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Little Differences

Time February 13th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I’ve tried to remember as many of the little differences as I can between English and American culture. Here are the main one’s I’ve noticed so far:

Words:
American vs. British

Trunk (car) vs. Boot
Elevator vs. Lift
Biscuits vs. Cookies
Cell Phone vs. Telly
Mail vs. Post
Call (a person on the phone) vs. Ring
French Fries vs. Chips
Chips vs. Crisps
“Have a good day!” vs. “Cheers!” or “Cheerio!”
Friend vs. Mate (apparently not just an Australian thing :0)
To Rent (apartment vs. To Let
Grilled Cheese vs. Cheese Toastie
Line vs. Queue

I’ll add others as I think of them. But overall, adjusting to English culture hasn’t been that difficult. Sometimes I forget I’m the foreigner and find it funny when they can’t understand my accent. It takes me a minute for my brain to digest the fact that I’m the one with the accent…not them.

As far as accents go, I can distinguish where people are from, for the most part. People from southern England, especially London, have a more westernized accent that is really easy to understand. The others British people often call them “posh.” Those from northern England can be harder to understand, especially when they are speaking quickly or in a big group. People from Wales and Scotland have distinct accents too…but I think the easiest ones to pick out are the Irish. Their accent, in my opinion, is by far the best! I haven’t purposely tried to pick up on an accent yet, mostly for the fear of failing horribly! :0) But I do notice every now and then a word slips out that has a British sound to it. Secretly, I would love to come home with a full-blown British accent, but I want that to happen naturally. We shall see!

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This post is about Heather choosing her words carefully

Time March 30th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hi Readers!

I have been keeping a list of some of the things that I say differently. A lot of times, people give me the benefit of the doubt because Lancaster has a very diverse student population. Usually I don’t get corrected, though sometimes my friends find it funny enough to say something.

  • I am writing an essay, and not a paper. Though in The States I would use both interchangeably, I get mocked here for saying paper (because they think of newspaper). Lovingly mocked, but still, mocked. And actually I’ve written one essay, have another one due Friday, and another due right after break. Not that much work, but these are worth 50% of my grade!
  • You bring vouchers in to a restaurant to get a 2-for-1 deal. I don’t even know if they use the word coupon.
  • The word “bangs” makes my friend Kate, from Manchester, laugh every time I say it! The word is “fringe”.
  • So. Aluminum/Aluminium. Yeah. There’s an issue there. That one actually almost became a fight…
  • During my baking exploits (because I do love to bake) I walked into a Sainsbury’s looking for baking soda so I could make chocolate chip cookies. I knew there were other names, so I knew to maybe be on the lookout for “soda” or some other variations of that, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Eventually I went and asked a worker where to find it. He led me right back down the aisle I was in and points to something and says “Um, I think this is it.” Well, I thanked him for his help and ignored the fact that he had just pointed me to baking POWDER, which is definitely not what I needed. Luckily I looked around because behind the front row, I found was I was looking for: “sodium bicarbonate, sodium hydrogen carbonate, or bicarbonate of soda.” Also, the vanilla was really expensive, but it’s SUCH good vanilla.
  • Powdered sugar is called Icing sugar here. It’s really difficult to guess here, because in the US, they would usually have it in a plastic bag, and here they sell it in boxes, so you can’t just look in to make sure it’s the right thing.
  • Oh, side note: Get used to printing things on A4 sized paper. It’s a little bit skinnier, and a few inches longer than legal sized paper, which is the standard in the US. Usually the printer is smart and will just shrink/stretch your document to fit onto it, but to get a more professional looking paper you’ll need to change your page layout settings in Word.
  • I was told that when writing an essay, I should just pick either British spelling or American spellings and stick with it. So that’s what I tried to do. It was difficult as I was writing about “behaviour” in “organisations” so pretty much every citation I had needed to be altered. I’m not sure how my lecturer is going to grade that, hopefully she’ll remember that I’m a foreign student and have pity.
  • I asked the city librarian for directions to the theater, and she asked, “Well which one?” and I was thinking to myself, “come now, Lancaster isn’t THAT big” but I said “Well, just the main one, you know, the one that isn’t Duke’s [which is a “playhouse”- they only have 2 screens, show little indie films and plays and such]” and she’s like “well I don’t know which one you mean.” I was so confused how she didn’t understand what I was saying. Luckily, there were some girls that were just heading home and they said they’d show me where it was. They told me to be careful because “cinema” is the movie theater, and a “theater” is for plays. This was a very strange interaction because usually people know what I mean, but they feel the need to correct me anyway. She just genuinely didn’t understand me!
  • Lastly, I am contracting an accent, very slightly. I noticed it even in the first two weeks, because I had to modify the way I ask questions. It’s different here, just the intonation- which word of a sentence has the stress on it. I couldn’t tell you exactly which accent I’m speaking in, because my best friends are from Aberdeen [in Scotland], Morecambe [the next town over], Reading [which is wayy south], Manchester [about an hour from here, but Kate’s accent is the thickest I’ve heard yet (besides the Liverpool accent!)], and South Africa. I probably speak mostly with a Northern accent though. I hope I don’t lose it too quickly once I’m back in the states!

    DFTBA!

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