It’s been a few years since I’ve had my last English class in school and college, but I remember the teachers have always highlighted that we were taught British English instead of American English in Germany. Back then, I didn’t think about it much because to my ears it’s never made a massive difference anyway. Now I can tell though, the accents are very different but also whole words and phrases; I can only speak for myself, but I didn’t learn a clean British English in school. It started in third grade already, the teacher would make everyone say some words out loud so we’d get used to the sound of the new language. The teacher would go first: “toemayyyytoee” …(sigh)
Now, after living in the UK for almost two years, I know, Brits don’t use the “trashcan” but the “bin“, it’s “courgette” instead of “zucchini” and “noodles” is not pasta¹. British people get “takeaway” not “takeout“, wait for the “lift” instead of the “elevator” and don’t play “soccer“, in England it’s “football“. And as if this weren’t enough, there’s also all the slang to get used to, so much slang…
People I’ve never seen before would call me “darlin'” or “love” (e.g. cashier: “you need a bag, m’ love?“) and then there are those guys who say “cheers” aaaall the time. It mostly means thanks and is usually followed by a mumbled “mate“, but it could mean anything, really (find out more) . I’ve just recently found out “fit bird” refers to a attractive/hot girl and I am still confused that Leicester and Gloucester are pronounced “Le’ster” and “Glo’ster” – what happened to the middle of those words, why are there only two syllables?
Another thing which took me quite a while to figure out is that “See you later!” doesn’t actually mean to see someone later that day (right, because that’d be too easy). It’s simply used to say goodbye. When I’m about to leave work, people would say “See you later!“, no matter if I’d see them the next day or in a month or not at all (shop assistants would say “see you later” when someone’s leaving the shop).
Yes, England is a strange place, at least to me. Still. But hey, I think I’m doing alright.
I now write after literally every message I send “xx” because that’s what girls do for some reason, I tell everyone to see them later, without ever ending up seeing anyone later and I ask people how they’re doing without expecting an answer anymore (see this post).
And that’s it, for now. See you later 😉
¹ in German language pasta and noodles are described with the same word “Nudeln“.