I have a new all-time favorite difference between British & American English.
The use of the word ‘trolly’ for shopping cart amused me for weeks, and calling something ‘brilliant’ or ‘brill’ for short to describe something awesome or excellent was my favorite after that. But, nothing has tickled my funny bone quite like this one.
I was just minding my own business at a birthday at the bowling alley when the guest of honor showed me his new pair of shoes, which happened to be what we Americans call ‘high top’ tennis shoes. I said they were cool. He said they were basketball boots. What? I said, sure that I had misunderstood. Basketball boots, his mother confirmed. Seriously. Even the old classic Chuck Taylors? Yep. Basketball boots, the whole lot of them.
For some reason I found this completely hilarious. I laughed so hard my side hurt and it still brings a smile to my face when I think of it. It has the potential to be at the top for months, but I’ll keep you posted.
What’s next, soccer slippers?
Here are a few more of my favorites:
I do love the classics, like ‘torch’ for flashlight and ‘boot’ for the trunk of your car. And, of course, you call the things you pull on and zip up to cover your legs ‘trousers’ here–definitely not ‘pants’. Unless, of course, you’ve got your undergarments on over the top.
One that I find particularly descriptive is the use of the word ‘shattered’ for being totally worn out or exhausted, especially if it is stretched out and seems as if the word itself is almost too much to say.
A new friend invited my 7 year old over for “tea” after school one day and I thought, well, that’s a bit formal for a playdate, but when in Rome, right? I now know that “tea” is just their word for the evening meal. However, it doesn’t seem to matter how many times I hear it, I still envision people sitting around on fancy chairs drinking tea with their pinkies and backs perfectly straight.
I also giggled when a neighbor mum walked my son home from the play date. When they arrived at the door, she apologized for him getting a bump on his head and said she had put a “flannel” on it. Odd remedy, I thought, but I tried to keep an open mind. It obviously worked because he was fine. Thank goodness I then recalled a fellow blogger sharing that a “flannel” is what they call a washcloth, or I would have gone on thinking she had put an old shirt on his head.
They use the word “pavement” for sidewalk. This is particularly unsettling. When I hear parents telling their children to walk on the pavement I can’t help but think it is their version of the classic dismissive comment, ‘why don’t you go play in the street?’.
The phrase ‘bits and bobs’ or just ‘bits’ to describe small items or stuff in general is definitely in my top ten. For example, your ‘bits and bobs’ could be your hat and gloves, or that pile of things you need to put back where they belong, or the things rolling around in your pocket. I didn’t realize that I was missing a word for that stuff–thanks!
And if you ever want to feel right out of the loop, try calling to plan a kid’s birthday party at a farm park. I didn’t think the woman on the phone would ever stop being amazed at the fact that I didn’t know what the party game called “pass the parcel” was. If you can imagine her saying that with an English accent “poss the paahsul”, I thought for a moment that she was talking about a hands-on farm experience involving live opossums!
The fun never ends. I’ll keep you posted.