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A husband and wife get lost in translation

This week we’ve got a great guest post from fellow blogger Molly: a long distance wife who’s in the process of emigrating to the US. Here she shares some anecdotes on how different US and UK spoken English can be.

Hello! I’m Molly, a blog writer, emigration hopeful and long distance wife to a gorgeous American husband. I am currently in the process of completing my visa to go and live in the US to be with my husband, which is why I write my blog entitled The move to America.

One of the pages on my blog is dedicated to the funny differences between British and American English – often causing misunderstandings and mishaps. These differences can often take a conversation in an unintended direction!

I have no idea what you just said …

Believe it or not, there are some phrases and slang that are so different, I have no way of figuring out what my husband is saying. For the most part, I usually am able to (slowly) realise what he means and go along with the conversation without too many problems, but the following examples have left me completely confused:

“My dogs ache today.” – When my husband said this to me, I assumed he had secretly bought us some puppies. As I was eagerly questioning him about the lovely new additions to our family, and trying to ascertain why the dogs were in pain, he explained (between snorting laughter) that his “dogs” were in fact his feet, and they were sore from work.

“I’d like to show you around the boonies.” – This was met with silence from me. The what? My husband decided to helpfully explain that the “boonies” were the “boondocks”. This did not help at all and I thought he was being a bit vulgar. After some minutes of going around in circles, we established that the “boonies/boondocks” referred to a very rural countryside area. Oh, of course!

Some other quick examples that often have me giggling include “rutabaga” (to me this sounds like something you holiday in, but it is the vegetable, swede) and “caboose” (this sounds like a fluffy mammal, but is in fact the last car on a train)!

English slang

It does work the other way too. I remember my husband telling me that his uncle was Jose and not Bob when I used the chirpy ‘Britishism’ “Bob’s your uncle” when I was telling him how I had made something. He also finds it hilarious when I say “cheers” to a shop assistant as he says it sounds like I was having a drink and rather than saying thank you.

There are so many confusions when the same word has a different UK/US meaning too. These often cause a minor pause as we try to sort out in our minds what the word means in the other’s language. Most common between my husband and I is the word “chip”. His chips are my crisps and my chips are his fries and his fries are my chips … and so on!

This does not even cover the differences in how we pronounce the same word, however, as this is often the cause of many heated discussions about who is correct, but I think I will leave that for now!

If you enjoyed reading this post, and would like to know more about me and my other ‘Lost in Translation’ moments, please visit my blog.

Molly and her husband.
Molly and her husband.

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