Having a chuckle (loudly) in 2009 as an American in Britain

yahooavatar15Dear Readers,

Let’s start off the New Year laughing together (ummm…if you are an American, the louder the better in my books)

A British couple have compiled this site when they moved to America (they even moved to a street called Tossa lane — really!) Have a look: http://www.effingpot.com/

And if you still don’t believe me….here is an excerpt, written by the website’s author, Dr. Effingpot.

Cheeky – “Eee you cheeky monkey” was what my mother said to me all the time when I was a kid. Cheeky means you are flippant, have too much lip or are a bit of a smart arse! Generally you are considered to be a bit cheeky if you have an answer for everything and always have the last word. My licence plate on my MX5 (Miata in American) was CHEEKY, which most Texans thought was something to do with bottoms – wrong!!

Bang – Nothing to do with your hair – this is a rather unattractive way of describing having sex. Always gets a smile from Brits in American hair dressers when they are asked about their bangs.

Duck – In and around Leeds you will find older people might call you “duck” in the same way that they might call you “love” or “dear” in other places. Usually pronounced more like “dook”, which rhymes with “book”.

Pants – Don’t make a comment about an Englishman’s pants – they are his underwear! Same for ladies too, though knickers would be more common. We were in a pub in England one day when two attractive American girls walked in wearing quite short skirts and one loudly said to the other that she was cold and that she should have worn pants! Needless to say she instantly had the attention of every Englishman in the place, who thought there was nothing under her skirt!

Hooter – Your hooter is your nose. The clue is in the noise you make when you blow it! Some people even have one that looks like a hooter, just for effect I think. It’s also the horn on a car. Just imagine how shocked Brits must be when they go to the bar you have called Hooters and they find that the waitresses all have normal noses – disappointing!”

Translating from English to… English

yankeebeanSome English people have been to America. Usually Florida or New York. But some have actually lived there for some chunk of time. These English people (the ones who have lived in America), translate from English to English.

When they get chatting with an American, the pronounce words the American way -> ‘toe-may-toe’, ‘gar-aaah-je’, ‘highway’, ‘al-ooo-min-um’, ‘seh-my’, you get the idea. And they do it with an I’m-one-of-you twinkle in their eye.

I think this is fascinating and I THINK they’re doing it to try and be friendly… Which is nice. But I don’t really understand why. It inevitably leads to me saying ‘Oh! Good pronunciation there! *insert-rehearsed-laughter*’. And then we talk about the time they spent in America, what they did there, who they know there, ect etc etc…

Sometimes they even mention specific names of friends or relatives as if I’m going to know these people (because America is just a big village, really…)

The good thing is that the English-to-English translators are usually the people that actually LIKE Americans. So it could be worse.

So much for speaking a common language!

Reverse Pronunciation Problems?

pacific birdI want to expand on the baah-sil issue that Yankeebean started.  Sometimes in my outreach work I conduct some healthy eating demos.  So I spend quite a bit of time talking about food.  I learned very quickly that in order not to repeat myself or constantly answer questions about home (which does sometimes make me homesick) it is easier to use British pronunciation.  So I do say “baah-sil” and I say “tomahtoes”.  I even pronounce my name differently because people don’t fully hear it unless I emphasise a certain part of it.

But what happens when I spend time back home?  My American friends and family make fun of me for my “British accent”.  I promise I’m not trying to be British, or cool, or bring attention to the fact that I live somewhere else.  I just forget to translate my words into American English.  Even on this blog I struggle deciding whether to spell in English or American.

Does anyone else experience this?

'It's baah-sil'

avt_emiliabethj_large2I love mozarella tomato and basil everything.  Sandwiches, salads, paninis, whatever.  This is what happens whenever I mention it.

ME: “I’ll have the mozarella tomato and ‘bay-zil’, please”

British person: “Don’t you mean ‘baah-zil’?”  *insert grin previously mentioned by pacificyorkshire*

Then I bit my tounge to stop myself from saying,

“You know, believe it or not, I’m fully capable of saying what I mean.  I mean ‘bay-zil’ because I have SAID ‘bay-zil’ for the past 26 years and it’s always resulted in me getting the correct herb in my sandwiches and salads.  You know the saying ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do?’, well, I’m NOT Roman… I’m NOT English… I’m AMERICAN and I will freakin’ pronounce my words exactly how I decide to.”

This whole mind-rant takes place in about .02 seconds in my brain.

And, yes, it does happen every time someone says “don’t you mean baah-zil”.