Learning the language

28 Apr

Perhaps one of the most daunting, yet important aspects of moving to a foreign land is learning the language. It certainly helps ease the daily grind and maneuver throughout your new homeland. As I learn the language, I thought I would keep a running catalogue of key terms for anyone coming to visit:

  • Removal sale: clearance sale – first on the list, because it just might be the most important
  • Flat: an apartment that is situated on a single floor. This makes me wonder if a two-story unit should be called a stack?
  • Duplex: an apartment that is a single unit made from two individual units
  • To Let: for rent, as in, “I will let you pay me to live in this flat, which I own”
  • Zed: the letter Z. I now have to spell my name out for people by saying, “Elizabeth, with a Zed“, because if I say with a “z”, my name becomes Elicabeth
  • Haych: the bizarre pronunciation of the letter H, with a big breathy “h” on the front. This was met with a full 5 minutes of confusion on my part, as I was sure it was its own word.
  • Lift: elevator – yep, that’s what it does… it lifts.   :-I   And don’t bother asking for an elevator – no one seems to be aware that it is a different word than escalator. You will be directed to a moving staircase.
  • Cooker: the stove top – big brain award for whoever came up with that one
  • When in doubt – just  think of the primary verb that you would connect with an object, and use it as a noun. Someone is sure to know what you are talking about.
  • Hamper: please do not fill this with your dirty laundry. This word is used for both a Christmas stocking and any variety of gift box/basket.
  • Queue: Line, pronounced like the letter Q
  • Loo: toilet. I can’t take myself seriously when I am compelled to announce, “There is a queue for the loo!” Though, I will admit, it sounds better than, “Thays a line fo da baffroom”.
  • If something ends with a “g”, go ahead and spell it with a useless and antiquated “ue” on the end (see how I did that with catalogue at the top?). If it ends in the “er” sound, switch those up and spell it with “re”(kilometre, fibre, and theatre, of course), “or” becomes “our” (as in neighbour and flavour). Replace all zeds with “s” (recognise and organise). It is important to make words as difficult as possible to spell correctly.
  • Never use the Oxford Comma. It is more fun if your writing is ambiguous, mysterious and confounding to the reader. “I dedicate this blog post to my children, Captain and Hong Kong”

Oh, sorry. You thought I meant I would be teaching you Cantonese. Oh no, no, no. That, my dear, is a dreaded task for another day. Let me get the English-English figured out first!

(Wink to all you birds, blokes, and chaps whom I consider mates. I hope you are not buggered by my cheeky post!)

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3 Responses to “Learning the language”

  1. Jan April 28, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    This is a great list of some of the differences when between ‘the proper’ Queen’s English and the language that we uncouth renegades use! We first had tuned into this vocabulary while in Singapore. Add the difference in word meaning to their foreign language, dialect, and pronunciation and you’ve got yourself a difficult learn, Gal! Good luck and keep having fun!

  2. Jan April 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    -and don’t forget lory for truck, bonnet and boot for under the hood and trunk of a car, tele for television, biscuit for cookie, sparking plugs for spark plugs, spanner for an open-end wrench! It really is almost two different languages- -not to mention the pronunciation difference in the hard and soft ‘a’- -used entirely opposite by the Brits!

    • window2chaos April 28, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

      Yeah – don’t get me started on fries, wedges, chips, and crisps… and my personal favorite/most loathed: PUDDING. How can you have four words for fried versions of potatoes and ONE word for all desserts? When you say you are serving puddings, I expect PUDDING, dammit!!!

      Also, I am most certain that “uncouth renegade” is in my DNA. 😉

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