British vs American

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I am about as British as they come. I am currently reading Kate Fox’s book, ‘Watching the English’ and as far as I can see, am the epitome of all things good, bad and plainly odd about the English. A few examples:

. I share the same rather dry, self deprecating and ironical humour of my fellow Brits.

. I cringe at the ‘too gushing’, ‘overfamiliar’ or ‘over enthusiastic’ preferring the British understatement. (Eg when suffering bronchial pneumonia, to describe it as ‘a bit of a bother’)

. I too endure the awkwardness of replying “how do you do?” when asked the same question even though it actually isn’t a question to be answered but simply to be repeated.

. And, after twenty painful minutes of goodbyes in various forms with promises to meet up soon with someone whom we know our husband loathes, we sigh a momentous sigh of relief and swear that we’ll never do it again … but we always do, after all, wouldn’t it be rude not to?

And I haven’t even reached the chapter on queuing which I am sure is imminent.

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These are in truth, slightly strange foibles and yet having had them soaked into us by way of osmosis since birth, they are our “normal”. Nevertheless I am sure that to non-Brits they are also rather peculiar, even slightly irritating and without doubt, confusing.

And as someone who is soon to be moving to the States, I do wonder if my fellow Americans from across the pond have any interesting quirks that I should be aware of I should loathe to make a faux pas or twenty on the first day. To date I have found everyone remarkably jolly and inclusive, but perhaps they were just being polite to this strange English woman …

In order to err on the side of caution, I have therefore made some preliminary enquiries and so far have established the following:

Apparently we Brits work shorter hours, have more holiday and get up later in the mornings. However, supposedly we get more exercise and eat less pizza but drink far more tea.

Also, I understand that pants are not referring to ones underwear, but instead, to trousers.

A purse is a handbag, not a … purse.

And if you are pissed, you’re not sublimely cream-crackered or a teensy bit tipsy, you’re actually rather cross.

So with all this information to hand, I’ve told my husband to prepare himself for a long working day, to put the bowler hat into storage, and should I ever get pissed, to remind me to not try to hide my purse in my pants … it clearly wouldn’t work.

Just to clarify however …

a) I don’t get ‘pissed’ in case anyone is wanting to throw that at me (!) and

b) I don’t recall ever having tried to hide my purse down my knickers … my bra yes, but that was when I was travelling through some very dodgy areas on a particularly bad holiday many years ago … I did have to put a sock in the other side as I was a tad unbalanced and lumpy, but crikey, despite being rather broke, I found it was quite an impressively exciting sight.

Anyway, should anyone have any suggestions or tips, you could not find a more grateful recipient.

Katie x

38 thoughts on “British vs American”

    1. A purse to us, is a wallet for girls with a little zip to put change in and is roughly the size of a large mobile phone. Whereas men have a wallet with no zip as they put their change into their pockets. The problem for men is that when they’re sitting in a car, all the change slips out of their pockets and down the back of the seat! Always worth checking in hire cars!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’ll definitely find different sorts in New York. I’ve never been there, but would love to visit. Not only which State, but what part of a State. I’m from Western Ky. I was born & raised in a small town, & still here. I’ve watched several documentaries on varies things that was filmed in Eastern Ky. Let’s just say……I’m glad there are always subtitles. We speak the same language, but not in the same way lol I’ll go ahead now & let you know……Welcome! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Most people are very accommodating to people of other cultures and bearings over here in the US. I know I’ve seen so many different types of people that I too have to remind myself NOT to use casual slang. It’s very confusing.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Fanny packs have been making an unfortunate resurgence from the 80s, and no, it’s not the same fanny as in British parlance.
    Pissed can be used in both contexts; “pissed off” is specific to being irritated.
    And North Americans are generally pretty bad at identifying accents, so be prepared to be asked if you’re Australian or god knows what else.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. There’s a lot of regional variation, so I wouldn’t worry about figuring it out in advance. Places like New York are so diverse there aren’t as clear of norms. The most American thing you can do is be yourself— and if they don’t like you perhaps you could substitute a “bite me” instead of a “sod off”? 😜

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s for three years which is lovely as it’s long enough to really settle. I’m not envisaging much gardening though however, but will dream of it often and of course will be able to look at your lovely photos!


  4. 😀 Before you hop over, it sounds like I need The Katie Guide to British Terms.
    We’ve all sorts of slang that doesn’t cross over; I’m sure you can find an internet site or two to help. The bonus is that Americans find British cussing (only of words we don’t use for the same purpose) as quaint as a Brit wearing trousers and a bowler. 😉

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  5. …and a fanny pack is a bumbag, not a box of tampons 😉

    Never walk into a stationery shop stating you’re wanting to buy some rubbers…they’ll send you off to the chemist. You need to ensure you say, ‘erasers’.

    Oh I have a whole list of these. It’s my funny, obssessive quiz that I made years ago. On one side of the paper are English words and the participant has to write the American equivalent.

    But, why are you jumping ship? Have I missed a post on this? Will they let Claude in? I can’t wait to find out why.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I love the differences! I shall make sure that I have a good stock of erasers before I leave! We’re crossing the pond for my husband’s work, so am suuuuuper excited! The whole fanny pack thing just still creases me up … I’m so childish!!

      Liked by 1 person

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