Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Speaking English

Since we have been here for nine months now, I think I have gotten the hang of the differences in my American English vs. English English.  Or at least I thought I had until the other night when I rode my bike to the store for some milk.

There were three cyclists in front of me; two were going my speed, one was very slow and wobbly.  The two fast people passed the slow guy, so I did the same.  Except when I went to pass him, he yelled at me!  And you wouldn't believe what he said:  "You wiley cu**!  You almost ran me over!"  Now, at first I was pretty shocked to be called this, but then I realized the wobbliness was because he was drunk (pissed!) and looked like he was probably homeless.  It made me wonder if he had just "acquired" that bike recently.  Anyway, I came home and told Dave that story and he busted out laughing.  I am wondering if in England the term is more common?  Like calling someone a bitch in the US isn't really all that insulting anymore??

Then for some reason, something has changed in Maxwell this week.  He has slowly been developing a bit of an accent for months, but this week we have really noticed a difference.  You can really hear it in the inflection when he asks questions.  It's not something I can express with the written word, so I am going to do my best to capture a video of it!  And of course because I spend all my time with him or other moms, teachers, and kids, I am starting to do it, too.  Dave thinks it is hilarious and makes fun of me, but also thinks it is awesome because I don't even realize I am doing it.  And for some reason I only do it when I am talking to Maxwell or other children.  The biggest changes in Maxwell's vocabulary are that he occasionally now says wee and toilet (instead of peepee and potty), rubbish (garbage), bin (garbage can), bit (piece), as well (too), and biscuit (cookie).  He is also saying today and story weird.  Today sounds like todah, and story is suddenly stor-ay.  And of course, much to my dismay, I get the occasional Mummy.  Yuck.  Of course, these words always sneak up the most the couple hours after I pick him up from school, and on the weekends he doesn't do it much.

Then there is my spelling.  I bought my laptop here so it is set up to UK English and the keyboard is all weird.  I think I am getting used to it.  When I first got it I always had ## at the end of everything because that is now in the place by my right pinky where the enter key should be.  It is weird seeing words that I know I am spelling correctly get underlined all the time, though. Color?  No, colour.  Neighbor?  Nope.  Neighbour.  Favourite.  Favour.  What's with all the extra "U"s?  And apparently I am only supposed to hit the spacebar once after I finish a sentence, although I was taught to use two.  Hmmm...

So, just in case you come to visit or call us on the phone or skype, here's a quick reference guide to some of the new words we are using, due to the fact that if we don't people look at us like we are a little dumb.  :o)

Garden = backyard
buggy or pushchair or pram = stroller
nappy = diaper
pants = underwear
trousers = pants
lorry = truck
trolley = shopping cart
motorway = highway or freeway
slip road = exit on the motorway
queue = line
cinema/film = movie theater/movie
ring = call on the phone
call = visit your home
diary = calendar
boot = trunk
holiday = vacation
proper = actual or real.  I used this a couple weeks ago on my Facebook page without realizing it.  "David and I went on a proper date."  ;o)

These are the terms that have crept up into our vocabulary over the last nine months.  There are a TON more differences!  It took me years of living in California to start saying soda instead of pop, so I am pretty surprised that these changes have happened so quickly.  Do you think we'll all have accents by the time we move back to the States??

Man.  I just heard that last question in an accent in my head.

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