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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Divided by a common language...

I'm a Brit living in New Zealand and writing books for an American publisher.....

And your point is, you may be asking. Well, my point is we all speak English... Or do we????

Moving to NZ meant learning a whole new language. Who knew flip flops were called jandels? Or swimming costumes were now togs. Or trousers, pants.... vests, singlets... sweets, lollies.......

Okay, you get the picture. And of course in America there are a whole host of words that I don't understand, or don't mean the same in the US as they do to me.... I'm sure we all know about 'fanny'.... you don't??? Think front bottom and back bottom hahahahaha (UK it's the front).

I'd love to set some of my books in the USA but it bothers me that it will be obvious I don't come from there. At the moment, I'm setting them in Australia or New Zealand because even though I've only been here for 5 years I'm getting to grips with the style of speech.... courtesy of my children and their friends.

So, what words have you come across that had you stumped when you first heard/read them?

I was shocked to discover, when I moved to Oz, that people went around wearing their thongs on their feet. Of course, what they REALLY meant was flip flops!!
Hahahahahaha, Christina, that's so funny.... and conjours up such a lovely image....
Imagine how surprised I was to discover that people DIDN'T wear thongs on their feet - they wore them somewhere else entirely!!!!

I struggle with the word thing the whole time because I've lived in 3 different countries and am writing books set in a fourth. My head's hurting just thinking about it all.

ps - most recent weird word has been swifter - apparently it's some sort of mop!!
pps - please, no jokes about the fact that I'm not familiar with cleaning products!
No jokes from me..... I've never heard of a swifter either.... I don't do cleaning too....
I've never been 100% sure what a 'jumper' is across the pond. Here it's a dress that's typically worn over a shirt. I'm confused everytime I hear the word spoken in a British accent.
Crazy language confusion is one of the very fun things about being Canadian.

Being so close to the US...(and innundated constantly by TV, movies, etc from there) we don't have that many words different from American English... but we do have a few unique words, like touque and toboggan and we call a couch a chesterfield for some reason and there are a few others I can't seem to think of right now...

But the fun things are spellings... Canadian spelling is a confusing mix of US and British spelling and in some cases we pronounce it one way and spell it the other. That is, we say "Mum" but we spell it "Mom". Why? I do not know.
Alyssa, a jumper is a sweater. In UK we'd say either.

Maureen, that is strange. Would you use the word sofa?
We do use sofa, too... but I grew up saying chesterfield. Now, I understand a chesterfield is a brand (or style?) of sofa... but in Canada, for some reason, we genericized (is that a word?) it.

When my British friends make fun of this, I point out that you guys have hoovers... and have turned a brand name into a verb (hoovering).
I spent years after reading a Snoopy cartoon wondering what a Davenport was.
What is a davenport?????

Yes, we hoover... people in NZ look at us as if we're barking... they only vacuum.

Hey, but how awesome is that for your invention to be so universally accepted it becomes a verb.
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