Skip to main content

American English vs. British English

Submitted by Bethany on Tue, 11/20/2018 - 10:00

Yesterday we ended up on a last minute hike to see Pennard Castle and Three Cliffs Bay. We got there right at sunset and the views were spectacular! I have some amazing pictures to share with you... but not today. Unfortunately our laptop has decided to go on strike so it's going to be a bit before I can edit and upload photos to the blog. (Until then be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up!) 

Steve was with us on our hike, and since we were all famished after walking so far we invited him in for dinner. We were only serving leftovers but he was a good sport about it. He loved Joel's cheesy pasta dish though he turned up his nose at my "deconstructed cottage pie" (aka I'm too lazy to put it all together and bake it in the oven like the recipe calls for). To be fair, it's a classic British dish that I totally cannibalized. 

After dinner we ended up in a several hour long conversation about American lingo vs. British lingo.

We went back and forth coming up with weird American words or sayings and challenging Steve to figure out what they mean, and Steve giving us specific English slang and phrases and us having to guess the meaning. As long as Steve used the word or phrase in a sentence I was pretty good at guessing the meaning - I'd say I was about 75% accurate (I realize that's a C, but I was way better than Joel, I promise). I kind of wish I had recorded our whole conversation so I could share with you all the best parts, but I didn't realize it would make a great blog post until after Steve had left. But here is everything I can recall!

We weren't able to stump Steve with too many sayings, thanks to American TV being readily available over here. Watch enough sitcoms and cop shows and you'll catch up on American idioms pretty quickly. But here are a few he didn't know:
The idea of someone "lollygagging"
Being a "bump on a log"
When a television show has "jumped the shark" 
Someone being an annoying "Monday morning quarterback"
Just "shooting the breeze" (Steve's guess for this one was particularly hilarious, involving Americans driving around shooting rifles up into the air randomly) 

The funniest one of the night was when we discovered the two meanings of "The Full Monty" 
Use it in a sentence - 
British: The whole family is coming over on Sunday and I'm going to give them the full monty!
American: We have our third date on Friday night, I think I'm ready to show him the full monty!
This one had us all cracking up beause it means something vastly different in American vs. British. In the States, it is generally used as code for showing someone your whole, um, self. With no clothes on. Which means giving the family the whole monty on a Sunday afternoon would be super weird and awkward. In the UK, however, it references a full dinner spread with all the fixings! Talk about different definitions! 

We also had a good laugh about texting etiquette in the US vs. the UK. I had noticed that when I communicated with some Welsh friends that they would end texts or Facebook messages with "xx". It does technically mean the same thing here as back home, the x stands for kiss. In the States you would be much more likely to see "xoxo" aka kisses and hugs, and you would really only see it in romantic communication such as from a spouse or in a Valentine's Day card. [Or in my sign-off on the blog I use it as an homage to one of my favorite TV shows, Gossip Girl] Here, however, the "x" is used in all text based communication! With everyone! Steve actually showed us texts between himself and various colleagues, even an old boss that included the "x"! The number of x's used varies based on your familiarity with whoever you are communicating with, 1x for a boss or colleague, all the way up to 7x's for a romantic relationship. Steve shared he once got in big trouble with a girlfriend for accidentally using 6 x's instead of 7!

One place you see a lot of difference between British and American is in the grocery store. Take a walk down the produce aisle and you'll see some names you aren't used to! I'll list these with the American name first, then the British name. 
Eggplant vs. Aubergine
Zucchini vs. Courgette
Rutabaga vs. Swede
Arugala vs. Rocket 
Raisin vs. Sultana 
Navy beans vs. Haricot beans
Romaine lettuce vs. Cos
Bonus: This isn't produce, but bacon is different here! What they refer to as "bacon" we would call "Canadian bacon" and what we refer to as just "bacon" is called "streaky bacon" here! 

When we first arrived in Wales we spent the weekend binge watching a fabulous TV show called "Gavin and Stacey". It's a sitcom about a Welsh girl and an English boy falling in love and all the hilarious problems and misunderstandings that come from their cross-cultural relationship. We noticed on the show that the word "lush" was used a lot. Stacey would refer to anything from a hamburger to a fancy house as "lush". We finally asked Steve about it last night and he said it's basically the equivalent of the American use of "awesome" - it can refer to anything you really like! 

So that's a small portion of our conversation from last night - I hope you all have a lush full monty for Thanksgiving this week! 

XOXO, Bethany