Language Barrier (Part 2)

*Following my first Language Barrier post, I received a few negative reviews. Let me take a moment to clear something up before I begin the second. Any differences in language that I discuss only pertain to the area that I live in, Leicester. I don’t know if other areas of the country use the same words, though I would assume that in much the same way that different states in the US have different accents and slang words, different counties in England have as well. Also, I mentioned a word that my in-laws use during the first LB post, let me say now that I didn’t mean that was a phrase that is used in all parts of England, only that my in-laws in particular use it, and yes, I am certain that I am not misunderstanding them. When participating in a public blog one has to expect a degree of negativity from the general public. The criticism I received was not posted directly to the blog, but rather on public forums where there was no guarantee of my seeing the comments. As much as I’m aware that criticism is to be expected, I’m constantly surprised at the level of nastiness some people stoop to when they have a computer screen to hide behind. So please, if you are offended in any way by something I’m posting here, remember that it’s all intended to be innocent, good fun. I am in no way an expert on the English language and I am fully aware that it was England, and not America, that came first. Also, try to remember that the person whose blog you are anonymously commenting on is a real person with real feelings.


Did you know that in England, rather than calling the big area designated for parkingParking your car in a public place a “parking lot”, they call it a “car park”? I don’t know about you, but that always brings to mind an image of many cars going down a slide or swinging on a swing set  I don’t recall ever getting a funny look from someone for saying parking lot, but for the purpose of blending in and avoiding the question of where I’m from, I tend to just stick to the usual phrase of car park.

While I’m on the subject of cars, I’ll mention another travel related word. When I first started traveling on the bus by myself a couple of months ago, I confidently stepped on the bus and told the driver that I needed a round trip ticket to the city center. “Pardon?” Was his response, “You mean return?” Of course! I had forgotten that when a person wants a ticket to go somewhere and return to their original destination it’s not called a round trip ticket, it’s called a return ticket. That was slightly embarrassing.

Okay, I’m going there. I’m going to talk about the bathroom. When people need the toilets460bathroom in England, they usually just call it the toilet. That always seemed gross to me. It sounds so much cleaner and polite to call it a bathroom, even when there’s no bath in the room. I’m almost used to asking where the toilet is if I’m in public and in search of one. Almost. Of course I’m sure most Americans know that the Brits also call it a loo. It can also be called a bog. Those words aren’t strictly for the bathroom itself either, they are also used for the toilet paper, which instead becomes loo roll or bog roll.

Another thing found in bathrooms (and kitchens. And bedrooms, if you’re like me and live in a house that has a bedroom that was once a bathroom, but for some reason the re-modelers left the sink.) is a sink. We all know sinks have faucets, right? Wrong. They’re taps! Of course I knew this word before I moved here, I’ve had plenty of tap water in my life, but I don’t think I realized that was the word for faucet here. Chris was pretty confused the first time I told him the faucet was dripping.

We’re sort of in kitchen territory already, so let’s talk about food! I am crazy for chicken. Pretty much any kind of chicken is my kind of chicken. I really love chicken oven chips sc largesandwiches. My husband’s always acted like I’m a weirdo when I say I want a chicken sandwich. It is strictly a chicken burger to him. A chicken sandwich would be on sandwich bread instead of a bun. That one makes sense, so I can’t argue with him too much about it. Speaking of buns, they’re not called buns here, they’re called cobs. What? Cobs?! Like corn on the cob? Nope. Maybe there are some people here who call them buns, but my husband is not one of those people. He had no idea what I was talking about when I told him we needed to pick up some buns from the grocery store. Do you want fries with your chicken burger (on a cob)? Ask for chips! French fries are known as chips here. You may be patting yourself on the back because you already knew that one (I mean, who hasn’t heard of fish and chips?), but did you know that what Americans call chips are known as crisps here? They can’t be called chips, that word’s already taken by french fries. Crisps it is. One last food item: Cookies! Cookies are known as biscuits here. There are cookies here, but I haven’t figured out the difference. I think the difference is in the hardness of them. Biscuits are hard and crunchier than cookies. They’re all the same in my book though.

A bag of Walker's ready salted. Notice beneath the word salted where it says "potato crisps." Does this bag look familiar? That's because it looks almost exactly like Lay's brand potato chips. Walker's is the UK brand name of Lay's. Lay's

A packet of Walker’s ready salted. Notice beneath the word salted where it says “potato crisps.” Does this bag look familiar? That’s because it looks almost exactly like Lay’s brand potato chips. Walker’s is the UK brand name of Lay’s. Lay’s is also known as Chipsy in Egypt, Poca in Vietnam, Tapuchips in Isreal, and Sabritas in Mexico.

That concludes this chapter of Language Barrier. I hope you enjoyed!


3 thoughts on “Language Barrier (Part 2)

  1. Pingback: Language Barrier (part 3) | Three Ladies and Their Babies

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