It's difficult to find another country to travel to where the language is exactly the same as your native country. Hey, in larger countries, like the US, it's difficult to travel to other parts of the same country and have the language be the same. Yeah, a lot of it will be the same, but accents will differ, pronunciations will vary, and some idioms may be unique. Since Britain is mostly an English speaking place, these were the differences we noticed there. However, some Scots speak Scottish Gaelic, and some Welsh people speak Welsh.
For instance, to say "Good Afternoon" in Scottish Gaelic you say "Feasgar Math". Personally, I would have thought you were talking about some type of math invented by a guy named Feasgar. "Good Afternoon" in Welsh is "Prynhawn Da". To me, you might as well be a parent talking gibberish to a baby.
But things were different for my son, Andrew. He became interested in the Welsh language some time ago and can converse with others to a limited degree. It's still a mystery to me why he became interested in Welsh, but I do know the Finch name most likely comes from either England or Wales. Perhaps some long dormant gene activated in my son that took him back to his roots from many generations ago. I do know that he was extremely excited about visiting Wales, and he made an impression on a number of natives as a Welsh speaking Alabamian. Heck, he even impressed me seeing him in action. A telltale indicator that a dormant gene has activated in Andrew was his response to my wife's statement near the end of the trip. Kathy said, "I'm ready to go home." Andrew responded, "I am home."
Apart from the alternative languages spoken by some in Britain, there were a lot of interesting differences in their version of English. The accent is the first you notice. There is a distinctly different accent in Scotland vs England vs Wales. There are also differences within countries. Some I can distinguish; some I cannot. My son is much more attune to this, sometimes being able to narrow a person's accent down to a specific area within an individual country.
There were many cases of the wording for things differing with what I am used to. One that really stood out was the restrooms. In Britain they are mostly called toilets. Even the signs in stores read "Toilets". They knew what you meant if you asked where the restrooms were, but that's just not how they referred to them. Later I noticed that places for rent had signs that said "To Let". Yes, we use that term here in the US, but not as much as "For Rent". Early in our trip, I saw a large "To Let" sign from a distance and thought it read "ToiLet". I was at a loss as to why a toilet sign was so big and why they would capitalize the L. But then I realized it actually read "To Let", and started laughing about the closeness of the signs "Toilet" and "To Let".
There were a couple of interesting statements made by our tour guide. He would say something like this, "We will be stopping in [city name], and we'll be here long enough for you to have a wander." Have a wander? You have to wonder what that means. It's really quite obvious. You can wander about. I just don't remember ever hearing someone say have
a wander. Here in the US, we would more likely say "take a stroll" or "walk around" or even "wander around".
Our tour guide would also talk about the people who live "in
the street" as opposed to "on
the street". I'm quite certain he wasn't talking about homeless people. But when you think about it, "on the street" sounds just as much like being homeless as "in the street". It kind of reminds me of George Carlin talking about getting "on
the plane". He said he wasn't about to do that, he was getting "in
the plane". So, perhaps for people who reside in a house we should say that they live "alongside
the street". What'da'ya think?
Another idiom we encountered came from automated voices in elevators. We would step in and the voice would say something like, "The doors are closing. Please mind the doors." Mind
the doors? I've not heard that one before, but you know the words mean, "Watch
the doors" or "Be aware
of the doors". Of course, all of these really mean, "Get your butt inside and don't get caught when the doors close." But I guess that's a little too verbose and a bit too direct.
One last word: Yip! I don't remember hearing this in Scotland or Wales, but it was quite ubiquitous in England. It was used frequently by female servers at restaurants. Here's a typical exchange. (You might better understand it if you have already read the F in this series for Food at http://rcfinch.blogspot.com/2013/09/britain-from-to-z-f.html
Server: Can I take your order?
Me: I'll have the Fish and Chips.
Me: Does it come with tartar sauce?
Me: I'll also have a Diet Coke with that.
Server: Would you like mushy peas with that?
This was then followed by a similar conversation with my wife and son. At first it seemed that these Yippee servers were being a bit curt with us, but I eventually realized that was simply their way of acknowledging they heard what we said.
Interestingly, we were recently dining at Ricatoni's, a local Italian restaurant. I noticed that our server had an English accent, so asked her where she was from. It was a small town in southern England. I told her about the Yippees we encountered in England and she was familiar with them. She could even Yip herself. Epic!
I'll stop at that. I will discuss more language differences in a later post. Yip!