Thursday, March 30

Divided by a Common Language

Hi Yall!
As an native of the USA, living in London, you could say that life here is quite an experience. But now the time has come for me to express just how different it is for someone of the American persuasion to live in the UK with a shocking 'New Yawk' accent.

Everyone has a comment to make.
I can't walk into a store without complete strangers saying one of the following;

1- "Oh wow. Where are you from? I have a cousin in NY, maybe you know them?"

Whoo! Okay.... You have a cousin in Manhattan and I should know them? If I was playing Jewish Geography, mayla, there'd be a chance I could know them. But just some Joe Shmo? Get real. All I wanted was a lightbulb/magazine/change for the parking meter, I did not want to get into 'friends reunited'.

2- "Are you visiting? How long for? Did you go to see the tower of London/Winsdor Castle/Buckingham Palace yet?"

Hello? I've lived here for nearly TWENTY years!!!!!! Talk about not fitting in. Plus, I've probably been to more tourist sites than a group of Brits together. You wouldn't expect Brits off the street to be so nosy, would you?

3- Then there are the people who imitate what I say. Yes, you heard correctly, you know the type of thing. My son used to torment my daughter by doing it. I get it all the time. Apparently, the way I say 'coffee' is the subject of much mirth. So much so that when I go to Starbucks, I have to order my 'cawfee' with a murderous look in my eye so no one starts up with me. (I learned that on NY subways.)

Now the flip side is that I feel very loved and cherished in jolly ole England because the average Joe on the street will call me 'Luv' or 'darlin' or 'sweetheart'. It is a proven fact that people on this Isle go to therapy much less than their American cousins. Perhaps this is why; here we get so much affirmation by strangers calling us such affectionate names that we feel completely validated as lovable beings.

It is one of the reasons I love London. Okay, so they drive on the wrong side of the street, and they sound funny, but the frum community here is amazing; involved in Kiruv and constant chessed. Except for my stalkers and the people who think I'm insane, I really love London.

For your viewing pleasure I have compiled a glossary to show you how different the English language is on this side of the paddling pool;


Useful to know when traveling:
Bathroom = Room with bath
Boot = Trunk (of car)
Brolly = Umbrella
Dustbin = Garbage can
Pavement = Sidewalk
Rubbish = Garbage
Toilet = Bathroom

Useful to know when eating out:
Aubergine = Eggplant
Bill = Check (as in restaurant)
Biscuit = Cookie
Chips = French Fries
Courgette = Zucchini
Crisps = Potato Chips
Lemonade = Soda
Nice = Delicious
Serviettes = Napkins

Useful to know when shopping:
Lift = Elevator
Jumper = Sweater
Pants = Underpants
Pinafore = Jumper
Trousers = Pants
Queue = Line (to pay)
Cheers = Thanks

Useful to know for Shidduchim:
Clever = Smart
Gorgeous = Good personality
Smart = Well put together
Stunning = Gorgeous
Sweet looking = Cute

Arsenal Football Club = Avodah Zora
Bob's your uncle = That's it then
Doctors surgery = Doctors office
Whatsits = Thingimigig
Mobile phone = Cell phone
Post = Mail
To let = For rent

One sentence, two meanings:
I'm mad about the flat.
British meaning: I'm crazy about the apartment
American meaning: I'm angry about the puncture

Well boys and girls, that's it for today. Pip, pip, cheerio, and all that jazz!


At 2:21 PM, Blogger jemima3 said...

correction: Man U = Avodah Zora

At 4:43 PM, Blogger HanginUp said...

I enjoyed your GLOSSARY OF ENGLISH TERMS. I am involved in shidduchim here in the US and it's so funny how if a person tells a guy that a girl is gorgeous ... the girl IS stunning but if you tell a guy that a girl has a GREAT PERSONALITY ... they run for the hills 'cuz the girl is "butt ugly". I kinda like the UK for that - you are all just a "friendlier" bunch -

At 5:15 PM, Blogger kishmech said...

too funny!
You've lived here for 20 years and the accent hasn't changed, that's quite a feat. It's boring when everyone's the la difference!

toodle pip.

At 5:26 PM, Blogger kasamba said...

Jemima: Babe, it's any team you want!

Hanginup: LOL! Do you know how much trouble shadchanim here get into when they do US shidduchim because of the term 'gorgeous'?
But it does sound much better than 'great pesonality' which you correctly defined as 'butt ugly'!

Kish: Thank you Darlin'!

At 5:33 PM, Blogger Also A Chussid said...

As a kid the African Americans (hey, have to be politically correct) I got to see on the streets in New York were not of the well mannered type. It didn’t help either the perception that a nice chasidisher kid gets of the shawartze’s from friends and family while he grows up. It all changed when I was once in England as a bucher. I was quite surprised to see African English Man (I know I didn’t use the politically correct term in England) how well mannered and polite they were.

At 6:20 PM, Blogger Y.Y. said...

good post

At 6:43 PM, Blogger kasamba said...

Also: You're right! The average dark skinned person here usually comes from the west indies. they are unfailingly polite, well mannered and well spoken.

YY: Thanks, luv!

At 8:27 PM, Blogger kishmech said...

kasamaba, you're talking on average, in general the ones with a great work ethic and will kick their sons behinds if they why (I can't believe i'm saying this) is there a crime rate associated with skin colour, hell even the police admit they pull over more black men than caucasian men!! (The term is afro carribean or jamaican or just plain black here not african english)

At 8:53 PM, Blogger kasamba said...

Hmmmm. I don't know Kish, maybe just pure racism?
After all, I'm more afraid of the british white trash, they are EVIL.

At 9:32 PM, Blogger jemima3 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9:43 PM, Blogger jemima3 said...

Its not exactly racist. Statistically, (pro rata) black people are involved in a higher percentage of gun and drug related crimes than white people - it's just not politically correct to say it.

At 10:27 PM, Blogger FrumGirl said...

I am probably guilty of the accent thing the other way around. Every time i hear a person with the british accent I get all googly eyed like... "Oooooooh I lovew that accent!!!!" Of course I dont start asking a million questions then but... I never thought it would be annoying. Oh well.

Great English/English dictionary. Thank goodness now I know to never ask for a napkin in the UK, lol.

At 11:30 AM, Blogger the only way i know said...

Very Funny -
btw - the 'terms of endearment' - ie: luv, darlin, (not honey.....that's what they say in NY....or Ma'am - lol) - also makes me feel all cozy and loved!!
I use endearments to others too - brightens up the day, I think - mine and theirs! lol

You know what I really like about London.....the great service in the stores...everyone is sooooo obliging!!

Anyway, Honey-Bunch - gotta go
Shabbat Shalom
Keep us rolling....
Oh - and hold that 'Evil laugh' don't want to scare hubby away too soon

At 12:46 PM, Blogger Pragmatician said...

Too funny, I can't believe adult people actually repeat after you, but well I suppsoe you got used to it by now.
I learned a mix of English and American in school, so this glossary is very reminiscent of class…. not good.
Can't you fake a British accent like so many American actors do?

At 1:26 PM, Blogger the only way i know said...

Funny about Prag's comment - copying an English accent.
When we were kids - we tried getting our mom to say things in an American accent - unsuccessfully - she's Israeli -

These days - my kids try to get me (American in London) to say things with a real English no avail - lol
Although - I could probably fool an American who doesn't live here.

At 1:50 PM, Blogger kishmech said...

"Hmmmm. I don't know Kish, maybe just pure racism?
After all, I'm more afraid of the british white trash, they are EVIL."
You're right....although my fear isn't racist and doesn't discriminate by colour. I'm really surprised with myself, normally I'm very fair, and i advocate giving everyone a fair chance etc etc always sticking up for underdog yada yada
But.......sometimes it's ok to say things, simply because to spite the politically correct police, I don't know bout the states, but here it's a veritable thought police. It's getting ridiculous.

"Its not exactly racist. Statistically, (pro rata) black people are involved in a higher percentage of gun and drug related crimes than white people - it's just not politically correct to say it."
Today i'm not politically correct. Not enough energy.

At 3:07 PM, Blogger Tomboy said...

Your blog is a painful one to read. It hurts, by Joe.
Regardless, I laughed at the idiosyncrasies. I used to make similar lists when I lived in the UK.
Wishing you survival!
Take care.

At 3:27 PM, Blogger kasamba said...

Jemima3- it just dawned on me- are you in the UK???

Frumgirl; In the beginning it was fun, I sort of felt like a celebrity. But then it got to the point where I couldn't stop for anything quickly because the sales assistant always wanted to increase anglo-american relationships- which I really don't have time for!!
In the states my kids love that the americans love their accents, and considering I married Hubby for his, I think it will stand my kids in good stead should they wish to date americans!

Tomboy: Thanks so much for stopping by! If that's you in the picture Beli Ayin Hara, you are stunning! Thanks for your kind wishes!

At 3:34 PM, Blogger kasamba said...

Prag: LOL! No matter how hard I try I am really 'rubbish' at imitating the english accent!

Theonlyway: Good Shabbos too, Sheifele! And you're probably right about the evil laugh!

Kish: Sweetiepie, maybe you're right. Maybe my thought processes have to be recalibrated, because I have been brainwashed by the 'vast machine'!

At 6:04 PM, Blogger Shlomo said...

Try moving to the midwestern US. My coworkers goad me into saying the special NY words such as coffee, dog, walk, water, etc.

I don't mind it at all really. It keeps me from fully assimilating into the dull dreary boring midwest outlook.

At 6:23 PM, Blogger MUST Gum Addict said...

Great post!

Even here in NY, I get comments about my brooklyn accent. And just this week when in CA, I provided people with much entertainment by repeating phrases like "I'm walkin' here!" and "you got a problem wit dat?" and "fuggeduboutit!"

At 11:01 PM, Blogger kasamba said...

SL Aronovitz: You're right, I should look on the bright side; I haven't assimilated just yet!

Must; LOL!!! Isn't it a big zchuss to amuse people??

At 3:54 AM, Blogger Eshet Chayil said...

git vuch. and you know..the lingo I've been catching here and

About people asking if you know someone...I HATE that. Oh! you live in NY? Do you know rivky? Rivky what? Oh I can't remember the last name but her name is rivky and she has a borther avi. Yeah...that helped.

At 5:07 AM, Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

Very cute...
We had a guest once from London...who asked us where the Services are..
I gave him directions to the shul 2 blocks away..and his jaw hit the floor..


At 7:15 PM, Blogger Limey2001 said...

Speaking of hanging up, a friend of mine was engaged to an american and they where chatting for a bit and the english party says "ok lets break it off"..... (meaning i gotta go speak to you tommorow...) the poor chap turned white ...he thought ... OMG (i heard this from his mum)

At 8:56 PM, Blogger kasamba said...

Eshet; and everyone else just thought I was whiney! Hubby has a novel way of dealing with the 'do you know'- he says 'of course I know them, they are my aunt's second cousin's nephew's in laws!'

David: LOL!

Limey; How funny is that? Ok not for that guy...
The difference in language can really cause problems especialy when it comes to shidduchim. American guys hear an english girl is gorgeous and they think they are going to see Claudia Schiffer and instead they end up with a girl ....with a good personality. I'm sure you get the gist!

At 3:37 PM, Blogger Limey2001 said...

got a fag, kas?

At 4:10 PM, Blogger kasamba said...

Limey:How would THAT go over in the US???? HA!

For those of you less versed;
In the UK- you'd hand Limey a cigarette.
In the US- you'd hand Limey your hairdresser.
Ahhh... so much to teach...

At 4:31 PM, Blogger tafka PP said...

Great dictionary- allow me to lower the tone? Yesterday I was telling some (frum) American friends about how at school my best friend always used to get rubbers thrown at her.


That aside, I generally pride myself on a fluent command of American English- and it took me longer to learn than Hebrew!

At 5:55 PM, Blogger kasamba said...

Tha Artist Formerly; LOL!
I still cringe when my kids tell me, "Mum, I need more rubbers!"

Once again for the clueless;
Rubbers in the UK means 'erasers'.

At 4:30 AM, Blogger HanginUp said...

YES!!! That IS funny Limey - I only recently heard that expression ... can imagine how SHOCKED I was when a chassidish UK relative of mine asked a friend if he "can spare a fag for the evening" ... Oh my, I thought that Brokeback Mountain had visited Stamford Hill!!

At 5:51 PM, Blogger kishmech said...

kasamba......isn't a rubber.....a condom?

i think you mean those rubber things on top of shoes for the rain.....yeah you mean that. lol phewww.

At 6:02 PM, Blogger kasamba said...

Kish of course I meant that .... or did I? Hmmm

At 7:59 AM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

My mother's college roommate has lived in London for almost 40 years now and she still is routinely asked how long she is going to be on holiday.

At 9:44 AM, Blogger kasamba said...

OMG< you mean this NEVER ends!!!!! You mean unless I botox my upper lip completely still and start to speak clipped, I will keep getting these comments!!!!!!
I think I should start packing now.

At 7:31 AM, Blogger Shopaholic said...

LOL! love your Glossary! Being American in an English family I grew up with mixed language, when i was younger and I'd be at a friends house and I would ask for a seviette and they would all look at me real strange!!
How about this one-
Do you LAY the table? Or do you SET the table? lol!

At 11:44 AM, Blogger kasamba said...

OOOh I forgot that one!!!!

At 4:14 AM, Blogger Frum but Thinking said...

lOOOl... as having a ZILLION assorted foreign friends I knew everyone of those!

But I hust remmebered when my roommate told me her mom was sending her a pinafore and I started cracking up! (Obviously before I knew what it meant!)

At 2:16 PM, Blogger kasamba said...

Frumbutthinking; I know! How dumb is the word 'pinnafore'?!!!!!

At 2:22 PM, Blogger ~ Sarah ~ said...

totally enjoying your blog (catching up on past posts!)

and we also drive on the other side of the street here and we talk funny (being part of the commonwealth, an english colony etc).

whenever i was overseas i also got the accent thing (all the questions and shrieks and 'say something!') and it really gets irritating! not that half the people would actually know where australia was on a world map :P

when i was in sem my american roommate and i compiled a glossary of terms so we'd understand each other and avoid confusion. the list got really, really, really long!

At 3:10 PM, Blogger kasamba said...

Sarah: Thank you!
It's funny how Americans confuse the Austrailian accent with the the British one!

At 6:48 PM, Blogger the sabra said...

woulda made my trips to the UK a wee bit easier if i woulda read this list BEFORE my visits.

see ya!

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