Musings of an Englishman who literally quit his life in Devon in mid-2012 to move to Tijuana to love a girl.
They ended up in San Diego where he became a TV anchorman (yes really...), they got married, and now they're living in England together.
Simple as that really.
Follow your heart, who knows where it will lead.

Crazy. Beautiful. Madness.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The 'Britionary'

Note to self: When talking to American friends/colleagues, never, EVER say: “I’m just popping out for a fag…”
While my English friends will understand the true meaning of this sentence, people here will take an entirely different meaning from it.
And believe me, it’s not good.
Not a day passes when I – as a Brit – seem to say something which is deemed to be a). ridiculous; b). hilarious; or c). just plain weird.
For the past nine months living and working here in San Diego I’ve been a constant source of entertainment – which probably explains why I’m on TV.
Language is the very glue which holds society together.
Without it, things break down, so you have to adjust.
And I, hosting not one but two TV shows to an American audience, have had to adapt to survive.
It’s no good looking the part if no-one actually understands you right?
I must admit, I rarely get recognized out and about in San Diego but when I do those people often say something along the lines of “that’s that guy on the TV that talks weird...”
I can’t tell you how annoying it is, day-after-day, to be told that the way I talk, write or spell is “wrong”.
I’m a journalist – an award-winning one at that. I’ve been writing articles for like 16 years so I’m used to having my copy edited for print.
I’m not ‘wrong’ in the way I communicate, I just do so differently.
And I’m not just talking about the way I communicate in work. It’s at the supermarket, it’s in the phone store, it’s on the bus, it’s in a bar or in a Subway. It’s everywhere.
Sometimes I feel like pointing out that the ‘English’ language originally came from… (I’ll give you a clue – it wasn’t Mississippi).
But then of course I’d come across as being a typical Englishman thinking I’m better than the rest.
*swimming against the tide here pal.
Anyhow, like I said... I've had to adapt and incorporate certain 'Americanisms' into my own language.
So if you do notice me stumbling from time to time while reading the news, you'll understand that it's because I'm saying words I've never said before, in an order I've never said them!
It seems even my keyboard which I’m typing this very blog on, is against me.
With each new sentence or word it wants to correct me because it thinks the English words I’m writing are meant to be spelt in the American-English way.
Living and working in the U.S. is just not easy for a foreigner.
The British and the Americans are very similar, but we’re very different at the same time.
Everything I’ve ever known is almost the same… it’s just called something different or it’s labeled differently.
Here they have ‘T.J. Maxx’, not ‘TK Maxx’ as we know it.
'Nike' is pronounced 'Nikee'.
Firefighters ‘put down’ flames rather than ‘put them out’.
A house isn't 'burgled' here, it's 'burglarised'.
'Bangs' is a 'fringe' (as in hair).
A 'gas station' is the equivalent of our 'petrol station'.
An 'ATM' is a cash machine. 'ATM' is also... oh... never mind.
A 'cell phone' is a 'mobile phone'.
The date is written in a way that has the month FIRST rather than the actual day's date.
More often than not the Americans seem to pronounce them ‘vee-hickles’ rather than simply ‘vehicles’.
The term ‘scrummage’ in rugby is called ‘scrimmage’ in American football.
A hashtag, or ‘#’, is known as the ‘pound sign’ when of course we British know the ‘pound sign’ as being !@#$%^&*()_ - nope, my keyboard doesn’t actually have the pound sign installed as a key.
Another thing I’ve learned about our U.S. cousins is that they simply don’t understand the concept of ‘mushy’ peas.
“So… they are peas that have been flattened and ‘mushed’ up right?”
Um, yes… I guess.
“Why not just buy normal peas and flatten them with a fork?”
They’re not the same.
You know, I just don’t know.
In the States people also measure weight in pounds.
This led to a rather bizarre, but funny, conversation last month when someone asked me what we British weigh ourselves in.
“Stones,” I said.
“You actually weigh yourselves in STONES?!”
Er… not the stones you’re thinking of mate… we have progressed a little since the Stone Age.
I can imagine that the move to the States a few years ago suited David Beckham more than most as he never really had a grip on the English language in the first place...
"Our problem is our ignorance," an American colleague told me.
"Living in the 'United States of America' we don’t really need to adapt. Generally we all talk the same… We're just not really used to looking anywhere else but within.
"We don't generally deal with anyone else. And that makes us ignorant."
We laughed and joked about it, but he's ultimately right.
And the same can be said for the English.
In one of his celebrated shows the British comedian, Eddie Izzard, made light of the fact that the English are known to travel abroad to places like Spain and France and simply talk ‘English’ expecting the local people to understand and reply.
Of course when the local people don’t understand, the English response is typically “well, you’re just not trying are you…?”
In a bid poke a little fun at my own expense, and to educate a few people over here, I invented the ‘Britionary’ a little while ago.
We did a whole series of them on U-T TV.
Here are a few:

As frustrating as this language barrier can be, it is - like I said - a constant source of amusement as I and my American pals learn from each other.

There is also no end to banter, especially after a few drinks.
Or Salute!
Or bottoms up!
Or whatever the hell it's referred to here.

Happy new year everyone.

Twitter: @tristan_nichols

No comments:

Post a Comment