Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My American Strikes Again

Yesterday I wrote a letter to all the parents/caregivers for the reception class at Cate's school. No I am not the class rep, merely the secretary. Surely sending a weekly email isn't over doing it...right?

Anyway, the critics came out today. I said, 'Much thanks' at the end of the letter. Here they say, 'Many thanks.' Blimey!  I don't fancy myself a grammarian by any stretch, but I do know how to speak the language. Now I have to watch my American-ese in my emails. Here's stress I don't need.

My daughter is becoming quite the Brit. She calls X 'cheeky' and 'a naughty bugger' (she got in trouble for the 'bugger' comment, btw). She says things like food hall instead of lunch/dining room, tea instead of dinner or supper, toilet instead of bathroom (I really don't like this one at all), mince instead of ground beef, pudding instead of dessert, jelly instead of Jell-O, autumn instead of Fall (I prefer this one), she's calling me mummy or mum which I really don't want but will live with, petrol instead of gas, film instead of movie, brilliant instead of great, and my favourite/favorite toe-maa-toe instead of ta-may-toe. She's a true Brit.

I noticed I say mobile instead of cell phone, rubbish or bin instead of garbage or can, loo instead of bathroom and many more things. It's all said with an American accent, but I've definitely got the British touch to my everday speech. I'm sure it will all change when we eventually make it back to the US some day.

So for now, my daughter is British, I'm getting there, and I better hurry up before I'm fired for being too American and grammatically questioned on a weekly basis. I call it speaking British with an American accent.

Cheerio, pip pip and all that. Tah.


  1. How rude of those parents. Actually, I always think it makes them look worse than anyone else.
    If it's any consolation, I have three kids twanging away on this side of the Atlantic (Chicago) and they are truly American. When we're in England their inflection sometimes changes but never their accent. It's something that you live with when you're globe-trotting.
    You should pop over to Pond Parleys ( and join our discussion on US/UK words.

  2. Yes, how rude. I'm always getting things wrong here, but no-one ever criticises; in fact they usually comment on how much nicer the English version sounds. I have the opposite here - two boys who are starting to call me 'Mommy' - although interestingly we call it supper, not tea in our household (tea being a cup of the stuff, or a 'tea party'). I would definitely discourage her from saying bugger - although funny, some people might be quite shocked given its actual meaning..

  3. On our trip to the UK last spring, I booked a B&B in Carlisle, and put in online comments that we would need a cot for my daughter.

    When we arrived, there was a baby crib in the room. Apparently, "cot" means "crib," while "camp bed" means "cot."

    I'm confused.

    Oh, and one of the chain stores here, Best Buy, is pushing the word "Mobile" for its cell phones. It's even on the employees' badges: Mobile Expert.

  4. I received my book today. It's very interesting, thank you so much. I like crisps for chips, which are french fries, right?

  5. I've had 22 years of misinterpretations. Some words I just avoid all together like 'pants'. Sometimes in one sentence I'll use the UK and US version and not even know it until I get a questioning look from who I am talking to! My son calls me Mum because it is easier with his deep voice and daughter calls me Mom. They were both born here in the UK but use Americanisms because I do!

  6. If you ask me they all seem a bit too full of their self importance to question how you put endings on letters. I would carry on like you do, why change your own identity to suit others, I certainly wouldnt and this is from a British person! I do have to say, however that I dont think its a reflection of all Brits because endings to letters, emails vary from person to person and somehow I dont think they would like mine saying "Thanking you muchly" lol xx

  7. Quite a few years ago now I was a Brit settling into an American school. I got some funny looks when I asked for a rubber(eraser)in class!

  8. Someone tell Idaho Dad to read my book before he goes next time - I actually have a real life example of the "cot" thing in there!

  9. I've been back in the US for less than a week and I have had to stop and correct myself several times. I was in the UK for 6 years so it does do a number on you. I went to buy coffee and I said "A tall skinny latte please to take away" The kid just stared at me, then said, "okay?" then I forgot about the tax and had to scramble to count change like a total foreigner. Go figure.

  10. And as for the letter/email thing, they are just looking for anything...ignore them and why not really get them going with "thanks and have a nice day!"

  11. You don't have to move across the Atlantic to find the translations difficult. I struggled moving 50 miles from home!

  12. I don't think I'll ever get used to being called 'Mom' instead of Mum, and 'Mommy' instead of Mummy just leaves me cold. It's one of the weird things about having children with different accents - sometimes it feels like you're raising cuckoos - I think you'll notice it all the more when you travel back to the States with them.

    As for the 'much thanks' come on!! There are many Americanisms I love - and one of them is 'that's lame'!!

  13. As a Brit living in Gran Canaria (a small Spanish island off the coast of west Africa) I am surprised daily by my children’s hot blooded ‘latin-ness’.

    My daughter aged 8, regularly throws her arms up in despair and say’s “Ey Mama!”

    But the weirdest thing, I find, are their accents. They are all completely different, and none of them have a soft Welsh lilt like me.

    Axel aged 2 is so damn Welshy he sounds like he’s just climbed out of a coal pit in the Welsh valleys, Oskar aged 5 sounds like a cross between Paul McCartney and Oasis front-man Liam Gallagher, proper Northern. And Victoria is so American she sounds like she's just stepped out of the cast of Glee, and don't even mention the use of garbage & sidewalk!

    I need to invest in some vintage Noddy films, that’ll sort them all out!


Go ahead, make my day!