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We all speak English but we don't all speak the same language

(34 Posts)
vampirequeen Mon 16-Mar-20 13:34:55

I have a friend in South Africa and most of the time we understand each other. Then one of us (usually me) will say something that means absolutely nothing to the other. I was recently talking about having had a picnic in the car. She was flummoxed by this. To her a picnic is eaten whilst sitting on the grass or beach with the sun beating down. She couldn't imagine why we'd picnic in the car. So I pointed out that if you tried to sit outside when it's pouring with rain you'd end up with soggy sandwiches. This confused her even more. Why would we go out to picnic in the rain? Well we don't necessarily go out planning to picnic in the rain. In fact it may be lovely and sunny when we leave home but British weather being what it is we never know what it will be like by dinner time. If we waited for guaranteed warm sunny days we'd hardly ever go out grin

sunseeker Mon 16-Mar-20 13:39:53

My brother lives in Australia and in a telephone conversation mentioned he was wearing thongs! Apparently he meant flip flops. I had to explain what thongs are in UK and I now need therapy to try to get rid of the mental image grin

NotSpaghetti Mon 16-Mar-20 13:44:24

In America many years ago I saw a pair of girl’s briefs emblazoned with the local baseball team logo and the words “number 1 fanny”

Wheniwasyourage Mon 16-Mar-20 14:03:15

Slightly off topic, but vampirequeen reminded me of a South African worker we had here for a while. He kept leaving things in the office switched on overnight, but was very careful indeed with water. We had to explain that we were more concerned with saving electricity, and that water, while we were careful with it, actually falls out of the sky a lot more often here than in South Africa!

Bathsheba Mon 16-Mar-20 14:10:19

In the US, what we call bumbags are known as fanny bags, because that's what fanny means there - bum!

And aren't ink pads for rubber stamps known as tampons in the US? Or is that somewhere else?

EllanVannin Mon 16-Mar-20 14:25:55

Beware of the Aussie lingo ! I learned the hard way in 1982 when I was joining D and her friends for a BBQ one evening and that afternoon everyone was discussing what they were going to wear. I said I'd have a root in my suitcase to see if there was something suitable.
Suddenly there were peels of laughter and I didn't know what was going on when someone said " a root in your suitcase, that's novel ? " I hadn't fully unpacked.

D then explained that " root " was their word for sex ! I did see the funny side but was careful not to use the word again which meant that I did a lot of thinking before I spoke as so many of our words/sayings have different meanings there.

Witzend Mon 16-Mar-20 14:28:47

I once read an American novel that had supposedly been ‘translated’ into British English, but whoever did it evidently missed, ‘He patted her fanny 😱 as he went past.’
(Fanny being Yank-speak for bottom.).

phoenix Mon 16-Mar-20 14:30:12

An Aussie that I worked with years ago came in to the office and asked if I had any Durex shock apparently that's what they call sellotape.

Marmight Mon 16-Mar-20 14:43:25

I au paired for a French/American family in my teens . On the shopping list one day was ‘cotton’ I was a bit stumped as no colour was mentioned so I plumped for reels of white & black to be on the safe side. It transpired that I should have bought cotton wool. In the US its called cotton and cotton is thread! Duh....

Callistemon Mon 16-Mar-20 14:51:31

A friend we stayed with in NZ was a bit put out when I referred to her home as a lovely bungalow.
It's a house! Even though it is one storey.

A bungalow is a tiny cottage, apparently.

timetogo2016 Mon 16-Mar-20 15:07:58

OMG love this thread.
Can`t stop laughing and reading them out to DH.
Well done gransneters especially at this time of our lives.

Callistemon Mon 16-Mar-20 15:12:41

Would you like a yoggut, DGS?
No, Granny, it's a Yoe gut

sodapop Mon 16-Mar-20 15:55:43

Tampons here in France too Bathsheba as are Brillo pads. Our postman had a problem with his ear and said he had a tampon in it, I had visions of a string hanging out of his ear smile

vampirequeen Mon 16-Mar-20 18:35:52

I'm loving these.

lemongrove Mon 16-Mar-20 18:43:20

When in the US, never say ‘ I’m dying for a fag’ 😱

TerriBull Mon 16-Mar-20 18:56:42

Definitely don't get a lot of what goes on in the US, the number of cars we saw with a sticker "I'm a soccer mom" or "I'm a baseball/ hockey/whatever mom" was utterly baffling to me, just why would you want to drive around with such a declaration confused I've never worked out what "A Homecoming Queen" is either, but sounds like a load of bollocks a bit daft

Both the US and Australia can refer to quite sizeable outside areas as "the back yard" which kind of conjures up Coronation Street over here.

TerriBull Mon 16-Mar-20 19:05:53

I did find out what "bangs" are recently (hair related) just a simple fringe, how they came up with that one heaven knows!

Marmight Mon 16-Mar-20 19:58:01

My Aussie GC wear their ‘pants’ on the outside and their ‘undies‘ underneath. Also thongs on their feet as mentioned before. They eat chips from a packet and fries from the chip shop. Lollies are sweets and ice poles are (ice) lollies. Life can be very confusing when interacting with them!

Bathsheba Mon 16-Mar-20 22:20:33

Both the US and Australia can refer to quite sizeable outside areas as "the back yard" which kind of conjures up Coronation Street over here.

What I want to know is this: if we do gardening in our gardens, do the Americans and Aussies do yarding in their yards? grin

Bathsheba Mon 16-Mar-20 22:22:42

American women carry wallets (purses) in their purses (handbags). It gets very confusing!

Artdecogran Mon 16-Mar-20 22:27:26

Was watching an American cop programme and the witness was said to be full of spunk 😳

Shrub Mon 16-Mar-20 22:31:10

When I went to live in the US with a school aged son, other British residents told me to make sure I called rubbers 'erasers'. It worked cos I still use the word.

M0nica Mon 16-Mar-20 22:33:07

Sme years ago I worked with an Australian girl who always referred to sticky tape as 'Durex' which was the standard brand over there. We took her aside explained the problem. In a predominantly male office, she had been wondering why she kept getting these funny looks.

Callistemon Mon 16-Mar-20 23:40:21

Artdecogran I am sure we used the term 'spunky' when I was young - meaning someone full of spirit (not the alcoholic type!).

MissAdventure Mon 16-Mar-20 23:44:40

Well, I know a much cruder meaning for that word.