Monday, September 16, 2013

The English Language??

Recently in our YASC Facebook page, a fellow YASCer commented that not only is she learning the local language, but is also finding herself learning British English! A few of us quickly agreed that even the English we're hearing and speaking sounds foreign often, so I thought I'd share with you some of the fun English words I've found that mean completely different things here in South Africa!

In America, a boot is something you wear on your foot in the rain and snow. Although they have rain boots here and sell boots in shoe stores, a boot is generally a word for the trunk of a car! 

Continuing this car theme, remember those traffic lights we have in the States? Here they are called "robots". That is one word substitution that I'm hoping I can bring back to the States with me!

In New York City, you might need to take the underpass in order to get on the right Subway. But here in South Africa, you take the subway to make your train on time! Subway is another word for the path underneath the tracks that gets you to the other side of the station.

If you're lucky enough to be walking around during rush hour traffic, watch out for cars "hooting" at you, because they don't honk! On a related note, on Thursday I was hooted at for the first time and felt like maybe I was a true Capetonian!

On my first trip to the grocery store I went to buy laundry detergent and imagine my surprise when I discovered the word "detergent" does not exist down here! Instead, you can buy washing powder to put into your washer.

Also at the grocery store I noticed some interesting brand differences. My favorite is "Niknaks", basically Cheetos!

There are some interesting time differences as well. For example, "meridian", at 13h00 (That's 1:00pm for those non-military time readers), is not only a time of day but specifies a break in the day where you might have lunch or just take an hour off from whatever you're working on. At the office, it's lunch time, but I've noticed that the students I know who go to UCT all have a break at meridian even though they all have different classes in different departments.

In addition, I've discovered that the word "now" is more complicated than we think!

These differences, while challenging at first, are an easier transition than a full new language. I'm grateful that these words and meanings are the only ones I absolutely need to learn! These geographical differences are not specific to drastic adjustments in location. Over in New Jersey, they call taylor ham "pork roll", and nowhere else in the country has heard of either! Take a look at this video made by one of my favorite authors and Youtubers, John Green, discussing some of the local (United States) differences in language. When have you been taken aback by a word you thought you knew previously in one place but clearly do not understand in a new location?

Thanks for reading! Love and prayers to all those who have been following this journey of mine!

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