Tag Archives: America


Sometimes I think it’s silly to use up Matt’s precious vacation time going home for a two week trip.  Then I get there and see all the people we miss while we’re living 5,000 miles away and I remember why it’s important to come home occasionally.

We spent two weeks in the U.S. – we started off in MD, visited our friends in VA, made a quick stop in PA, spent one night in NY, and then finished up the trip with a few days in MA.  I called it our East Coast Tour and it was a bit of a whirlwind, but it was full of fun.

We saw family and friends, enjoyed some real summer heat, swam in the pool at Matt’s parents’, watched a baseball game, had rooftop dinner and a movie in NYC, kayaked at my parents’ lake house, played with the puppy, went to my faux 20-yr high school reunion (the real one happened in the fall), and saw all the cousins.

So. Many. Cousins.

It was so nice to travel somewhere familiar.  I wasn’t expecting that, but it was true.

We didn’t have to look for directions or restaurant recommendations.  We just went to the places we know and miss and love and loved them all the more for having missed them.

It’s funny how much you realize you love a place when you haven’t seen it in a while.

It was good to go home.

It’s Not the Same English

The single most British description of eggs ever written.

The single most British description of eggs ever written.

When we first learned that we may be heading overseas, we thought moving to England would be an easier option than moving to, say, Germany or Belgium, both of which were possible options at one time or another.

In England, we said, at least we don’t have to learn a new language.  It will be easier, we said.  Even when everything else is different, at least we’ll understand what people are saying, we said.

Except, you know, the ten times a day when we don’t.

For instance, people here call pants “trousers”.  Pants, it turns out, are underwear.  So if you say you’ve spilled something on your pants, people will look at you funny.

Sweaters are jumpers.  Jumpers are pinnys, or pinafores, if you’re being formal.

Here, cleats are boots.  Sneakers are trainers.  Uniforms are kits.  Rain jackets are called “cagoules”.  I had to ask the Deputy Headmaster (aka Assistant Principal) how to say that last one.  I still can’t use it in actual conversation because I secretly think it may not be a real word.

The children, when they go outside to play, are not in the yard, they’re in the garden.  Garden refers to the whole area, not just the parts full of plants and flowers.

I was prepared to call elevators lifts and trucks lorries.  I was aware that I’d be corrected for saying soccer instead of football.  I was ready to call french fries chips and chips crisps and cookies biscuits.

I was not ready to get a homework assignment from school that instructed Gabe to “revise” the information on a sheet, then learn that revise actually means review and learn for a quiz.  It does NOT mean to edit or re-write the information correctly.  Thankfully we sorted that out before he actually completed the assignment.

Bangs are not bangs, they’re fringe.  Bangs here are loud noises (or you’re mistaken for having referred to the less appropriate “banging”, which is a similar slang term in America, but not one we’d ever get mixed up with a hair style).

Zucchini are courgettes (with a soft “g” sound, in case you read that the way I thought it should be pronounced the first dozen times I saw it).  Cilantro is coriander.  Ground beef is beef mince.  Shrimp are prawns.  Pudding, as far as I can tell, is a general term that can refer to any dessert, whether it’s cake or pie or actual custard-like pudding.  Or, pudding can be non-dessert as well, as in blood pudding (which is eaten with breakfast and looks like some kind of very dark sausage), or Yorkshire pudding, which is actually a kind of popover covered in beef gravy and is nothing like a dessert at all.  This may explain why grocery shopping was especially stressful when we first arrived.

Just last week, Gabe was invited to go play at a friend’s house after school. The young man’s mum (with a “U” not an “O”) asked if G would like to stay for tea.  I had to ask if she could clarify, because it seemed fairly clear from the context that tea did not, in fact, mean actually drinking tea, and it wasn’t the first time I’d heard that term and thought it probably didn’t mean what I thought it should mean.  She explained that it really refers to a sort of early dinner, often for children.  In that case, I said, Gabe would love to stay for tea (since he wouldn’t actually have to drink tea, which is not his favorite).

We definitely make mistakes.  We ask lots of clarifying questions.  We’re learning though.  Every day I think I integrate some new term into my vocabulary, to varying degrees of success. 

But I will argue to my last day with anyone who says the Brits and Americans speak the same language.  It may all be English, but it’s definitely not the same language.

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