Life Adventures, NaBloPoMo 2014
Comments 6

Learning a new language. Still.

I have lived in the States for 11 years now and I still sometimes forget to translate words into ‘American’. Good job I don’t live in France or Germany! I wouldn’t be communicating so well if I did.

When I moved here I knew that some words were different but nothing to confuse, right?  Wrong. Lots to confuse and no, watching every episode of ‘Friends’ and ‘Sex in the City’ does not equip you with enough language ability to manage in the big wide Mid West world.

Some differences are pretty well known both sides of the pond and cause no problems like candy/sweets and Mom/Mum although I still don’t use Mom ever, I am a Mum all the way!

So let’s look at some more of these words which don’t match.  Clothing always confuses me, should I wear a vest if I want to be warm or cool?  Don’t get your pants mixed up with your trousers!  Always remember to wear your fanny-pack on your bum.


I have had some very interesting conversations which started with an innocent ‘I like the jumper you are wearing’, when in fact I had commented on a garment the person in question was not wearing.   I still call my gym shoes trainers, I am not sneaking, so I can’t say sneakers and I am not playing tennis, so they are not tennis shoes either.

I have managed the meals though, although sometimes I still refer to lunch as dinner and get a few odd looks!  If I talk about tea, I think I am expected to whip out cucumber sarnies and a clotted cream scone or two.  So I do make an effort to get the meals correct and correlating to the expected time.

When we first moved here, I was ignorant of many of the language differences and when I asked someone over the phone if he could put something in the ‘post’, we embarked on a very confusing conversation about why I would need to put something in the Evening newspaper, called ‘The Post Dispatch’ and referred to as ‘The Post’ locally.  I can’t remember if we ever understood what each other meant, maybe not!


I am still always getting Coriander and Cilantro mixed up in my own mind, especially as the dried herb is called Coriander here.   The grill/broiler took some getting used to as the broiler on the ovens here is often at the bottom of the oven and has no temperature control apart from ‘on’.  Rather than the grillI used to cook bacon in the UK which is at the top of the oven complex and can be set to various heats.


If I ever want good ole Fish and Chips in a restaurant, I always check whether the ‘chips’ are fries or crisps.  I have had Fish and Crisps and it is weird, I don’t care how home made your chip/crisps are, I need fries/chips with my deep fried fish please.  Confused?  I am!  Still.

What have I missed?  Loads I am sure.  Do you live somewhere where words mean different things but in the ‘same’ language?



  1. Fun post! My dad is Irish and there were a bunch of things he said different growing up. I don’t remember them all but I know he said rubbish. And he said bloody when he was very mad. Of course there are lot of differences just din the US too. I wonder if you noticed some on your Cape Cod trip.

    • I bet there are lots I missed too Ann! Regional differences make language even more interesting. I think ‘soda’ is called something different everywhere you go. We are hoping to visit Cape Cod next summer, I will be sure to let you know if we do!

  2. My brain exploded. I guess yours really did. I didn’t know a tank top was called a vest, and the whole lunch-dinner-tea thing I would never be able to get straight. I use the word ‘curtains’, though, because drapes sounds so old fashioned. Heh.

    • A ‘wife beater’ (the worst name for anything ever) is also called a vest in the UK….! When I was little I thought people who called ‘tea’ dinner were really posh!

  3. I can see why vest would be confusing, and I bet you get weird looks asking for a “rubber.” Ahem.

    • I know, the clothes ones are super confusing especially when I forget to ‘translate’! I still call an eraser ‘rubber’ and that is probably the one which must never be confused!!

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