Several times I’ve heard the expression that the USA and UK are two countries separated by a common language, and on a few occasions I have found it to be true.
Even after living here almost a year, and remembering conscientiously to add the superfluous ‘U’ to color and favor, I still made a large faux pas. I asked my male coworker where he thought I could buy a pair of cheap suspenders. To wear at the weekend. And also a pair for my partner. He politely responded M&S, and everyone else just stared. Fair enough. I realized about 30 seconds later that the word I should have used was BRACES, and that suspenders are apparently a type of lingere.
We also can’t forget the time I learned that double fisting does NOT mean holding a drink in each hand in England, the way that it does in America. And that a growler is not just a large container of beer. (I’m not explaining either here. The Internet and urban dictionary can help you).
I am, however, savvy enough to know NOT to use the term fanny pack as it also has a different meaning. Use bum bag. Or don’t say it at all. Are fanny packs even a thing anymore?
I still cringe a bit internally when I hear the word ‘fag’ on a regular basis, even though here it refers innocuously to a cigarette and I still get aubergines and courgettes mixed up. I know one is an egg plant and the other a zucchini, but which is which?
I know now that two fingers here is like the middle one in America, and though I can’t use them with a straight face, I definitely enjoy British curses. (You bloody knob, pillock, etc).
So here’s to more vocabulary words and less social mishaps. As the Brits would say, cheers!
What’s been lost in translation for you?