Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Tea and biscuits, anyone? (spoken with a British accent)

British people. Why are they so darn fascinating? They're technically European, but they speak English. They speak my language, but with a sophisticated twist. And they produce people like the John, Paul, George and Ringo. What more could you want in a country?

This past Sunday, I spent the day at Bizarro Mom's (whom I'm now officially allowed to call by her first name). Some new people from the church were also there... three were from GB, and two of the three couldn't speak much German. Throughout the entire day, there was a fascinating mixture of German, British English (BE) and American English (AE). Until Sunday, the only exposure I'd had to British people was on Beatles Airways and in the London and Manchester airports.

The difference between BE and AE is more drastic than I'd realized. They even use different prepositions!! For example, Harry* said that "A is different to B." We would say "different from" or "similar to", but not "different to."

Some of the sentence structures even differ, though I can't recall any examples at this point. I do remember noting that the structure was more similar to German than to AE.

On Sunday, I learned not only some new German words (as I do every day), but some new English words. For example...

BE: chips = AE: french fries (or is it now freedom fries?)

I discovered that one when Gladys* said that she was "baking chips in the oven." Why would anyone bake chips? Then again... I was amidst Germans and Brits, so who knows what crazy stuff could happen?

BE: crisps = AE: chips

Does Paul McCartney really say "crisps" instead of "chips"?

BE: biscuits = AE: cookies

Mmm, now I want tea and cookies. And I'd like to take delicately small sips while holding the cup with my little pinky finger pointed elegently outwards.

BE: nappy (nappie?) = AE: diaper

Who came up with that one?

Be: peg = AE: clothespin

This actually makes sense...

Also, they pronounce the words "paw", "poor" and "pour" the same. Sure, in AE we pronounce "poor" and "pour" the same... but at least we differentiate between these two and "paw." They do not, however, pronounce "rider" and "writer" the same, as many AE speakers do. Thank goodness the Beatles wrote their lyrics down for us Americans... otherwise we wouldn't know if "Paperback Writer" was actually "Paperback Rider." Though there are some obvious contextual clues.

'Twas an interesting afternoon... I was also surprised at how well everyone spoke English (I'm not referring to the Brits and myself here)... Bizarro Mom's English was great, as was her son's (who spent a year in Canada... is Canadian English similar to AE? to BE?) and several other people's from the church.

Though I now realize that Tony Blair and I speak a rather different language, he's still my international political crush. *sigh*

Lyric of the day: "If you really like it you can have the rights; it could make a million for you overnight. If you must return it, you can send it here... but I need a break and I want to be a paperback writer. Paperback writer." (Thanks to the Beatles!)

*name changed to protect privacy

No comments: