Learning Lingo

Ever since I decided that moving to England was a viable direction in which to take myself, I have been brushing up on various aspects of “being British.” While I recognize (recognise!) a lot of spelling differences and slang thanks to books and television, I am not familiar with using them. At the suggestion of my cousin, I changed the autocorrect on my phone from American to British, which has helped with little things like the “u” in “colour” and “favourite.” I also started paying more attention to what people say on the BBC. By no means do I want to sound as though I am appropriating their terminology like a know-it-all tourist…but neither do I want to stick out like a sore American thumb. I want to embrace the new life that I’ll be leading this next year, and that includes not sounding like a git.

Here is one of the charts that I’ve been looking at every now and then to help me remember spelling differences. And somewhere I have another one to remind me that trousers are pants and pants are underwear. Am I missing anything important? If you’ve lived abroad, how did you adapt to a new culture?




16 thoughts on “Learning Lingo

  1. Metre and meter are both used. Metre for a unit of measurement, meter for the likes of an electric or gas meter. The theatre is for a live play, a cinema is where you go to watch movies. Trash is used if something is bad (that book was trash) and rubbish is the bin 🙂 We didn’t realise just how many differences there are until Brian moved here. It’s normally the regional slang that catches him out the most.

    It does provide a few moments of hilarity when the barriers trip him up, for instance, saying that he hates the pants I’m wearing in front of friends. He’s hearing that he doesn’t like my trousers and everyone else is hearing something completely different!

    You’ll pick it up as you go and it’ll insert itself into your daily language before you realise it. Which will make calling home funny as well!!


    1. Thank you! I shall add those to my list. Haha, yes that’s the kind of mistake I’m worried about making! The pants/trousers/underwear bit. That could be embarrassing.

      I usually pick up things pretty quickly, so I’m hoping this will be the same. I think I may be more worried about learning the terminology for money. Like…a quid is a pound, right? I’ve used the euro before, but not pounds. I hate having to convert things in my head, especially when the value of money is always changing!

      As far as calling home—I’ve already had three friends tell me that I’m not allowed to come back saying “Happy Christmas” instead of “Merry Christmas.” We’ll see what happens!


  2. Add harbour and parlour to your list. Also be aware of different pronunciations (laboratory for one).

    As far as living abroad, remember to not complain about things that are different. You’re visiting their country not the other way around. And so it follows that it is best to not always talk about your own country and customs unless asked. You’ll enjoy your time there because I’m sure that you’ll fit right in:)


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