You say tomato, I say tomato.

Okay, that post title doesn’t have the same effect as when it is actually spoken, but I imagine you understand where I was going with it! 

I’ve mentioned in previous posts about the fact I’ve been slipping British slang and phrases into my speech and about how sometimes the Brit and I speak a different but common language. Most recently, according to the Brit, I have begun to use a new arsenal of American-English words that he has never heard before. It is very funny to see him look at me quizzically while I fumble my way through explaining, for example, what a ‘jagger bush’ is.

Not only have there been new words, but our pronunciation of words has caused fits of laughter between the two of us and many ‘lessons’ as I try to learn how to ‘properly’ (depending on which of us you ask!) pronounce certain words.

I realize this might not be as interesting to everyone else, but it really does show how even though the U.S. was born from England that we really are different in many ways. As I said to a friend of mine the other day, “Oh, the joys of a bi-cultural relationship!” But still, I thought it would be fun to share, so you can better understand what I am writing about.

Jagger Bush

This might be a western Pennsylvania thing, but I’ve always referred to bushes with thorns (I am not talking about rose bushes) as ‘jagger bushes.’ One day, we were on a walk and I said, “Watch out for that jagger bush!” And, the Brit just looked at me and then proceeded to ask me multiple times what I had said. This type of bush is referred to as a bramble in the UK. I’ll stick to jagger bush.

Swamp Ass

Ha! This is a common side effect of exercising in humidity in which your bum gets very sweaty – sorry! We had come back from a run and I said something about having ‘some serious swamp ass.’ Cue the confused looks then my explanation followed by lots of laughter! The Brit now gets a kick out of using it!

Graham v. Gram

Apparently, I don’t say ‘Graham’ or ‘gram’ correctly. I am led to believe this is true because I have said both in front of multiple people and those people have asked me to repeat myself. I have actually taken to just spelling the words now, which is very often because gram is a frequently used unit of measurement here. Also, why do graham crackers (except at American Soda) not exist here? I made a cheesecake for the Brit’s birthday and it called for a graham cracker crust. This led to an intense 3 grocery store search for the elusive crackers with no success. I finally settled on using ginger snaps, which worked just as good, but still — no graham crackers! I also had a conversation with an English friend who travels to the U.S. for work on a regular basis and at a conference she attended, she was blown away by the s’mores bar/buffet they had set up during the conference break! She was trying to explain graham crackers to me, since she didn’t know what they were…it was pretty funny!

Craig

I pronounce this men’s name like I pronounce the name ‘Greg.’ Again, I am apparently mistaken in my pronunciation.

Other Words That Don’t Always Come Out As They Should

I say ‘water’ and people hear ‘latte.’

Those of us from the U.S. often replace the double ‘t’ in a word with more of a double ‘d’ sound. I notice it so much more here and find that I feel silly trying to pronounce the the double ‘t’s’ more clearly, in words like ‘butter’ or ‘nutter’ (yes, I say ‘nutter’ now).

***********************

You have no idea the amount of time we will spend where I will ask the Brit to pronounce these words and I try to mimic what he is saying. So far, my attempts have been futile as it usually just ends in us laughing at the whole situation and my extreme seriousness in trying to learn how to ‘properly’ say things.

So, that’s that! I think I’ll try to keep these posts going when new words and phrases come up that cause us confusion.

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10 thoughts on “You say tomato, I say tomato.

  1. I love it! And I can so relate. Sometimes it’s like my husband and I speak a different language. “Wadder” is his pet peeve. My pet peeve is when people drop the t’s all together and say “Wa-uh.” Please keep these posts coming.

    Selena

  2. Oh this made me laugh a lot, especially because of the conversations I have with my Californian sister-in-law.
    On holiday in Cali I once spent about 5 minutes asking for ‘water’ in a drive-through and the woman kept telling me ‘we don’t have that’. When I put on a (very bad) American accent and asked for ‘wudder’ (I know, not really how it’s pronounced…) I got what I wanted!

    • Always fun, isn’t it?! It keeps me very amused. Water is definitely one of the worst on both sides of the pond, and I laughed about how you had to pronounce it in your American accent because Richard has had to do it before as well when in the States!

  3. Ah, Craig and Graham! I try to avoid becoming friends with anybody with those names 😉 I think I actually have down the British pronunciation of Craig but I feel awkward saying it.

  4. I’ve always done a funny flattening to some of my “a” sounds (I blame it on having midwestern parents but being raised in the South), so I do say “Crayg”- but I’ve had many a conversation discussing the “tt” sound, as I’m a classic Southern glottal-stop user (I say “roh-in” for “rotten”). It doesn’t help that Paul’s degree is in linguistics, so he’s perfectly happy to tell me when I’m saying things incorrectly.

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