Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Expanding Your Vocabulary...or Maybe Shrinking It

When I moved to the UK I expected to pick up new words. What I didn't expect was to start actually using them in conversation, a lot. What I have found is that it is a lot easier to use "British" words when talking to people around here. First off, the Brits understand when I use words they are familiar with. The Americans here have also adapted and are used to hearing these words as well, so you don't have to explain to them either. Thus, more effective, especially in mixed company. By mixed company I mean both Brits and Americans.

This whole phenomenon has also lead to another quirky thing. I am forgetting American terms. Well maybe not as much forgetting, but when I am talking to an American in the States sometimes I have to search for the right word. I can't very well tell them I am having chips with dinner when I clearly am talking about french fries. They will think potato chips or crisps rather.... I tell my kids to "bung it in the bin". Yeah that means "throw it in the trash". Oh and rubbish is trash. I yell "OY!" at the kids when I want to get their attention instead of "Hey".

OK, so I just looked up in the first paragraph and saw that I used the term "as well"; very British. If I was talking to an American I would have said also. Or the word "proper". I say proper all the time. I just can't even help it. It has permeated my life. I am not complaining by any means. I am just looking for a few strange looks when I visit the States in a few weeks.

Oh and there is one word I will NEVER say here. Bloody. It just sounds really wrong coming out with an American accent. But I can bloody well type it!

36 comments:

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

You are right, Bloody doesn't work with an American accent. Never thought of that before.

Did you see Not Wrong Just Differents take on English people trying to talk to Americans?

http://blogiota.blogspot.com/2009/10/if-you-can-type-you-can-make-movie.html

TheMadHouse said...

I have to agree Bloody just doesnt work in an american accent, however, I am a Northerner and used to live in the south and well the joy.....

buns (northern meaning a bread roll) = cake (southern speak)
beer = larger
pop (fizzy drink) = a quiet bang

Oh and the accent well that was even harder the whole grass versus grarse, bath v barth, scone v scoone

Chairman Bill said...

Oy!?

Surely you mean Oi!

Meagan Lopez said...

Oh God! I could never say Oi! or Oy! Either one, but I could say oy vey. Now, that I get!
One thing I find myself saying over and over is snog or yes, Rubbish.

One thing I don't get. How can the phrase "Walk of Shame" make it across the pond, but "washing the dishes" can't?

Chairman Bill said...

Or how about: "I'm going out for a fag in my lunch break."

straw76berry said...

"That's too funny" you remind me of me the other way around!! When I lived out in the states I found myself doing just that but using the American lingo. In fact I even developed a little accent (all by accident) as I had no other Brits around me. And even now after being back in old blighty for over 8 yrs I still find myself saying a few American isms.
Things I say "It's wicked cold" or "that is wicked dirty" or "it's all garbage" and the " laundry hamper" and "pop the hood" and errm what else ...oh yes and this even drives me mad I say "oh my god" haha. Oh yeah just thought of another instead of tidying up I still "pick up" !!
and the best part is My Hubby who has never been over there also says it and my daughters too and Savannah was only 2 when we returned. And my others have never been there! but they do watch alot of American shows...ooops there I go again shows not programmes haha
much love and "have a nice day ya'll....xxx"

straw76berry said...

Chairman bill you could get yourself in lots of trouble saying that across the pond. Which reminds me of a time when I first landed in the states and I walked past a dvd shop and they were advertising a work out vid called "firm fannies" well as a brit that meant summat totally different to me and I thought wow...they think of everything over here!! haha xx

satakieli said...

Bloody 'ell.

It's almost like speaking two languages. When I am out of the house speaking to Americans I use American words, when I'm at home with the family I speak Brit. Occasionally I'll speak entirely in Nottingham slang to confuse everyone.

Mwa said...

I'm getting confused now because I'm not living in Britain any more, and I'm reading blogs from all over the world. I'm sure most of my words are still British, but I'm getting contaminated.

mo.stoneskin said...

Bloody hell. Just this morning there was a chav on the bus, listening to cruddy music and getting my goat as well. I'd like to have luzzed him in the bloody rubbish bin. 'I need a fag,' he muttered as he got off the bus.

susan said...

One phrase that I have always considered "British" seems to be creeping into more and more American conversations. "Spot on"--Could Simon Cowell really have that much influence on us? :)

Mom in High Heels said...

That's so funny! I love contemporary British lit, old British comedies and tons of British movies and have found many words creeping into my vocabulary. I've said "bloody" for years (which you might have picked up if you read my blog regularly) and things have been "bang on" or "spot on" as long as I can remember.
I have found that I have the same issue with German words. I get used to saying them and often forget to use the American word when I'm speaking to Americans. My mom has called me on this several times when we're on the phone.

Mama Dawg said...

I don't even care, I love the word bloody. Try hearing it in an American/Southern accent! LOL!

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

Language is such a funny thing. Just moving from the NYC area to the Boston area years ago brought many changes in slang and even words. Great post and fun comments.

Sprite's Keeper said...

Funny, I use Bloody all the time!

Jess said...

Don't worry...when you get here in a few weeks we will straighten you on out! Bobby is from North Carolina and has a VERY heavy accent...we will get ya bloody talkin right before ya know it!

Pollyanna said...

As a transplant from Wisconsin to Missouri, I suffer from something similar. When I was a kid, I drank from a bubbler, put things away, opened a can of pop and ended most of my sentences with "Aye".

Now, I drink from a drinking fountain, put things up, open a can of soda, but that "Aye" just never seemed to fade.

And that Northern accent has a tendency to creep back into my speech within five minutes of being back home (WI), but takes at least a day to fade upon my return to reality (MO).

for a different kind of girl said...

Ha! My youngest son walks around saying "bloody" in an English accent all the time! "Bloody well time to go to school, mum!" (he says 'Mum,' too!). "I already did my bloody homework!" "Bloody good dinner, Mum!"

The kid's a character. I make him say things in the accent just because...because I bloody well can. Heh...

kanishk said...

just doesnt work in an american accent, however, I am a Northerner and used to live in the south and well the joy.....
Make website india

Michele said...

It doesn't take very long to pick up the localisms does it? I've been saying ya'll way too much lately.

Jenny said...

I picked up "alright" after only a month or so here in England. Not that the word is new to me, the way I say it is. It made my husband laugh and I drove myself crazy with it. I finally had to banish the word from my vocabulary, replacing it with words like precisely and exactly and things that did not sound anything like "alright."

Single Parent Dad said...

We'll Britishfy you further, godamit!

bethany said...

I'm an Anglophile by choice, but I didn't know that "as well" (a phrase I use all the time, btw) was more British than American. Nor did I know about "Oy!" versus "Hey!"

And I use the term "bloody" all the bloody time. American accent or no. ;o)

I even, occasionally, use bollocks.

The Good Cook said...

I think it's great that you are so acclimated that you are speaking "British".. so cheerio!

Moonspun said...

I think that is very cool!

Marsha said...

I absolutely LOVE the term Bloody hell. It's one of my favorites.

I noticed recently that there's a pet commercial, American, that's airing lately that says something about banning a cat "to the garden". Visually the owner is simply popping the cat outdoors. I think it's awesome that Americans are catching onto calling their yard a "garden". It sounds much cooler.

Captain Dumbass said...

Oy. You're ready for a soccer match and a riot now.

honeywine said...

I used to do the same thing after watching too much BBC America. :)

Aunt Juicebox said...

LOL I use "as well" all the time. It must just be this area. Like, we say "please?" instead of "excuse me, what the eff did you just say?" My relatives in the south laugh at the way I saw "bowl" and similar words. It's all very interesting.

Jen said...

yeah Bloody would sound weird with an American accent.

Irish Gumbo said...

Cor blimey, guv, based on that criteria, maybe I should call myself British Gumbo, yeah?

Still, I can't help but snicker when I here a phrase like "Give us a fag, then"...sigh...and me a supposed adult...

I say bloody a lot. Or bleedin'. now I'll be really self-conscious about it! :)

BeautifulWreck said...

Bloody sounds even worse if you are southern and have a redneck accent.

Miss America said...

I know exactly what you mean about the British words becoming a normal part of life! I'm back in the States now (until December) but still talk to my British Gent every day, and even that communication is enough to find myself continuing to use "rubbish", "proper", and my favorite to use with him "What are you like?". My friends and family give me a little "look" after I do it, but they've become used to it by now. It's amazing how easily they slip into the vernacular.

Chris Mancini said...

Wait, so is it fish AND chips, or fish 'n chips?

Raven said...

I love learning new words and slang to use. Can't use what I learn around here though cuz no one has any idea what I'm talking about!

Amanda said...

Do you have the lilt yet? After four years, I had enough lilt to sound Scottish to Canadians.