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This is so great!!! We moved to the UK from the US about three years ago, and those first six months were quite the vocabulary adventure! It’s not just the words themselves. either; sentence structure is different too…much more like French, though I’ll not claim which side influenced the other.

  • I only noticed because I speak and am continuing studies/work in French. It is much easier to go back and forth between UK English and French via direct translation than it is between US English and French. British English also uses the same spelling as some French words, and in some cases, the word itself! There’s nothing strictly academic about this, though-merely personal observation.
  • Deborah ,yes, it’s been quite a ride! Lots of fun (somewhat challenging), and we love living in the UK! I do occasionally find myself tongue tied speaking with US friends and family, as I get confused which words they won’t know as I try to revert to US English and fail….the longer we’re here, the harder this is. Great post! So much fun to see the language variety. And to think there’s even variations between parts of Britain in some vocabulary.
  • We spend our summers in Britain. It’s so fun to hear my 5-year-old daughter talk when she’s back in America, telling her mates to queue up or asking them for a go on the swing, before yelling loudly to us “let’s go to the toilet!” then suggesting we have chips again, followed by ginger beer and chocolate biscuits.

This story reminds me of an experience my mum and I had on one of our trips to London back in the early 80’s. We took a ferry to the Isle of Wight and then a train across the island. An older lady sat across from us and talked to us the whole ride. We were pretty sure she was speaking English but we couldn’t understand a word she said.

We didn’t want to be rude so we listened and tried to make our reactions fit her facial expressions. When she was animated and looked excited, we smiled and nodded and said, “mmmm, yes” and when she frowned we looked kind of sad and said “aww.” At the end of the ride, she stood up and hugged us and smiled so we must have reacted appropriately. That’s actually one of our favorite travel memories.

You’ll find Australia a mix of the two – with our own colloquialisms. Whatever you do, don’t say you’re rooting for anyone! Nobody is named Randy, nobody! And if they were, they’d change their name before they turned 10! Then there’s a dinky di, true blue, fair dinkum tinny when its hot. Its bonza!

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