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Friday, February 24, 2017

"Wait, what?"

A move to Australia was really appealing to me for a number of reasons. High on the list was that we'd have no language barrier. I've found this to be only half true. Below are a list of the initial language differences I've experienced that have made communication interesting and / or challenging.

Americans call this cotton candy; Australians call it fairy floss.
Image credit: Bobby K Entertainment

Americans call the rear open part of the car the trunk; Australians call it a boot.
Image credit: Motor Trend

Americans call this a bathing suit; Australians call it a swimming costume. 
Image credit: Sports Direct

Americans call this a barbecue (or BBQ); Australians call it a barbie.
Image credit: Weber BBQ

Americans call these potato chips; Australians call them crisps.
Image credit: iSTOCK via Mental_Floss

Americans call these French fries (or fries); Australians call them chips.
Image credit Hemera / Thinkstock via The Splendid Table

Americans call this a stroller; Australians call it a pram.
Image credit Chicco Baby Gear

There are sooo many more; they creep up when you least expect it. I stare blankly. We chuckle. Then I try to describe what I think the other person is saying.

Most perplexing of all these was the swimming costume. E has weekly swimming lessons through school, and it took a lot of courage to ask someone in the front office what a swimming costume was. We had a funny conversation trying to describe to one another what we thought it was in mutual terms! In the end, I found him the right item, and all is well.

When Aussies say "cheers" they may mean hello, thank you, you're welcome or goodbye (from what I can tell). I'm still adjusting to saying "cheers" and then hanging up a telephone without also saying "goodbye," "thank you," "speak to you soon" or "have a nice day." But it's quite obvious from my voice that I'm from somewhere else so I think I get a little leeway on these things.

These subtle differences in language have been a great reminder of the importance of opening my mind and expanding my world view. While there are many, many similarities there are probably as many differences between the US and Australia. Like driving...stay tuned for more on that!

1 comment:

  1. When visiting London, I once asked a Brit, "Why do all British men wear tight pants?" As it turns out, pants does not mean pants there, and "trousers" is the word for pants. "Pants" means underwear. I had asked "Why do all British men wear tight underwear?" I gave the impression that I was very popular in England.