my journey to be my best self

pardon me. can you repeat that?

In travel, Uncategorized on July 27, 2011 at 10:45 am

As I navigate through London I am making learning how to speak English. You would think when you come to London there would no language barrier but that’s just not the case. I find myself asking people to repeat themselves or even spell out the word they are trying to say because I just can’t understand. Accent aside, there are words for things you never knew had could be described as something else.

But I am used to asking where the toilet is (which seems a bit crass).

I now ask for chips when I mean fries and crisps when I mean chips. I was only baffled when both fries and chips were on a menu. And when I asked for clarity the waiter told me, “You’re American. They’re like McDonald’s.”

They dont have oatmeal here.  I looked, trying to wean myself off crossiants, and all I could find is porridge. It actually tastes the same but it makes me think of Golidlocks and the 3 bears.

I explain that I want take away when I want my order to go. And I put all of my items in the trolley at the store (don’t they have trolleys in San Francisco?) and pay for it at the till.

You can hire anything here: a car, a chair, even a towel.  You can’t rent.  You can’t even rent an apartment.  You have to let a flat.

I am used to the announcement to mind the gap between the train and the platform and know it means watch your step. But what sounds silly to me every time I hear it is “alight here.

Some other things I just can’t get used to:

1. I don’t understand the word “nought.” Apparently it’s another word for zero. Why can’t just use zero? I don’t think I’m going to start saying nought point five.

2. And “full stop” instead of period. Maybe I should incorporate that into my vocabulary. Not for grammar. I won’t say comma, full stop, exclamation point but maybe I could say, “I’m not going to dinner with him, full stop.” Ok. No. That doesn’t work either.

3. So I understand saying half six when you mean 6:30. It’s pretty close to half past six. I guess.

4. Here I have to put my appointments in my diary rather than my calendar.  And all this time I thought a diary was a book filled with pages with boys initials inside a heart with mine kept under lock and key. Silly me.

5. Why say nice when you mean good.  Can you really ever call a peice of steak nice?

6. I will never understand when people say “It’s alright” or “It’s ok” after I say thank you. If I say thank you say you’re welcome! If you’re going to just keep saying it’s ok why do I keep saying thank you? Well, because that would be rude.

A few other things I just get a kick out of:

  1. Bloody
  2. To take a piss means you’re pulling someone’s leg.  Not to be confused with:
  3. Pissed, which means drunk, not angry.  And careful not to get caught drink driving.  I have said it over and over in my head to see who’s right – drink driving vs. drunk driving and drink driving sounds a bit off every time.

And how could I forget:

A man overheard me talking on the train and said he thinks it’s funny American papers say burglarize when they could just say burgle.  Say burgle a few times. It will make you laugh.  Promise.

You can read BBC’s Americanisms: 

50 things that make them cringe in our vocabulary.  I couldn’t come up with 50 but I could if I asked 50 people like BBC did.



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