Thursday, December 9, 2010

English Development II

My education in speaking Americanese, or more precisely Los Angelene, appears to be progressing more subtly these days.  Usually I'm understood.  Even though I don't think I'm speaking any differently, I manage to get the coffee I ordered and make appointments with relative ease.  Now, it's the nuances that catch me out.

Holidays.  In the UK, holiday means the same as vacation; though vacation would be some some kind of experience that 'Johnny Foreigner' takes part in.  The UK has bank holidays, Christmas holidays and doesn't differentiate the family summer holidays.  The word 'holidays' here however, exclusively refers to the scheduling of festivals and celebrations to induce the public sharing of insanity.  Bah Humbug! We had the same insanity sharing in the UK but, as with most things, the scale and depth are more extreme here.

Midday.  My latest find is that midday isn't considered as specific as noon is here.  Both are 12 o'clock back in the UK, and in Australia apparently, but here midday is a more fluid period in the middle of the day. Mind you, I don't think we use the word noon very often in the UK.  I think of noon as being like high noon and so I would expect to bring my duelling pistols to a meeting at high noon...  This is the wild west after all.

Just recently I found myself struggling to understand what was being said in a TV program. The accent and slang were sometimes unfathomable to me and yet the TV show was a Scottish reality TV program (this link is not for kids).  I suddenly started to understand how difficult some people find it to understand me.  Lynn and I are no strangers to not being understood.  In some of the posher areas of England it seems quite acceptable / common for people to feign that they can't understand a single word that is said with a Scottish accent.  My favorite retort was always, "I can understand you, so one of us must be stupid."  As I watched the TV, I realised that I was now residing on the stupid end of that comment...

I'm expecting that as I start to consider thinking, about maybe possibly, tentatively, looking for w*rk, that I'll start to discover a new set of new words that confuse and befuddle.  Till then, Toodle Pip!