About Alexandra Heep

About Alexandra Heep: The internet has allowed allowed Alexandra to maintain a semblance of life when encountering an unexpected, lingering health crisis. The Internet is a lifeline which not only allows her to remain connected to friends, but also survive, via writing.While Alexandra Heep is her pen name, she does not hide behind it. Instead, she used it to brand herself on the Internet and to create opportunities.

Alexandra published her first book, a collection of her best poems, on July 11, 2012. You can buy it at Lulu.com

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

There is English, and Then There is English

When I first moved to the U.S.A., I was not too worried about the language. While English is not my native tongue, I studied it from 5th grade on. However, once I got here people laughed at me and found me hard to understand. To them, the proper English I had learned in school in my home country sounded like I was talking with my nose clogged up. To me, they sounded like they were talking around a wad of chewing gum.

However, after a while I adjusted my words to sound just like them and all was good with the world – until I chose to visit the adjoining neighbor, Canada. That is when I learned that Canadians put tyres on their cars instead of tires. There is even a popular store chain called Canadian Tyre.

At first, I thought someone had made a mistake putting up the sign. I was even more confused when my friend brought me inside and I saw everything for sale, except for tires – or tyres. Furthermore, in Canada you do not appear in court, but in front of the Crown. What makes it even more confusing is that the Crown wears a wig, instead of the other way around, eh.

Years later, I moved from the northern part of the country to the southern part of the United States. On my first day at work there, my supervisor opened a drawer and told me to put my pocketbook in there. I was confused. In my head, I translated pocket and book. Wearing a dress, I had no pockets and I certainly was not carrying a book around.

Since the only thing I was carrying was a large shoulder bag, I tentatively put it in the drawer. This seemed to satisfy her, so I made a mental note that pocketbook means purse. My poor six-year old daughter did not fare much better. During her first trip to the convenience store with her father, they asked for pop. She was confused as the clerk tried to sell her ice cream.

After some word wrangling they figured out that pop up north was soda in the south. Well, not all over the south. I found out later that in the Deep South all soda pop is called Coke. Luckily, I have never been to one of those states to order a cold drink. How can you order a Pepsi or a Sprite when all carbonated drinks are called Coke?

I also found out that evening meals up north were called dinner, but in the south are called supper, while lunch takes place before 2pm (in both places). However, often at work my mealtime would not be until after 2 pm, but was still called lunch even if I was eating dinner, or supper – depending if it was before my move or after.

I was fine, until I was talking to a friend on Facebook who is on from England. He told me he was having tea, and I proudly announced I knew that that was supper. He said not really, it was dinner. So, the proper definition would be that dinner is a meal between 2 and 5 pm, while supper is between 7 and 11 pm. Except for England of course. I thought I had him when I asked him what if they had tea with their tea. Well, that is double tea time of course! Taking a deep breath I asked if dessert was called the same over there. No, that was pudding for the common folk and only the rich had dessert. In America pudding is a snack, not a dessert, but I was not going to go there.

By that time I felt like I was in the Abbett and Costello skit about who’s on first. But, a Scottish friend entered the discussion and we somehow got talking about drinking whiskey. I asked him if he Scottish whiskey was Scotch and he said no. He said that Scotch was a brand of whisky, but called whiskey in the States. By then, I really could have used some.

We proceeded to talk about music and my English friend said they were selling things, including music, out of car boots. I figured that boots are trunks in the US and said that over here we wear boots. He said that is fine, because over there, in England, they wear trunks. But, bootlegs aren’t named that way because they come out of car trunks (or boots), but because they used to be recorded via players inside of boots, the apparel.

I would say I have come full circle with English, but have not been to Australia yet. Oh crikey.


Conny said...

I can sympathize Alex. Having arrived in Canada from South Africa, I experienced a bit of trouble too with certain words.
Cool drink turned out to be pop.
A booth is a trunk.
A biscuit is a cookie.
Sweets is candy.
A pullover is a sweater.

Confusing hu.

Raymond Alexander Kukkee said...

I'm a real Canadian, and boots go on your feet, candy is sweet stuff, pop is any soft drink a.k.a. soda, coke is Coca-Cola, a cookie IS a cookie unless it's a soda-biscuit, in which case it can also be a scone,or a 'crumpet', that's Brit for sure, and a sweater is a pullover or Cardigan. Dinner is usually at 12:00pm, supper is at 6:00, tea time is any time and a cup of joe or coffee is at Timmy's with doughnuts, or American donuts....I like all of the English language whether it be Brit, Canuck, Aussie, or Yankee--it's just semantics, as long as there are at least SOME of us that understand that fewer translations are NOT 'more better', but LESS interesting. By the way, a trunk is a trunk, ie. the back end of a car, but also the front end of an elephant, a nose, I suppose, not an easy thing to do! ":)

Anonymous said...

Very funny post! In my part of PA we say the words soda (for soft drink) and bag (a container for groceries). We moved to the mid-west, and the first stop at the grocery store my husband was asked if he wanted his "pop in a sack". He was sure he had just been propositioned!
So your English-language dilemmas happen to natives, too!

Olivia said...

Love this post ..This is what makes life fun..we all want the same things even if we call them by different names. Good day Alex..