June 27, 2007

They Put U in Color

"The Americans are identical to the British in all respects except, of course, language."
Oscar Wilde

Friends spent the night at my house in New York when we were at that age where sleep-overs were cool and involved giving each other total makeovers with our mother's make up collection. My dad would often cook us dinner. He would ask if we wanted 'toasties” and my friend would inevitably turn to me and whisper, “What's a toastie?” In America, they're just called grilled cheese, boring as it may sound.

My dad's British-English was there throughout my childhood whether he was telling me to help my mother with the laundry and put the flannels in the cupboard or use more washing up liquid on the dishes. Friends were fascinated with his accent and called to listen to his voice on the answering machine when they knew we were out.

Then there are the dreaded spelling differences, the u's in colour and neighbour, the double 'l' in travelling, the 's' instead of 'z' in organisation, the added 'ue' at the end of catalogue. It's easy to forget, and a pain for one attempting to transfer journalism training from one country to the next.

This is not intended to come anywhere near being an exhaustive list, but here are some small yet amusing differences I've picked up. If you know any that make you giggle, use it in a sentence in a comment and I'll add it.

England: I'm full up.
America: I'm full.

England: Drive straight on to the next town.
America: Drive straight to the next town.

England: What do you reckon?
America: What do you think?

England: Mind the gap.
America: Watch out for the gap.

England: That's wicked!
America: That's awesome!

England: Throw the rubbish in the skip.
America: Throw the garbage in the dumpster.

England: Where's the toilet?
America: Where's the bathroom?

England: Check out the fit bloke in that shop.
America: Check out the hot guy in that store.

England: Come meet my mates.
America: Come meet my friends.

England: Can we crash at yours?
America: Can we crash at your house?

England: Did you rent that flat?
America: Did you rent that apartment?

England: Take the lift to the 9th floor.
America: Take the elevator to the 8th floor.

England: I'll do the washing up since you did the cooking.
America: I'll do the dishes since you cooked.

England: I lost my mobile.
America: I lost my cell.

England: Look at that tourist's bum bag.
America: Look at that tourist's fanny pack.

England: I need to stop at a cash point.
America: I need to stop at an ATM.

England: I'm going to pick up some lozenges at the chemist.
America: I'm going to pick up some coughdrops at the drugstore.

England: Switch on the tourch; it's dark in here.
America: Turn on the flashlight; it's dark in here.

England: Toss your muddy trainers in the boot.
America: Toss your muddy sneakers in the trunk.

England: He's on the pull.
America: He's picking up girls.

England: Let's go to the cinema and see that new film.
America: Let's go to the theater and see that new movie.

England: I wore my new trousers, knickers and jumper today.
America: I wore my new pants, underwear and sweater today.
Other random things you hear in England but rarely in America: dodgy, fry-up, chips rather than frenchfries and crisps rather than chips, football rather than soccer, innit, chav, proper, shopping trolley, selotape, gaffer tape, pavement, wonky


Vanessa said...

i love language differences, i enjoyed reading that because i noticed that us in NZ use a mixture of both. (but we write in the british way of course :P)

Michael said...

Yes, but did you ever see a man wearing a fanny pack? ;)

Anonymous said...

We add the U's in colour that sort of thing. Stupid spell check tells me all the time I have misspelled something, when in fact I have not :) I have always found language differences amusing.

I don't even if you will see this, sorry just reading through these now :)
_ *Cassie*