Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cor Blimey Gov'ner

Since I moved to Calgary, people have shown an interest in where I'm from. They've asked, am I Australian? Am I Kiwi? Am I from some random place in the UK? I tell them no, I'm from London. And they nod knowingly, saying "Ah yes I was going to say London."

Actually the truth is (but don't tell anyone) I'm from Essex - a county just outside London. And if you tell anyone that knows the meaning of the word Essex girl that you're from Essex, they will instantly morph into a grinning idiot and begin in a highly annoying sing-song voice "You're. An. Essex. Girl! You're. An. Essex. Girl!" And then I'll stand there rolling my eyes and saying "haha yes very funny. No, I don't own a pair of white stilettos, sorry to disappoint you". Which is why I rarely tell anyone I'm from Essex. London sounds better. And besides I did live in London for years before moving to Calgary. And I was born there. So really it's true.

Anyway. When I arrived in Calgary, I stuck out like a sore thumb with my strange accent and peculiar words. And I wouldn't have bothered changing a thing but I wanted the Canadian folks to stop staring at me as if I had just descended onto earth in a spaceship.

For instance, I'd be chatting away, and someone would interrupt me with "uh, what did you just say?" and I'd say "I said I nearly lost the plot" (as in, lost my mind) and then they would fall about laughing and be all "oh ha ha he he ha ha oh that is SO cute!".

And then there was the time J took me to a hockey game and I yelled at the Anaheim Ducks for being "RUBBISH". And told the Flames to "GIVE IT SOME WELLY". And a few people in the seats ahead of us made a point of turning to see who was making the strange remarks.

And the time I wrote "ta!" at the end of an email to a colleague. He was like, what the frick is "ta"? Thanks. It means thanks.

And then I was playing golf with a client and I accused someone of being "jammy". Oh boy did I get hell for that one. (Jammy = lucky)

And when I said I was totally "sloshed" last night. (Drunk)

And when I told someone I had a "stonking" headache. (Big)

...Let alone all the other little words that are perfectly normal to me but which mean sweet fanny adams to people here:

Trousers (pants)
Knickers (panties)
Lift (elevator)
Flat (apartment)
Cuppa (cup of tea)
Faffed around (wasted time)
Boot (trunk)
Crikey (holy crap)
Bloody nora (holy crap)
Dodgy (iffy)
Kip (nap)
Nutter (weirdo)

So I changed a little, so as not to be so alien.

Now I say, "that sucks!", "awesome!", "holy crap!", "garbage", "groceries" and "for sure!".

Only thing is, with all this adapting and altering and acclimatizing, a certain group of not-so subtle people noticed: my friends and family in England. I'd be on the phone and suddenly there'd be a snort at the other end, or someone would actually stop me in my tracks and blurt in my ear "Bloody hell Sarah! You sound SO Canadian!"

So really I can't win, I'm destined to be laughed at whichever way I speak.

My only advice to others in this situation is this: if some Tom, Dick or Harry should give you a bit of Barney Rubble while you're on the dog and bone, don't be a merchant banker, just tell them you're cream crackered so as to avoid everything going a bit Pete Tong. Eh?
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..... Carmen said...

This post made me smile and laugh. I'm going to jot down everything you wrote so I can outbeat my SIL in "who can pretend to be the most British" (roll on the floor laughing).

*And, I don't think you should give up those words at all. I wouldn't laugh at you. And I think it would be incredibly charming to hear Matthew say them! To be you is more charming than to be us. What is so special about "Canadian" english?

Lisa said...

That was a right Luvvly-jubbly read. I may have to nick a few of those expressions.

Cheerio! :)

Loukia said...

Hilarious! You're so funny! I love hearing the 'English' words - you should continue to use them! Even when you blog!

Maria @BOREDmommy said...

Now this is why I adore watching Coronation Street - I love trying to figure out what everyone is saying. My favorite word would have to be chuffed, although bollocks is a close second. Can't wait to read more of your blog!!

Maria @BOREDmommy

James (SeattleDad) said...

Too hilarious. Sounds like they should offer Essex as a foreign language option in schools.

Maternal Tales said...

Sorry haven't had a moment to read your post - but just wanted to say there's an award for you over at mine! xx

Juli Ryan said...

Thanks for this post. In NZ, people love to hear me say "awesome" and "garbage" and "that sucks". I'm so exotic!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I think a few of those have infiltrated the U.S. vernacular. I've definitely used the term sloshed on a regular basis.

Like all good Americans I just LOVE British accents. It all sounds so civilized. Where else in the world do children use words like "brilliant" and "lovely"?

And I've made it my mission in live to NEVER use the word awesome unless I'm being ironic.

Blahbitty Blahbitty Blahbitty Blah! said...

British accents are wonderful to listen to. You sound so proper. I would much prefer to hear you without being "americanized", but then again, I made need translation. I guess that would probably get a little frustrating and annoying for you and you would have to promptly ditch me as a friend. Bummer. By the way, "For sure" sounds very 80s. But, I do say awesome frequently to my sons. They really like "awesome" and "cool".

Canadian Bald Guy said...

The first time you correctly use "eh" in a sentence UNKNOWINGLY, then you'll officially become a Canuck with the rest of us.


Loukia said...

Hey! Thanks for your comment on La Dolce Vita! xo

Paging Doctor Mommy said...

That was perfect! I may not understand all of the slang from England, but I totally get what you mean when you say the Canadians give you strange looks. I get those same looks when I talk with my South Carolina accent up here in Vancouver. Everyone asks me to repeat myself. And they also ask me if I'm from Australia or New Zealand!

Mom Mayhem says: said...

Heeehe-Love this post! I think british accents sound lovely. Although I don't necessarily know what they are saying sometimes ;)
I know someone else from Essex-Oh I think I mentioned that before thought-Didn't I?

Jenn said...

Hehe. I got a big giggle from this post. I grew up in Okotoks (just south of Calgary) but have been living in Sydney, Australia with my boyfriend & our 16 month old son for a year now. I get so annoyed when people point out my accent or can never understand me. I too have resorted to using ridiculous aussie words just to fit in. When I tell people I'm from Canada they all say I sound like the people on Degrassi & it drives me crazy! Anyways, its nice to meet someone online that lives at home & is experiencing much of the same things as I am :)

Kim said...

oh, I giggled so hard while reading this!
I love languages/dialects/accents- I SO wish I could be a fly on the wall and listen to your accents!