Magazine topic: 
Life around the world

Something French and fried ... my experience of American English

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When I was ten years old I went to the USA to visit some family friends. We travelled around California - Los Angeles, San Francisco - and Las Vegas. I noticed something funny about the way everyone spoke English. I remember thinking, 'This is the way they speak in films!' The only times I had really heard an American accent before were when I watched films such as Mean Girls and Freaky Friday. Most of the films I watched when I was a child were American.

One moment I remember very clearly was at the beginning of the holiday, when my friend asked me if I wanted to order 'French fries'. I couldn't imagine what French fries were. What was fried and French?! Snails? Cheese? She was amazed that I had never tried them and she ordered a portion for us to share. When the waiter brought us some chips, I asked her where the French fries were. She pointed to the plate of chips! Later that week she said she was going to buy some 'chips' from the supermarket. She came out with a packet of crisps! I was very confused.

During that holiday we were also offered 'biscuits and gravy' with our lunch. This was a very strange idea to me, because in England biscuits are sweet. Gravy is a salty, meat-based sauce. I later realised that 'biscuits' in America are savoury snacks. What we call 'biscuits', they call 'cookies'.

I was also embarrassed when a stranger told me she liked my 'pants'. I remember thinking, 'How can she see my underwear!?' My mum then told me that they call 'pants' what we call 'trousers', the outer clothing that you wear on your legs!

I was disgusted when I saw an 'eggplant' pizza on the menu in a restaurant. Eggs do not grow on plants, I thought. What on earth could an 'egg plant' be? Something eggy and leafy? My dad ordered this pizza and it was covered in aubergines. I asked him where the 'egg plant' was. He laughed and pointed to the aubergines. 'They call this “eggplant” in America!' he told me.

Although the same 'language' may be spoken in different countries, there are likely to be many differences, not just in vocabulary but also in spelling, grammar and pronunciation! I think part of the excitement of learning a language is learning about the differences that exist in how it is spoken in different places.


Are you more familiar with American or British English?

Is your language spoken in more than one country or region? What are some of the differences in how it is spoken?


TR790's picture
TR790 26 May, 2020 - 18:58

I study British English but I am comfortable with both languages. My language is spoken in Kolkata which is a city of India. Well, they use more formal language than we do in our country.

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LoniSnowfnuggi's picture
LoniSnowfnuggi 9 May, 2018 - 07:42

Im more familiar with american food.
And my language is only spoken in Denmark, but norwegian sound a lot like it :D
Btw my language is danish

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drummernes's picture
drummernes 25 September, 2017 - 16:53

That was so fun to read! You really made me laugh. I wish I could have an experience like that. I'm studying so hard for it! Cause I can only go there through exams and my success.

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hadia's picture
hadia 28 June, 2017 - 08:54

Well, we follow British English. But our teacher also tells the differences that in American English.
But I think this happens in many other languages too. One thing may have different names around the regions or many different things may have same name. This is a bit confusing but we have to cope up. ;)

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SLMT's picture
SLMT 27 June, 2017 - 08:54

I'm more familier with American English because it is an office language in my country.I have never heard eggpland is called aubergines.That's my first time I've heard it. My mother language is only spoken in my country.But there're a lot of different languages in my country too.Some of them are similar and can easily be understood.But some of them are very different and only the people who live in the part of my country can understand.Sometimes,we can't know whatthey are talking about even we are from same country.

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