Saturday, January 22, 2005

Step right up!

Always glad to see when folks post comments to my blogs. As an incentive to continue to do this, I'm going to mention those of you who have posted comments and to encourage others to join in

K. "Capes" Carpenter mentions the 2 other important differences - 1) In the UK, you don't get in line, you get in a que (so its "que up" instead of "line up" 2) They prefer jumper to sweater, though I haven't come across the expression myself.

BTKey mentions that what American baby owners (aka parents) call onesies the Brits call a "baby grower". I'd like to know the rationale.

Tim B. in New Zealand, whom I have never met, says that the Brits do "pick up" people in the airport, but only for, shall we say, a rendezvous. I'd like to know if Tim is a Brit or only a Kiwi who fancies himself as British. Please, do tell.

And here are lots more which I typed the other night and only getting round to posting today:
More Bringlish
I just thought of some more British phraseology which might seem odd to Americans:
1. The use of the a plural verb with a singular noun which describes a collective. The best way to explain is an example. Over here, you might hear something like this on TV:"The government are planning a 5% increase in spending." To an American, the verb "are" jumps out and should obviously be "is". I don't know that I'll ever get used to it.
2. "Me" instead of "my". Of course its informal, but you hear alot of things like, "Crikey, I left me keys in the door." Seems that I've heard that before in movies.
3. Solicitors & Barristers: In America, both of these jobs are covered by a lawyer. Here, if one wants to file a lawsuit, he must first approach a solicitor, who will, if he deems its worthy, take the case to a barrister, who in turn will do the representing in court. A person cannot directly approach a barrister. It must be done through a solicitor.
4. Its impossible to find cookies or french fries. Not that they don't have them, but they are called "biscuits" and "chips", respectively. They might actually have more of a variety of cookies, yet they call them anything but cookies. And the chips thing... when you hear of the English "fish and chips", it means fish and french fries. So what do they call potato chips then? Crisps. (Okay, I've actually seen one package of cookies labeled "sweet cookies", and a certain variety of crisps called "potato chips", but these are aberrations I assure you).
5. The "Loo". Don't make the mistake of asking where the bathroom is because a) you might find yourself in a room with a sink and a bathtub and no toilet(commode), or b) you'll be told that they don't have one because they don't actually have a bathtub in there. If you want a toilet, you ask for a toilet. Unless, of course, you're in an informal situation, when you would ask for "the loo". Its a little more formal than the American slang "the john".
6. Cheeky. Someone who is cheeky is purposefully crossing the line, but in a "cute" or mischievious sort of way. I was told that the cab driver who tried to overcharge me was being cheeky, but he was anything but cute or mischievious in my opinion. I was also told that the cat next door is cheeky because he likes to slip inside when you open the door. Of course, my only exposure to cheeky before I arrived was Mike Myer's character "Simon" in the bathtub telling the audience, "Don't you look at my bum. Don't you look at it... you cheeky monkey."
7. Don't pronounce the "w". We live in Smethwick, on the west side of Birmingham. Of course, its pronounced "Smethick". I did not know this for the first 3 days or so. Once, a lady asked me what my address was. I told her... Smeth-WICK. She said, "SmethICK". I corrected her, "No, Smethwick". She must have been rolling inside. They drop the "w" in other -wick cities like "Warwick", etc.. Ours it not to question why.
8. Another pronunciation peculiarity - Edinburgh. No doubt many Americans knew this, but not me. Even though it looks like EdinBURGH, it is pronounced EdinBOROUGH. I heard it repeatedly one night on TV in a competition between a local college and the University of Edinburgh. I also had the fact verified by my friend John Hull. He remarked, "EdinBOROUGH, hmm, sounds very AMERICAN."
I'm sure I'll notice more soon and will blog about them. As G.B. Shaw said, "Britain and America are two countries separated by a common language."


At 10:11 AM, Blogger Tim said...

Actually, legally I'm both. Though linguistically I am English, with a wife from Northern Ireland, who has lived a few years in Scotland. It's just the last decade or so we've been here in NZ, but took citizenship a good few years ago, too.

At 6:31 AM, Blogger Mommy of Boys said...

Hi Michael,

Glad to see I made your blog! Isn't Birmingham pronounced differently too? Oh, and don't they say rubbish instead of trash? I can't think of any more right now.

Bridget Jones's Diary was on last night and I thought of you all.

Give Mary and Helen my love! Keep 'ritin' and I'll keep readin'...



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