Thursday, June 25, 2009

They're my words and I'm stickin' with 'em

I've had a few comments and emails about the fact that I used the word rubbish bin in my last post. I know it's called a trash can here but really, don't you think rubbish bin sounds so much nicer?

There are so many words and expressions the Brits use that I love. I've written about quite a few of those words and expressions in my posts here and here and here, and wow, here too....I guess I really do like them. Which is why I'm going to continue to use some of them. To be honest some of these words just slip out without me realizing it. Like rubbish bin. And mobile. And petrol. And surname. I can't tell you how many times in the past three weeks I've been asked over the phone for my name and I've replied, 'My surname is...' It's habit. You are never asked for your 'last name' in England, it's always your surname. Just like you never say 'to go' or 'carry out'. It's always 'take away'. My husband still makes fun of me because one of my earliest experiences in England was ordering food 'to go' over the phone from an Indian restaurant and it turned into a kind of bad Abbott and Costello routine. I think I may have cried. And I definitely hung up without ordering. I made my husband call back to place the order...he loves a challenge.

I used the word queue the other day. I love that word. It slipped right out at the DMV and the woman behind the counter gave me a funny look. She also managed to give me a new license with minimal aggravation. They pretty much do everything but take blood when you apply for a license in this state so my husband and I were pretty pleased with ourselves in obtaining ours on Saturday. Small victories.

My husband says 'Cheers' to the guy at the hotel counter pretty much every day. I'm quite certain he thinks we're hitting the sauce in our hotel room. After all, we've been living here for almost a month so he probably wouldn't blame us, but we're not. It's just a friendly way of saying thanks, bye.

Oh, and I have to laugh when I'm asked why I don't speak with a British accent. If you've been reading my blog imagining me with an accent I hope you aren't too disappointed. I'd love to have an accent but alas, growing up in the Philadelphia area doesn't give one a British accent. For the record I don't say yous guys either. That's just wrong. I did go to uni in Tennessee and picked up a Southern accent in a matter of seconds. And I've lived a lot of my married life in the south and people sometimes hear that in my speech. Uni! That's another one. That would be college to the Americans but it's referred to as university in the UK. And it's often shortened to uni. In the UK college usually means something between school and university. Or you might be talking about a school within a university...for instance Oxford University is home to 38 colleges.
Anyway, you'll continue to see some British words and phrases pop up in my blog because I like them. And because sometimes I forget where I am living. But mostly I just like them. In fact....I think they're brilliant. Told you I was going to use that word here.


  1. I especially like the work "rubbish." My oldest son likes to say that I read rubbish. He got that from a British lady who sat across from him on a train one time and comment on the fact that he was reading Dostoyevsky. She said that she used to read stuff like that but she now just reads rubbish. Hunter remarked that his mom reads rubbish, so I've been reading rubbish ever since.

  2. I love your British words and in fact, I have loved reading about your UK experiences since joining the blog world in January. It has been fun to read about your experiences since returning to the US. I chuckle now at the grocery store when I go to the cereal and toilet paper isles and I can't help but think of your post about that. I sure hope your furniture gets here soon, so you can begin to get settled. I know you are getting tired of living in the hotel. Take care and have a wonderful weekend. Love & blessings from NC!

  3. You are just so cute. I love your "words".
    I remember odd little pronunciations my Mom had. I think it was her generation. We were always told to "go wash your hands" and wash came out sounding like "worsh".
    Now you've got me thinking . . .

  4. I love that you use these words. It's very interesting!
    I remember when you talked about the word "brilliant"and I've even used that a few times recently. :)

  5. Keep using the British words Joyce! I definitely sounded weird for the first six months when I moved back to the states, but I think I've lost most of the unique terms...I do sign my e-mails with a Cheers though -- I'm keeping that one for good. :)

  6. There are just a lot of British words that are better than their US counterparts. Either they're more descriptive, or spelt better (note)("learnt" is perfectly acceptable as well), or they more accurately reflect the pronunciation.

    I use a lot of British websites, and over the years I've picked up some of the British spellings. When I started my blog, I typed a post using the British spelling; spell-check caught it. I had used it so natually, I decided to just leave it in and now I use it all the time. "Favourite", "Neighbour", "Honour", all standard.

    Likewise, I prefer "Cheers!" as a greeting/farewell/thank you, and "Mobile" (I even prounounce that one in the British way, "mo-bIle"). Likewise "theatre", "centre", etc.

    One thing I retained from my NYC days, and can't shake: you stand ON line, not IN line. "I was standing on line at the bank the other day...". I never did stand "in queue", but I do "queue up".

    Everybody has their little things. Those are some of mine.

    So, if you have a "rubbish bin" at your house, I think that's just fine.

    Cheers! (see how well that works!?).