Lost in Translation

London and I have this great story so far:  A mainly french-canadian moi and its many dialects and regional accents get along well, so far.  We gather at pubs, tube stations, shops and streets, and just have a blast with laughs, discussions, exchanges and whatnot.   But here are a few things that have come across that have left me perplexed so far, and that I just, for the life of me, cannot bring myself to replicate:

1.  “I will be right back, I’m just going for a quick wee”

Really? Do I need to know you’re going to take a piss?  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m far from being a prude.  I’ve often been the one with the inappropriate sense of humour amongst my friends, but this is something I would never a) say on the first date b) say to the waitress at the pub.  I’ve heard this one too many times, from 25 year old frat-boy-like figures, to lunch-break-taking-business men.

2. On that same note, “I’m going to the loo”

Loo is really polite!  It is the exact opposite of going for a wee!! But I just cannot seem to say the word “loo” without cringing a little. So far, I am still going to the washroom.  Occasionally, I go to the toilet.

3. Lemonade 

Contrary to the popular North American belief, no, lemonade is not made out of lemons.  It is a simple way to call “7 up” or “sprite” beverages.  Although, I have found out, that if the adjective “fresh” precedes the “lemonade” you are almost guaranteed to receive a glass of lemonade (the one made out of actual lemons).

4. Not tipping

People here wait for their 2 pence worth of change…every penny counts.  There seems to be no tipping etiquette, unlike in North America, where you tip for every individual drink you may get in a pub! I’m not simply referring to struggling students/charity shop looking hipsters, but to everyone!  I am not generalising here, a fair minority of 1% of english people tip. The majority: from business men, to sleazy men who may flirt with you, to millionaires like Lisa Stansfield (whom I served and who did not tip me)  just don’t tip. Why? I really don’t know!  The hospitality service wages here are definitely not higher here than the ones in North America.

Hm…what else?

5. Swallowing letters

A week or so ago, I had this same exact conversation:

Person: “Do you sell “b’0’alls?

Me: Balls?!

Person: No, b-o-alls.

Me: Huh? Bowls of what?

Person You know B’o’alls!

Me: Yes bowls of what?!

Person: B-o-alls of alcohol!

Me: You mean like pitchers?!

Person: no no like b-o-alls of Jack Daniels, or of Smirnoff


Now there are certain British accents that I have a very hard time with, and that is one of them.  It is not BuTTer it is  BuhA. It is not BoTTle it is Boahl.

What can I say, sometimes, a girl’s gotta concentrate real hard!

6. “You alright?

I recently met this english girl, she did a year abroad, ironically in my home university.  She told me this story:  She would always approach one of her residence mates with “Hey you alright”, her friend became more and more distant towards her, until one day, she just snapped.  “Why must you always ask if I’m alright!? Do I really not look okay?” My new friend then proceeded to explain that “You alright” was a british way of saying “Hey how’s it going.” She was just being friendly, meant no harm!


2 Comments Add yours

  1. hahaha, love this! Especially as I’m guilty of most of them! ❤

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