Do You Speak English?

31 07 2008

Winston Churchill once said that the Americans and British are two peoples separated by a common language. The more countries I visit, the more this seems to be true all over the globe. For better or worse, English has become the second language for most of the world.

However, I have found that an accent can make quite a difference.

About a year ago, my boyfriends rugby team was hosting a Welsh team. Obviously, after the rugby game ends its common practice to go out to a pub and celebrate with a few pints (this I think will ring true no matter where you are from). Growing up in Russia, I thought I was pretty decent at picking up linguistics and accents. Oh boy. I was wrong. I had absolutely NO clue what the conversation was going on about. I was definately pulling out the “smile and nod” strategy way more than necessary. Thinking back to this frightful (but very entertaining) night, I all of a sudden find myself a little jittery. Given – I’ll be living in London, not Wales, BUT the thought of not being able to uphold a full conversation in my native language is a bit odd, no?

Take for example: a fanny pack. A very common noun here in Canada, meaning nothing more than a pouch/wallet that you clip around your waist. I believe in England it is called a “butt pack” (confirm?). Harmless? No. Sources have told me that the word “fanny” in England actually means …ahem…a girls nether regions…ahem. Making the concept of a “fanny pack” something extremely odd and perverted.

My goal: to have my Londoner friends saying the word “eh” at the end of every sentence…If “eh” is, indeed, a word outside of Canada.

Don’t worry though, I’ll be bringing my jumpers and knickers in the boot of my bloody car.

*shoves you with elbow* Eh? Eh? Getting good, no?

Check out this VIDEO here. I need to hire her as my coach.

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5 responses

1 08 2008
Geoff

Butt pack?!. No, it’s a “bum bag”, which now I type it out is probably just as silly-sounding. And yes, Brits find the term ‘fannypack’ hysterical.

I always associate the ‘eh’ at the end of the sentence with my friends from New Zealand, didn’t realise you Canadians did it too.

1 08 2008
Anna

@Geoff: thank you for the correction – “bum bag.”
The word “eh” is definately something Canadians are known for…we tag it onto the end of pretty much all sentences. Trying to catch yourself to not to say “eh” is a task in itself.

2 08 2008
Mark H

A Canadian friend of mine tells me a story that just after he arrived to live in Australia (and settle with his girlfriend, now wife) innocently said in a bar to a girl in jest that she needed a good kick in the fanny. Her boyfriend took offence, assuming the local meaning, and it took a lot of careful explaining and back-pedalling to avoid him being severely beaten by an aggressive boyfriend.

And we are meant to speak the same language…..

3 08 2008
Anna

@Mark H: That’s one for the books! I hope I dont make the same sort of language mistakes…and get clawed at by a very aggressive girlfriend!

5 10 2008
Arrested In South Korea « Anna Goes Bananas

[…] who told her she looked liked Spiderman? Errrrmmm? Miscommunication? Please see my earlier post “Do You Speak English?” about crossed lines of communication.  Also, below is a picture of one the t-shirts they were […]

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