It’s all English to me…

It was recently pointed out to me that I speak wrong. I mean, I speak right if I lived in the UK, but not correct for north America.

Apparently when an American has an injury and needs rehabilitation, he goes for physical therapy. Here, up in Canada we call it Physiotherapy, or just physio. I have no clue what they call it in England.

Suspenders – we called them braces growing up. Suspenders were never to be mentioned – in the UK it means a garter belt… and Pants are what you wear under your trousers.

Now, there is a lot of slang phraseology that just doesn’t translate – when you’re a Londoner and you ask some one to “give us a butchers at that” – you are asking for a look at something, but using cockney rhyming slang. Butcher’s hook rhymes with look.

While over for Friday night dinner at an old chum’s house (he went to Hasmo with my brother) we cracked up over a tray of gaily decorated cupcakes. I asked him, “Lawrence”, I said, “what did we call these growing up”….he racked his brain, and said he didn’t know. I reminded him. Fairy cakes. Much laughter ensued. Yep, muffins and cupcakes, we called fairy cakes.

In England a solicitor is someone involved in the legal profession with a limited ability to address court, here its someone who is trying to get money out of you for their cause (hmm, doesn’t sound too different to me), and a barrister is a solicitor that can address higher courts. Here attorney and lawyer suffice.

Of course there’s also the car terms – bonnet is the hood of a car, and the trunk we call the boot. Gas is petrol, and what you call a motorhome, we call a caravan. A truck is a lorry to us, and the highway is the motorway. You drive with your turn signals on – I use my indicator. You talk about tires, we spell them tyres. If you need to fix something you guys use a wrench. I only know what a spanner looks like.

We go to the chemist to pick up our medicine. Having an argument with someone, we call having a row. (rhymes with OW!) or sometimes I have heard it called an argy bargy. You go to the movies, we go to the cinema. When you call me on the phone and my line is busy, if you were British you would know the line was engaged.

We take the lift up to our flat, you take the elevator to your apartment, where the chips that I would prepare to eat you would call French fries, while your chips I call crisps. If you want fish sticks in England you have to ask for Fish fingers. I bet you didn’t know fish had fingers!! A US zucchini is a British courgette. If you want to have dessert once your main course is over, in UK its called pudding even if its fruit. Sometimes it is called “afters” too. A sandwich is slangly referred to as a butty or a sarnie.

My favourite British vocab is when you call each other names. A berk, a prat, a tosser – there are no equivalents in North America, in my humble opinion. Then there is eejit, git, pillock, plonker, wally….

I could go on and on – if you want more, just ask……

I am off for a fry up, and then I’m gonna put me feet up and have a nice brew.

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  1. Jack says:

    Keep reading blogs and we’ll learn youse real good.

  2. hadassahsabo says:

    i must add, watching my Coronation street helps me keep up with the language, altho i am starting to sound like a northerner!

  3. ladylockandload says:

    Gotta love them Britts!

  4. Yonit says:

    DH and I are forever finding new ways to misunderstand each other. We truly are a people seperated by a common language! For the longest time I couldn’t figure out what to call a jumper if a sweater was a jumper, what’s an American jumper? MIL came to the rescue and said pinafore might cover it (close, but not 100%). I should be able to list it as a foreign language since I can have a giraffe with the best of them even when cream crackered!

  5. hadassahsabo says:

    Yonit – you crack me up. pinafore sounds about right – but what do you yanks call dungarees?

    for all those wondering waht the heck Yonits last sentence said, it was summat like this : I should be able to list it as a foreign language since i can have a LAUGH with the best of them even when KNACKERED.(exhausted)

    alright, then!

  6. frumgoth says:

    Great post, and very informative! All these years reading harry potter and i thought they were consuming actual pudding after each meal – lol

  7. hadassahsabo says:

    frumgoth – how were you supposed to know? i loved your comment, cracked me up.

  8. frumgoth says:

    my cousin and her family live in england, and when they visited last yr. we were discussing where her daughter was applying for “university”. Isn’t there a slang word for that too in Britspeak? I can’t remember what it was…

  9. hadassahsabo says:


  10. frumgoth says:

    yeah, that was it! So different from how we just say plain old college.

  11. hadassahsabo says:

    its amazing, frumgoth, how much i can get accomplished if i make my english accent stronger when i have a call to make. they take me far more seriously. i could say the same thing as someone else, but with a british accent it seems to carry more weight in USA. weird, eh?

  12. frumgoth says:

    Yes, i think that it is associated with a higher level of intelligence, culture, etc. And alot of women love british men and their accents! there’s just something about it…

  13. Ruthie says:

    I loved this piece, Hadassah and am forwarding it to my American friends! I surprised myself by the number of American English words that I’m familiar with!

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