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."

Thursday, January 20, 2005

It's been a while...

I know. You think I'm already slacking. Well, I am. But I have good reason. We keep having to wait to get internet access at the house, and thus I have to blog when on campus. I've been extremely busy with meetings, teaching, classes, and work. But having fun nonetheless.

I had great fun teaching my Hermeneutics class today, mostly because I taught on a subject that interests me greatly... linguistics. The perfect lead-in to our material is the difference between American and British English. I pointed out that in America, for the most part, we make no distinction between trousers and pants. But don't make that mistake here. Trousers is the word that Americans want to use while here. If you say pants here you are talking about underwear. I used this to talk about the nature of language... that it differs from region to region, and launched into a lesson on lexical semantics and then did a text-analysis of James 1:2-8. Stuff that most people don't like.

But, for my American friends, I thought you'd like to know some peculiarities of language I have noticed in my just over 2 weeks here. Here are the ones I've observed:

"Give Way" - Road sign... like our "Yield" but wordier. However, it is helpful that most smaller intersections will have a "Give Way" sign instead of a stop sign... good idea.

"Spot on" - means "right on", exactly.

"Brilliant" - If you've seen the beer commercial where the English chaps call everything brilliant, then you get an idea of how overused this word is here. Normally, where Americans would say "Great", they say "Brilliant". Gets old.

"Collect" - You don't pick up someone at the airport, you collect them.

"Push Chair" - Not a wheelchair... a baby stroller.

"Quid" - Slang for a British pound. Like the American expression "buck" for dollar.

"Mate" - Now I know where the Australians get it.

"Cheers" - Its not cheerio anymore. Cheers is the thanks and goodbye... and it has nothing to do with offering a toast.

"White coffee" - Coffee with milk in it. Seems obvious, but I noted to one friend that I'd never heard it called that before. He asked, "Well, what do you call it?". "Coffee with milk" I replied.

Other oddities... No single-vegetable baby food like carrots or peas, or green beans, etc. They're all mixed together. According to Mary, this is not good because, if the baby has trouble with one of the veggies, you can't figure out which one it is. Sounds right. We did manage to get some sweet potato baby food, and Helen loved it.

.... They love America. Don't listen to what the opinion polls tell you. They watch our movies, listen to our music, follow our politics, visit our Florida, and drive our cars. And they like to hear Southerners talk, too.

... Utilities are actually cheaper here. Of course, that might be because our house is so tiny.

... Forget finding a good citrus soft drink (like Mountain Dew), they just don't have them.

...You have to pay for all your calls, even local ones.

...Calling cell-phones costs considerably more than calling land lines.

And never, absolutely never, if you are an American visiting the UK and you are wearing one of those little pouches around your waist... never call it a "fanny pack". Just trust me.

For more one the differences between British and American English, see here.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Lord's Day

It was nice to meet with the church today. It actually took way too long to get there and we were way too late, but you live and learn. We walked about a mile to catch a train, which connected to another train, which took us a station where we had to walk another 1/2 mile or so to get to church.... 2 hours in total to get there. With some helpful advice from a sister at church... 30 minutes on 2 buses with no walking to get home. But now we know! Helen took it all in stride and complained very little... less than we adults did.

Church was interesting.... we were quite late. But we did get a chance to meet a few of the memebers there, and one might be able to give us a ride on Sunday.

I left off my last post mentioning I was going to Wolverhampton, a town about 15 miles north of here. I took a train there. Decided to take a cab to the home of the person with the B&W TV for sale. The cabby recognized me for a rookie, took the long way (£7.80), and told me I would have to pay £5 extra just to bring the TV in the cab. The lady at the house told me he was being "cheeky", so we told him to go on and she called another cab. He charged me £4 to get back to the train station and no £5 fee. And, yes, the TV works and only cost £10. And in black and white everything looks nostalgiac.

Now we get 4 1/2 BBC channels. I'd heard that there were 6, but can't find the other. Last night we caught part of Law & Order and then some CSI. They show an American movie on channel 4 almost every night. And they do not edit out any of the language.... I mean any. And this is "regular" TV. But its nice to have for those times we want to take it easy.