Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Queen's English as a Second Language Part 14

I took a break from blogging a few months ago. We moved from London to Chicago in September and I spent our last few months focusing on doing everything on my London list (post on that to follow). I have one more post of Queen's English words and a few other posts to come wrapping up our time in London.

Squidgy--soft and wet, as in "I don't think the bread is done baking, it's all squidgy in the middle."

Manoeuvred--maneuvered, as in "When I move back to America I won't know how to spell words like manoeuvred."

Shedload--a large amount, as in "I spent shedloads of money on dinner last night."

Bogeyman--boogeyman, as in "My parents told me when I was a kid to be good or the bogeyman would get me." Also, the word "bogey" is "booger" in American English. 

Caravan--mobile home or RV (Recreation Vehicle), as in "My dad wants to go caravanning as a family on holiday this summer."

99p (short for pence)--99 cents, as in "Can you believe I got this for only 99p?" Speaking of money, if something costs 4.99 you'd say "four pound ninety-nine."

Potter--occupy yourself with something pleasant, as in "I'm fine to potter about by myself."

Bruv--slang for brother, as in "Hey, you alright bruv?"

Spiffing--a very posh way of saying excellent, as in "We had an absolutely spiffing time, old chap." 

Chippie--local chip (french fries) shop, as in "I'll pop down to the local chippy."

Pernickety--persnickety, as in "This job is full of painstaking, pernickety work."

Gorgeous--delicious, as in "You've got to try this gnocchi; it's gorgeous!"

Rough Sleeper/sleeping rough--a homeless person who sleeps outside, as in "Some churches offer sections of pews to rough sleepers during the day." 

These last few are rude words and I include them to be thorough in my efforts to point out as many differences between British and American English that I can find in print. 

The "s-word" in the UK is pronounced "shy-t" and is spelled like the American version but with an "e" on the end. It is used exactly the same way, but many think it sounds a lot posher. 

Speaking of the "s-word", "shat" is the past tense version. 

Fanny baws--this is a Scottish word meaning stupid bastard, as in "Shut up fanny baws."

This last one is a group of words describing...well, I think it is self explanatory. Americans have their own list but some of these are purely British.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

So You Think You Know Britain Part 8

Shops in the UK close much earlier than in the US. Some shops close at 6pm on weekdays and earlier on weekends, if they are open at all. In the US stores are typically open 10am-9pm and some grocery stores are open 24 hours a day. 

Eggs come in a variety of sizes from 4 to 15 in a package. It is much more convenient than only being able to buy 6 or 12 at a time. 

Within the boundaries of the greater London area is the original City of London, often called "the square mile" because that is the area it covers. The square mile has its own police force (City of London Police rather than Metropolitan Police Service) and an ambassador called the Lord Mayor of London. They also have a really cool crest with two dragons (pictured in bottom left corner of the ad below).

Monopoly at McDonalds has region specific names. Instead of Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Pacific Avenues they have Regent, Oxford, and Bond Streets. 

A4 sized paper is the standard used in the UK. A4 is about 8 1/4 x 11 3/4 inches whereas the standard measurement for paper in the US is 8 1/2 x 11 inches and is called "standard letter paper" or "8 1/2 by 11." 

I recently sent a letter using a Freepost address. This is where a business pays for the postage instead of the sender. I've only seen this with business reply letters in the US but freepost seems to make a lot of sense. Instead of paying for business reply envelopes that may never be mailed back, you only pay for the letters that are actually sent.

In England and Wales you have 42 days (21 in Scotland) after the birth of your child to officially register the birth and therefore provide their name. In the US you are expected to complete the birth registration forms at the hospital and provide the baby's name then, sometimes after less than 24 hours. It can be more expensive and more of a hassle to wait to name your baby, which is why it is really common for American parents to have decided on the name in advance. 

In the US 1-800 numbers are often provided to contact a company. These numbers are free to call. In the UK these calls are 0800 numbers and can cost up to 40p a minute. I had to make some calls last month and had an additional 40 pounds added to my bill!

Alcohol sales at grocery stores in Scotland are limited to 10am-10pm. I couldn't find any clear information about whether England has similar limitations but it sounds like it might be store specific in England.

This gesture (the v-sign with the back of the hand facing outwards) is offensive in the UK and is similar to giving the middle finger. I've heard (but there is no historical backing to this) that it originated during the Hundred Years' War. The French cut off the index and middle fingers of captured English and Welsh longbowmen so they were no longer threats. Uncaptured longbowmen would make this gesture as an act of defiance to their enemy. 
This gesture is sometimes referred to as 'sticking two fingers up.' 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Queen's English as a Second Language Part 13

Bric-a-Brac--miscellaneous, as in "we pay 39 pence a kg for your bric-a-brac donations"

Trainers--sneakers, as in "I ruined my new trainers in the mud yesterday."

rather clever--very smart, as in "You think you're rather clever, don't you?"

Holiday--vacation, as in "Where are you going on holiday this summer?" This can be abbreviated to "hols" as in "I went there last year on hols." 

Bloke--guy, as in "I met a bloke from Bristol in the pub." Bloke is used when talking about someone and not to someone. So you wouldn't say "What's up blokes?"

University--college, as in "Where did you go to university?" This is also abbreviated "uni" (pronounced you-knee) as in "I haven't done that since uni." 

Buy-to-let--the purchase of a property specifically to rent it out

This next one is about grammar. In the US, we would say "KLM is offering" but in Queen's English KLM is seen as a group and therefore a plural. So they say "KLM are offering..." However, I have heard people use it either way, even the same person may flip back and forth. 

Regaine--Rogaine (I think Regaine is a better name considering the purpose of the product)

Give it some welly--give it some energy. "Put your back into it" is a phrase common in the US that essentially means the same thing.

Proper fond--really like, as in "I'm proper fond of these chips."

Getting on/getting on a bit--getting old, as in "My parents need more help as they're getting on a bit now." 

Bill sticker--someone who puts up notices or adverts. 

Dead--very, as in "He is dead sexy." It's common in the US to say "I'm dead serious" but that's about it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Things I Miss About America

I haven't struggled too much with homesickness while living abroad, but there are a few things I miss about living in the US. 

I've had "American style" pancakes at several places in London but they are missing some pretty key elements: size, heaping amounts of butter, and endless fake syrup. I do like the British way of putting jam and whipped cream on pancakes but nothing hits the spot quite like real American pancakes. 

One thing I miss that I can't find here is American sprinkles. The UK has 'hundreds and thousands' but they are a crunchy version of sprinkles. I miss soft sprinkles that are super colorful and get stuck in the grooves of your teeth. 

Also, Mexican food in America is wonderful. Cheese smothered enchiladas, fried tacos, and large portions of beans and rice. Mmmm, delicious. 

Americans love giant glasses of ice-cold water. We love ice in almost all our drinks, in fact. What I wouldn't give for a Route 44 Cherry Coke from Sonic right now. Crushed ice is the best of the best, in my opinion. 

After you've consumed 44 ounces of soda, you are going to be in desperate need for a "pit stop." I definitely miss how many places offer free toilets to the public. Gas (petrol) stations, grocery stores, rest stops along the highway...the list goes on and on. 

I miss grape Tootsie Roll Pops, still and sparkling juices, fruit snacks, and everything else grape. Grape flavored foods aren't really a thing in London. Purple Skittles and Starburst are black currant flavored and there is also black currant juice but it just isn't a good substitute for grape. 

One thing I don't miss about my life before London is driving. I hate driving, keeping up with the maintenance, filling up with fuel (petrol), washing the windshield (windscreen), and did I mention the actual driving? Even with all its faults, I love public transportation.