Monday, September 13, 2010

English Development.

I've been here in LA now for nearly 2 years and the locals still struggle to understand my speech patterns.  That's still an improvement.  When I first arrived, understanding me was beyond a struggle.

Here are my top 3 misunderstandings:

1.  Once, I ordered a skinny decaf latte for Lynn at Starbucks and she was given a chilled vanilla latte thing.
2.  Maytag sent me a card to rate their service and addressed it to Mock Twagel.
3.  I was chatting to a guy at the checkout of Trader Joes for quite a while, mostly about London.  Then I told the guy that my card didn't seem to be swiping properly and he replied, "I know, but eventually you'll get so used to the hot weather, that you'll think it gets, like really cold in the winter."  At least I think we'd been talking about London, now I can't be certain of the conversation he thought he'd had.

Now I'm starting to get push back from friends in the UK.  Apparently, I'm using American words and my accent is weakening.  I don't think that's a bad thing.  My boys are growing up here, so why confuse them when their at home?  It's confusing enough here, without having to speak differently to your parents.  I should know, my parents are English and brought me up in Scotland.  At school I was ridiculed for my English accent and then at home I was told to lose my low class Port Glasgow brogue.  So I'm no stranger to feeling like the stranger.

Our 7 yr old spoke full-on Californian after a week at school.  He uses the word 'dude' without the irony or self consciousness that a Londoner should.  We used to ask him to say "Harry Potter" when we were in London, just so we could marvel at his London accent. "Arry Pota."

As for younger chap, his first use of an American accent was with the phrase, "I caan't!"  The rest of the time he mostly sounds a bit Shrek-like.  His pre-school teachers were always asking him to say, "Donkey!"  In fact, his main preschool teacher last year was an Essex girl, so no wonder his accent is still very mixed up.

Lynn's had a much easier time of it.  First of all she's had voice training, and second she gets to practice every day at work.  However, if she ever gets time off, then by the end of the week she's talking like she's back in Cumbernauld.

And so to my latest error/conundrum...  Theatre has only one spelling in the UK.  Here, it seems as though 'Theater' is for movie theaters, but not for arty plays where it is 'theatre.'  Though some folks tell me that 'Theater' is the building and 'Theatre' is the dramatic piece.  In fact, it's a bit like when I asked lots of people for the rule at 'Stop' signs, every time I asked I got a different answer.  All the different answers, have kept 'Stop' signs really exciting for me.

So I've set up www.OneHourTheater.com because I was completely unaware and just assumed 'theater' was the American spelling.  Maybe I should have called it OneHourTheatre.com or 1HourTheater.com or 1HourTheatre.com.  I still don't know.  So I figure I'll say I'm  just following a 'do it first, and ask forgiveness after' philosophy.

I had thought I was doing ok with writing American, but the spell checker can only help color your text with American spelling, and now I realize real humor is contained in the dual-meaning of words.  Rubber, fag and jumper to name but a few.

So I thought I'd start a list of the words I'm having to use:

Diaper - it's a nappy.
Line - it's a queue.
Eggplant - it's an aubergine
Hood - it's a bonnet.
Trunk - it's a boot.
Truck - it's a lorry.
Attorney - it's a blood sucking.... sorry lawyer or solicitor,
Cookies - they're biscuits.
Crib - it's a cot.
Mom - she's called Mum.
Popsicle - I think it's rude.
Loser - he who gives up...