Sunday, 21 April 2013

Do you speak New York?

I mentioned in my last post that I am now something of an expert in "how to speak American". Occasionally I do find that the odd British word creeps into my speech, but on the whole I edit them out as I talk, substituting "store" for shop, "vacation" for holiday and "parking lot" for "car park". It makes me realise just how far I have come since moving here.

Of course we are all exposed to American words by TV and books (and I watched a lot of American TV growing up), so we think we are going to cope just fine, but there are some expressions, and pronounciations, you just don't get until you actually live here. One example is Thanksgiving. The emphasis is on the "giving", not on the "Thanks". I never knew that till I moved here, and I still get that one wrong. I can't pronounce "garage" the way they do, either - the emphasis on the "ahge", as in "marge".

 Then there are some particular local words or expressions - by this I mean local to New York (or possibly even to Long Island). I thought I'd set a little quiz, below, to see how many Brits would understand them.

So, without any further ado, how would you interpret the following?

1."I was online for gas for two hours"

a) I was on the internet searching for gas providers to compare prices
b) I was waiting in the queue for petrol
c) I was on the phone trying to speak to the gas company.

2. "This woman cut me"
a) Someone attacked me with a knife.
b) I had my hair cut
c) Someone jumped the queue

3. "I was gonna have a yard sale, but then I realised it's Father's Day that weekend..."
a) I was going to sell my garden, but we are doing something for Father's Day
b) I was going to do sell something in my backyard, but my husband will not be able to help because it's Father's Day
c) I was going to put a lot of junk out in my front garden and sell it, but Father's Day is sacrosanct so no-one will come.

Answers revealed in the next post....


Iota said...

Can't do 1.
2 is (c).
3 is (c).

I'd never thought about ThanksGIVING instead of THANKSgiving, but you're right.

I talked about finding a parking spot the other day, and someone pointed it out. "What else would I say?" I asked. I couldn't remember what the British English equivalent would be.

Nota Bene said...

Number one is hard, but as the other two are 'c' I'm going to plump for that as well....

Circles said...

1) b (but not sure at all)
2) c (I remember this one)
3) c
I remember in Minnesota, they would use the word 'visit' differently ... I think it was: I would like to visit with you next week. It always seemed like there was an extra word in there.

Expat mum said...

Got 'em, but I won't spoil it. And in the south they also say "visit" meaning just to sit and chat. "Come and visit with me". You don't necessarily have to go to someone's house.
In the mid-west they say "Look at" when they're trying to get your attention or trying to get you to look at something. They also say "Can I come with?"

Kit said...

Think I'm in danger of blurring my Britishness now as I'm pretty sure I got them all. South Africa seems to be half and half British/American in usage these days, (too much movie and American soap watching obviously!) though we very much use British spelling here. But the 'Can I come with', is very South African too.

Was Living Down Under said...

Can't figure out the first one though I my guess would be b. The other two are c. Though over here in Canada we don't use any of those terms. It's usually a garage sale (though the junk is usually dragged out onto the driveway and front garden, and you "cut the line" or "cut in front of me". We do use visit the way Expat Mum described. "I saw B at the cafe and we had a nice visit." And we do say "Can I come with?"

Jay said...

I didn't realise the translation would be so hard! For number 1 I thought b but would you wait that long?!
Then c for the other 2. I am a clueless Brit!