All British people sound like that, right? I’ve seen My Fair Lady. I know what the common folk are like…
Ok, maybe not, but I have experienced my fair share of international language differences. British English is definitely a lot different from American English. For one, the vocabulary (at least in my business conferences) is far better. I personally prefer the way Brits say “brilliant” in place of our word “great”. Although, I have to admit when I am on the phone and I say, “Yeah, that sounds great.” and I hear someone say, “Yes, it’s brilliant.” I feel like they’re trying to upstage me. In fairness, we use the word great in a way that isn’t all-together logical. I mean, it works for us, but great is more of a measure of something than an expression of intellectual aptitute of an idea. But I digress….
The reason I’m even talking about this is because I went to the book store and was browsing through their selection of help books for writing. After skimming a few pages I settled on a book by a woman named Della Galton. She is British. It’s not that her verbage was much different, but there were slight differences, such as the words “colour”, “tyre”, and familiarity with Scottish dialect that she keeps reffering to as if I hear it all the time. The closest I get to Scottish is watching “Braveheart”. Even then I’m wathing an American pretend to be Scottish.
It’s not just Brits that throw me off though. I have to be completely honest when I say that most of these people are speaking out of their native language, which I highly admire and envy. A polish guy told me a joke once. It went like this:
“What do you call someone who speaks three languages?….Trilingual
What do you call someone who speaks two languages?….Bilingual
What do you call someone who speaks one language?….American”
And a good laugh was had by all, despite that fact that I said monolingual to the last one and almost threw the whole joke off. I think the thing that most Europeans forget though is that in America we don’t live next to a bunch of other countries that speak different languages. With the exception of Mexico, which borders only one side of the country, we are surrounded only by predominantly English-speaking people. We don’t commute to places where people speak other languages.
In that respect I am very jealous. I feel that we are lacking a lot of culture that other countries are deeply immersed in. It’s probably due to the fact that we were founded by a bunch of pillaging pilgrims who tried to abolish everything fun. Their idea of a good time was burning witches and working their fingers to the bone.
If you are from another country, I’d love to get your perspective on funny things that us American’s say. I’m always looking for outside perspective. 🙂