Wednesday, September 12, 2007

You Say Biscuit, I Say Cookie

April 2005 my dream of going to the home of C.S. Lewis, Charles Dickens, and Jane Austin, came true! My first trip across the big pond to the United Kingdom, where history was layered a thousand centuries deep, all waiting for me to explore.

As I walked along the sidewalks with my face to the sky marveling at the amazing architecture a curious thing kept happening. Even though I was on my side of the walk people kept bumping into me. I apologized like any polite Southern Gal should, but really, couldn't they stay on their side? Then it occurred to me that they walk on the same side as they drive and so do I. Ergo the problem.

Another thing. How is it that the people of England and of the USA both speak english, but different languages? For instance, while asking for directions to a bus station the kind lady at the subway (they call it a tube) replied, "You go to the zebra and turn right."

I thanked her and walked outside looking for a zebra of some sort. I looked for a sign--nothing. Maybe a plastic model? Nope. The real thing? No zebra. So I went back to her. "I don't see the zebra." She said, "At the end of the road, the zebra with the hump."

Hmmmm, the animal got stranger. A cross between a zebra and camel perhaps? Anyway, a creature like this shouldn't be hard to see. But try as I might, not a sign of a zebracam. By now I was almost too embarrassed to ask again. Almost.

The lady was really frustrated with me. "Look on the road, the strips are right there!!!"

"Ohhhh, you mean a pedestrian crossing with a speed bump?"
Then she looked confused.

That was my introduction to the British language. I learned that they call cookies, biscuits. Can you imagine what a visitor from England thinks when he reads "biscuits and gravy" on the Cracker Barrel menu?

What they call bacon looks like ham to me. And if you ask for jelly for your toast, you'll get gelatin. Chips are french fries and crisps are potato chips. A vacation is a holiday and mum is mom. An apartment is a flat, the trunk of a car is a boot and the hood is a bonnet.

Sakes! And people think Southerners talk funny!

What about ya'll out there? Do you have funny stories about American vs. British terms?


Linda C. Apple said...

Comment from my friend Ned -

from one who's a notorious travelphobe, I'm almost tempted!

More Englishiana: Under the bonnet (hood) of the car, reside the sparking plugs (spark plugs), which are of no use unless you've filled the tank with petrol (gas). After doing so, you might drive to a friend's house and knock them up (call upon them). After visiting for a while, you might leave after admonishing them to "keep your pecker up." (The meaning of which to the English I have not dared to ask.)

jeanie said...

I travel a lot doing research. You've made me want to visit England. Jeanie

Lea said...

I knew I wanted to visit England before "I die." But after reading your blog, I want to see it NOW.

Thanks for the info. I'll definitely be back!

Velda Brotherton said...

I'll probably never get to the UK, so reading this blog will be the next best thing. Keep them coming.

gina said...

Hi Linda, What a great idea! I love the down home and relaxed way you tell of your travels. Very interesting and very informative. Hope to see lots more in the future. Thanks for a great read.

Lou said...

Linda...I love your articles and comments on the UK. Now, can you go to Italy and write about that...I'm really wanting to go there, but I think I'll let you go first. Lou

Craig said...

I loved the description of your visit to England and especially the language differences. Your sense of humor had me laughing to the point of tears. Keep up the good work. You have keen perceptions and insights.