Language Barrier (part 3)


“A ladybird just flew into the house!” A ladybird? You mean…a female bird? Nope. It turns out that what is known to Americans as a ladybug, is known to Brits as a ladybird. One recently flew into our open front door and I took a video of my son searching for it and posted it to Facebook. You can hear us calling it a ladybird on the video, and since then I’ve been asked a few times why they call them ladybirds here. I have no idea. I’d guess because they fly, but so do a variety of other insects that weren’t given the distinction of “bird.”


The ladybird flew into our front door, which is located on the ground floor of our house. In England, what Americans would call the first floor is actually called the ground floor. Subsequently, what Americans know as the second floor then becomes the first floor. That confused me a bit when I first moved here and we were in the ground floor flat of our building. Ground floor isn’t so confusing, but calling the second floor the first floor threw me for a loop.


Oh whoops. I said flat. Generally when I’m speaking to an American audience (which statistics show makes up the majority of our readers here at Three Ladies & Their Babies), I’ll stick to American words/phrases/spellings/pronunciations. After living here for 4 years, that becomes harder and harder to do and I often say things the “British” way without giving it a second thought. I think an apartment being called a flat is probably a widely known Brit vs. American language difference, but just in case you didn’t know, now you do. Speaking of flats, houses, or any other type of building which can be rented, did you know that instead of, “For rent,” they actually say something is, “To let,” here in England?

Recently while out on a drive, we were diverted because they were setting up for a celebration of the Diwali lights switch on at the Golden Mile (Leicester has the third largest Hindu population in England and the stretch of Belgrave Road known as the Golden Mile is one of the best places to discover Indian culture and food outside of India itself.) and the flyover was closed. A flyover is what we Americans know of as an overpass. The word flyover amused me when I first moved here, but like most of these different words, I’m used to it now and use it myself.

Hopefully you enjoyed this installment of Language Barrier. Hope you aren’t too gutted (disappointed, upset) by the differences. Cheers (thanks) for reading! 🙂

You can find part one of Language Barrier here and part two here.

* 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, from time to time I may mention a word that my in-laws use. Let me say now that although my in-laws in particular may say these words, that doesn’t mean they are used in all parts of England (they might be, I wouldn’t know!). Let me also add that I do know England came before America and that these posts are meant to be a lighthearted bit of fun. Thank you.


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