Mikes Random Musings

Thursday, February 02, 2006

When I moved to the US, the last thing I thought I would have a problem with would be the language. However, at the moment, it is just becoming really apparent how different Australian English is to American English.

The first major problem is my accent. It seems a lot of people here, have a problem understanding what I am saying simply because of my accent. I never thought my accent was that thick, but apparently it is.

The second major problem, is common turns of phrase that just don't make sense over here, or people have no context to understand them.

My first example of this, is something that happened, not five minutes ago with my office mate. He asked how long a particular task would take. My immedidate response was "acoupla' hours", meaning, 4 to 5 hours. My officemate was taken back by this statement, because he assumed this task would take a long time. He thought that my saying 'a couple of hours', ment it would in fact take 2 hours or less.

After thinking about this, I relised that 'a couple of hours' is an overloaded term in Australia. We take it to mean 'several' hours, i.e. more than 3. If we wanted to say 2 hours, we would say 2 hours.

The next problem came the other night while I was shopping. I needed a new light bulb for my desk lamp. I wasn't sure where they were so I asked one of the nightfill staff where I could find them, asking 'where can I find the light bulbs'. The girl gave me a blank look and asked 'bulbs'?. When I finally figured out that she had no idea what I was asking for, and repeated the question, asking for 'light globes' she knew exactly what I wanted and was able to help.

The third, and by far the funniest, is the concept of take-away. If you walk into a shop and ask for something to 'take-away' (e.g. 'Large coffee to take away please') chances are the person behind the counter will have no idea what your asking for. The correct term over here is 'to go'. Both myself and keith have had some strange experiences by asking for something to 'take-away'. Staff seem to think it means, we don't like what they have served us, and want a replacement.

While I am noticing these differences, I am also doing my best to spread the aussie influence over here... My ex-lead is very happy, because she now knows what 'bloody', 'bugger', 'pants' (as in 'complete pile of pants') and 'stuff it' (as in 'stuff it up') mean. They still get confused when I throw out a 'tidy effort, tiger', or 'bollocks' but we're working on it.

So I guess this lesson from this is, while people may speak the same language, they may not speak the same dialect.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home