Let’s not beat around the bush. When an English guy hears he’s going off to live in New York this is exactly what he hopes and prays America will be like…
I’ve pretty much been walking around saying ‘bottle’ repeatedly.
Now, unfortunately, I haven’t had tons of women smothering me everywhere I go, yet. But, I was able to regale my friend with this juicy bit of gossip:
ME: So I was in this bar and I asked these two girls where the toilet was.
ME: And they said “Oh are you English?” And I said “Yes!” And they said. “Oh cool. So how was your day?”
FRIEND: Ok… Then what?
ME: Well then I said, “My day was good thanks, hope yours was too.” And then I went to the toilet because I was bursting.
FRIEND: And that’s… it? That’s your anecdote.
ME: Yes! But they started a conversation with me! They asked me how my day was. In all the bars and all the clubs I’ve been to in the UK that’s not happened, girls don’t ask me questions. Not the sober ones. Normally I’m floundering about or going ‘errrr’ or something while looking at my shoes or a coin on the floor.
FRIEND: You’ve been single a while now, right?
ME: Yes, why do you ask?
There is definitely an ‘English’ factor and many have verified it as a plus which is fantastic news. I assumed that everyone would understand me easily but actually a lot of people mishear or ask me to repeat stuff every day. It shows how important tone and pitch is when we speak and because I accentuate different bits or speak in the different accent I’ve definitely been met with a lot of blank stares, more than I was expecting.
On the whole of course it’s the same language and it’s like everything’s just tweaked left a bit. We watch so much American TV you kind of absorb things and they watch UK stuff too so there aren’t loads of massive shocks just tiny frictions. Their eggplant is our aubergine. Our funny bone is their crazy bone. What we call rocket, they call arugula. My boss had a nightmare finding minced beef anywhere because they call it ground beef. The other day someone found the word ‘trousers’ absolutely hysterical when I used it.
Also, when talking about my upcoming appointment at the hairdressers I, quite hilariously, joked that I might get a ‘skinhead’. Now in England that tends to just literally mean a shaven head or short haircut. Beckham got a skinhead that time. In America it turns out that’s pretty much exclusively just a term for a white supremacist and was quite a terrible statement to make. Unfortunately I was on a first date at the time with a girl who didn’t know me at all.
Another time an American colleague turned to me and said, with a deadly serious face, “Man, I had no idea what a w**ker was, until I met you.” I’ll let you decide what he meant by that.
Some words Americans don’t seem to use at all but I’ve realised I use a lot are:
That doesn’t paint me as the most elegant of voices.
Then I’ve realised that the way I talk involves many more colloquialisms or turns of phrase than I thought. Stuff like ‘She didn’t half rabbit on’ or ‘He never cottoned on’ and things like ‘I was bricking it’ or ‘they’re chalk and cheese those two’. All those will just be met with a quizzical American face going ‘Sorry, what was that about rabbits, cotton, bricks, chalk and cheese you bizarre Englishman?’
I quite like the odd quirks and eccentricities that come over and you feel a bit unique speaking a bit differently. It definitely makes you a bit proud and so I’ve noticed that, rather than hide from it I definitely accentuate my accent and become that bit more ‘quirky Brit’. We’ll see how that works out. For now I’m enjoying the differences but fiercely clinging to my English identity (dramatic seeing as I’ve been away less than a month).
Despite the ‘language barrier’ overall things are going well.
Although, and I wish I was joking, but I estimate I walk around with this in my head around 60-65 per cent of the time (it might actually be more than that).