Oh. A power outlet.

The Writer has gone global. We’re now in New York. We’ve been here a week or so and it’s just great. The people are friendly, the cabs are cheap and we feel like we’re on a film set about 60 per cent of the time. But it’s taking a bit of time to get used to the language difference.

We knew there’d be one. But we perhaps didn’t expect to leave quite so many befuddled Americans in our wake as we move about Manhattan.

We’re bamboozling people in two ways:

  1. using words that just don’t seem to exist here
  2. using English words instead of the American English versions.

In the first instance we’ve discovered words like ‘doddle’, ‘dodgy’, ‘faff’, ‘bowled over’, ‘chivvy’ and ‘get on’ make no sense here. (We’re now on a mission to introduce ‘doddle’ into the local lexicon.)

Secondly, we thought after years of watching American TV we knew all the American English we needed, like ‘elevator’, ‘sidewalk’, ‘restroom’ and ‘fannypack’. But here are a few of the words we’ve used so far that have resulted in some confusion/concern/comical mimes.

In workshops

We said:   We should've said:

Easy peasy   It’s a snap

Fancy       Like to try

Knackered   Tired

Waffle       Talk on and on

Twee       (We’re still not sure)

Out and about

The most confused conversation was all about a plug. Who knew ‘plug’ was so intrinsically British? We tried asking for a plug. Then tried, ‘plug socket’, ‘power socket’ and finally got to ‘power outlet’. Bingo.

So, what’s going to be next? What seemingly innocuous word is going to get us resorting to doing charades on the street? Or worse, what words might offend? We could do with your help.

What are the words we should look out for in the next few weeks?

Let us know on twitter @thewriter #thewriterNYC.

0 min read, posted in Culture, by Admin, on 10 Apr 2012