Language is a strange thing, words are used in different ways in different cultures. The locals here in America still laugh at the things I say, last month it was “Punter”, by which I rudely meant prospective customers.
But pants is one of the funny ones, what does that mean? Always a problem if an American says you have nice pants. And please don’t react when someone compliments your wife on having a nice fanny.
Not that they would. Sex is something that doesn’t exist in America. A singer “accidentally” pops a very small amount of breast out on TV, during a strange event called the Super Bowl, and everyone is still talking about it two years later. Bizarre, somehow they want to protect their children from these things.
Our Jake is off to a school prom tonight, huge palaver, an hour and a half of photos with their mates before they even get on the bus to take them to dinner. And they all get searched getting on to the bus, 17 year old kids, but of course they can’t have an alcoholic drink until they are 21. The problem is they go to college at 18, are they really not going to drink? Away from home, over protected and fussed over, but in theory they still aren’t allowed to drink.
But of course they do, the licensing laws here just do not make sense.
Cars are close to sacred beings in some parts of America, but at least here in Denver they aren’t any different than they are in England. In fact there are considerably less high end Porsches and Ferraris than you would find in Oxford or London, but otherwise the cars are very similar. However take a short flight to Texas, and you find a different world. Huge trucks, enormous wheels, and 12 lane highways. I love Texas, and Texans are so positive that it can be very refreshing, but almost to a man, they don’t get English cynicism at all.
In most American cities there are at least two freeways to get from A – B. In theory the grid layout makes navigation in America easier, and certainly cities like New York are much easier than London or Paris. But GPS…..sorry Sat Nav is still a boon when travelling in America, even if no Americans understand they didn’t invent it.
If you really want a fun argument, try and explain that they didn’t invent mobile…..sorry Cell Phones.
But back to Sat Nav. Denver has a strange problem with street names. We live in Galena, and there are 6 of these in the Denver Metropolitan Area. Goodness knows how many Fulton’s, Ida’s and Geneva’s there are, they are everywhere. It is as if they got a job lot of road name signs and they just never managed to buy any more.
So you have to be very careful when looking for a street, you have to know the post code……sorry Zip code, and area. The situation is further complicated by the mania for redevelopment. So a street is named, split up, but not renamed. Last month I was in an unfamiliar area, about 3 miles from our house, and found myself on Havana Street. Another of those repeating names, but no, I realised it was the same street which passes the end of our enclave….sorry, estate. The only problem was they broke up Havana, with a reservoir and a state park. Some roads stop totally at the freeway and start again on the other side – with no connecting tunnel or bridge. It all makes driving very complex.
Early last year I came over to Denver to look for an office, I needed an address for our Visa application. I had been to the Denver Tech Centre area many times over the previous 6 years, but you learn to rely on Sat Nav (sorry GPS). I had spoken to a managed office provider locally and arranged a visit to view the premises. So I left my 9th floor hotel room, went down in the lift, and got in to my car in the car park. I keyed the address in to the Sat Nav, and 6 or 7 minutes later I was parking at the Regus office centre. Up in the lift to the 9th Floor, and the manager proudly then showed me their best available room. I stared out at a fantastic view of the mountains, and ………straight into my hotel room which was exactly next door, 50 yards away. No, technology doesn’t always give you the best result.
Some of the oddest language differences have appeared in the last month. Remember the green stuff you put in stews for flavor and garnish? It’s called Erbs. Every time Heather asks for kitchen roll, the American ladies laugh out loud.
But the one that cracks us all up is the Italian cheese you put on pasta in nice restaurants. No it is not ParmeSHAN, why oh why would it be called that?
Two countries, one language, yes, but actually it is a very different culture here. There are 6 churches within half a mile of our house, priorities are different. We are adapting slowly, and there are huge benefits, great food, fantastic service, and some really nice people, but we still really miss our lovely open friends.
And when you think of America, please don’t ever make the mistake of thinking we are very similar. Two very different cultures, with one messed up language. Remind me to write about Ben and the Spelling Bee contest (very Lisa Simpson) some time.