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The Queen’s English as a Second Language (for American-English speakers)

When visiting another English-speaking country, I love to listen to the differences in dialect  between American English and the local speakers.

An ad for Skyfall, with a London cab and the Waterloo station in the background

A few weeks ago when visiting friends in the UK I practically learned a new vocabulary.

For instance:

Pikey: the slacker kids who hang out in the park across the street

Curry: apparently, this means Indian food in general.  I always thought it only referred to actual curries.  But when your friends say, let’s get curry, they mean let’s order a whole lot of Indian food.

ha ha: the line on the park green that marks the separation between the area for commoners and landowners.  I think my friend might be pulling my leg on this one, but there it is in the picture.

You can see how the bride and groom are staying on the common side of the line.

Scrum, Grubber, Hooker, and Ruck: terms used at the rugby game.  I learned how to be a spectator and cheered for the right team most of the time, I think.

Nappy and Dummy: a diaper and pacifier, respectively.

Creme tea: this is a snack including a tea or coffee, a scone, and a huge dollop of clotted cream.

Whoopi Goldberg: how to order tea with no milk and sugar.

Julie Andrews: how to order tea with milk but sans sugar.

Brilliant: awesome, good, amazing, pretty much any positive superlative you want to add.  Or a negative one, if you’re feeling ironic.  It works for everything, and describes the great long weekend I had visiting London and Bath.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Old Jarhead #

    Good to see a post from our favorite world traveler! Was beginning to think that school work might actually be getting in the way of a good tour of duty… (ha ha) Yes, the Brits do have a different take on “English” and it can be quite fun. I’ve spent a fair bit of time with UK soldiers and Royal Marines and certainly takes time to “re-learn” the language. They say “pissed” when talking about getting drunk, vice being mad or upset. “Wobbly on my pins” can also refer to having too many pints. Not sure I fully understand the “Julie Andrews” reference. How can anyone not find the “Sound of Music lady” sweet? Perhaps that was her persona in the movies? Maybe a real ice queen in real life? Yet another one of life’s perceptions down the shitter… 🙂 What does an American in Turkey do for Thanksgiving? Would be interested to know if you can actually get a turkey, in Turkey? P.S. Michigan finally beat Iowa this weekend and has the OSU showdown this week. Did you know that OSU is undefeated this year? On probation with no chance of a bowl game, etc… but have won every game, thus far.

    November 19, 2012
    • You can buy turkey – their name for it translates to Indian turkey – hinti tavuk. But I was worried about being alone on a family holiday, so I’m off to Paris for a long weekend with friends and a potluck T-day dinner! I did fall a little behind with schoolwork – the weekend after London I did a quick trip to Vegas for my best friend’s wedding. I have a big project due, on Christmas night no less, so I feel slightly behind on preps for that too. Nonetheless, I am on the road right now, In Cappadocia, the land of the fairy chimneys. There will definitely be a post on this. Happy Thanksgiving!

      November 19, 2012

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