she literally said “pollo” – as in 13, not our clucking, feathered friend from south of the border. Our Texan familiarity with the Spanish pronunciation rule of double ‘l’s  transforming into a ‘y’ sound spilled across the Rio Grande but didn’t quite make it across the Atlantic ocean. To her, this was completely normal. When I explained that we pronounced it differently due to its Spanish origin, pol-yo, she looked at me doubtfully and said half question, half judgment “..No.”

I had a total Napoleon Dynamite moment right then and there, and had to resist yelling out “Make yourself a dang quesadilla!”

Who knows, maybe Napoleon’s grandma was right. I guess I could understand my friend’s skepticism if she knew we pronounced words like armadillo and Amarillo by an apparently different set of rules. Oh the English language, a curious amalgam indeed!
Claire Piepenburg


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