Bi-Lingual

I’m bi-lingual.   Not in some exotic foreign language.  No, I’m bi-lingual in English.

I have my verbal, (& writing home), Australian English and then I have the special American English used for writing business letters here.

To “U”  or not to “U”  in    Colour/color,   harbour/harbor, flavour/flavor. 

I have to remember to swap the e & r   in centre,  theatre.  

Maintaining the Queen’s English is a battle with auto correction spell check!!

I travel to work on the train with everyone else but I sit in a carriage while they sit in a (rail) car.

I walk on the footpath to the office while they walk on the sidewalk and then I take the lift to the 2nd floor while they ride the elevator to the 3rd floor – because my building starts on the ground floor whilst theirs starts on the 1st.

I have verbs AND nouns for defense/defence, license/licence, practise/practice.

I will always say aeroplane and aluminium.

I still think in kilos while the supermarket is in pounds and ounces.  My brain is inefficient at conversions so I buy by the number   – 6 slices of that, 4 of this.

My temperatures are in Celsius but the weatherman talks in Fahrenheit.   50 degrees F is 10 celsius  – I know I need a jumper when it is that cold but Americans will be in a sweater.

Two things I had to give up fairly quickly.  My pronunciation of schedule  -  SHED-ule  …  because people kept falling about laughing!

And "zed" because no-one recognised it as a letter of the alphabet.  Spelling out a word with zed in the middle brought hilarious results!

I have been asked a lot of strange questions but one stands out in the context of this post:

Do you use the same alphabet in Australia?   MMmmm……..

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23 responses

  1. Sometimes we forget that even the simplest little things can be a bit unsettling. One of my best friends is Canadian. She's been here in Oklahoma for quite a few years (I've known her for about 5) and has adjusted quite well. Because there are so many similarities between the US and Canada (my ex-husband always called Canada the 51st state) we spend a great deal of time teasing her about how completely foreign Canadians are and she does the same right back at us. It's all in good fun and we all laugh a lot, but your post has reminded me that it might not always be as easy for her as she makes it appear. Thanks.

  2. Ditto, ditto, ditto. Great post.Another favorite..I walk down the corridor, while others go down the hallway. I've adapted reasonably well verbally, but its hard to change my spelling, especially when a little voice keeps telling me my Queen's English is somehow more correct than the American version. Ah, who knows?What's wrong with aluminium? Oh. Darned if I change that.

  3. My family is all screwed up. I was born and raised in California but I have relatives in Massachusetts
    and in England.
    We all speak "English" but if we get excited about something we can hardly understand what the other is saying. hahahahahhaha

  4. Canada as the 51st state? LOL! You should hear what the Canadians say about the Americans! Or maybe you shouldn't. All in good fun with a touch of snideness at times depending on who one talks to.
    I'm a Canadian citizen living in the states most of my life. There was nothing worse than going up to our cottage in the summer and having my cousins refer to me as the "the Yankee."
    Emjay: I dropped the "zed' pretty quickly as well but my Dad the chemist always refers to "aluminium."
    There are loads more from Canada: "in hospital," "on holiday," "chips" not "french fries," etc. I suppose that's part of what makes us distinctly different countries.

  5. What about bathroom and toilet? And cheerios in Australia are little red hotdog- like sausages while in America it is a breakfast ceral! We go to University, while Americans go to school or college.
    A doco on recently actually traced the development of history and it was stated that Americans actually speak more accuaretly the Queen's English than the Queen, as langauge evolved more in England, while many of its elements did not change in America.

    But why the loud volume?

  6. Thank you. Yes – I put money in my purse and put it in my handbag with my camera! I have been asked some doozy questions since I have been here – I am sorry that I have not written them down as I don't remember them all now.

  7. I am very good natured at work about my differences and even have an "Aussie word of the day" email with a few people. I used to get a little upset when I first started working & people would laugh at my pronunciations but I soon got thicker skin!

  8. Isn't aluminium a great word! It actually used to be the same here – to match with the other elements but at some stage (1927??) it was shortened to make it easier! With spelling – I am finding that the longer I am here the more difficulty I have spelling anything correctly in either Aussie or American! Sometimes words just don't look right no matter which way I try it.

  9. It is what makes english interesting I suppose. We are the same with "in hospital" – the first time I heard a news report saying people were taken to "the" hospital instead of just being taken to hospital, I wanted to ask "which one?" It sounds so strange. We have chips too and go on holiday. Actually the holiday is another one I refuse to give up – I do not go on vacation! Most times I stick to my Aussie english in the attempt to make the listener think a little laterally. If I am spelling anything in the house I still use 'zed' because my husband has that figured out now. LOL>

  10. Oh – there are so many I might have to do a Part 2 ! LOL. There is candy – which I refuse to say and I have many people in the office calling our jar of goodies "lollies" now. I eat biscuits with my coffee while theirs come with gravy.I refuse to ask for a restroom when I really need the toilet and when visitors ask me at work where the restrooms are I respond "the toilets are down to the right"The school/Uni one is strange. I tend to say the whole University word unless I am talking to my husband. He works on a campus and although it does not have any students he tells me he is "going to school" …. he is nearly 50 yo and it cracks me up every time."Are you right"? and "You're right" confuse people but they give me a smile.I have converted people to "barbies" and "prawns" and "trolley" (cart).That documentary sounds interesting though I would have thought the language was changing more here – Americans definitely make it easier on themselves with their spelling.

  11. i know how this feels. i grew up watching sesame street, but the english used in the education system here is queen's english. imagine my confusion during kindergarten. 'tomatoes' and 'toMAtoes'.

  12. Are you sure you aren't a Canadian in diguise? A very great many of your terms are also used in Canada where my Adored One lives – "on holidays" instead of on vacation, using the "U", etc. His present kennel of dogs mostly have names that start with the letter "Z." When I ask him which dogs he took running that day, instead of listing them out he says "I took all the zeds today." I have had the pleasure of extended visits with him over the past 2-1/2 years, and have begun to adopt some of the terms and spellings…just because it's fun, and I want to. I use them interchangeably at different times, mostly to amuse myself. I will use them in his company and strangely enough, he has adopted some of my southern Tennessee-American terms. Here are some others I've picked up and employed from time to time. I will give the Canadian version first, then its American equivalent:
    Serviette = Paper Napkin
    Transports = Semi-trailer trucks
    Chesterfield = Couch (or Sofa)
    Cheque = Check
    Film (pronounced "Fillum") = Movie
    Rug = Wall-to-wall Carpet
    Greedy Beer = A 40-ouncer
    Lads = Boys
    The best for me though, is the use of the words "have" and "take." I was explaining these differences to my computer-nerd son the other day. In a joking manner I told him that in Canada they "have" a shower – we "take" a shower. They have a nap – we take a nap. They gotta have a shit, whereas we gotta take a shit. With a slow grin forming, he replied to me: They gotta "have" all those things because we keep "taking" them. (Heee!)

  13. My children grew up with Sesame Street and were similarly confused when they started school! I have ordered a toMARto sandwich and been told that they don't make them! My husband had to translate for the girl! 🙂

  14. Oh! LOL – I love your son's joke!! I read that to my (American) husband and he totally concurred! I have not heard the word chesterfield used since my grandparents died – I don't think anyone my generation uses it. I love the word "cheque" and do use that in everything except business letters. I have never heard either Greedy Beer or 40-ouncer … I'm not sure we produce beer in that size – the large Fosters cans you see here in the States are produced in Canada and are not available in Australia. "Stubby" is used in Australia – and I think in Canada as well? – it is a small twist top bottle of beer. Yes serviettes are paper whereas a napkin is a cloth one (classically linen).I can have a lot of fun with the differences 🙂

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