The Hunchback of Where?
In general I am rarely taken aback by American pronunciation or spelling of words. I recon its because I’m dyslexic and thus pretty much fully at the dictate of my trusty spell checker who, though we are very well acquainted, I have never asked where he’s from.
We all know how it goes, you say tomaato I say tomahto, you call squirrels ‘squirls’ and pedos ‘ped-o-files’ and we can all get along just fine. I mean we are having much bigger mix ups with the other international students than we are with Americans. Upon returning from ‘winter break’ I asked my Spanish friend, “How you been man?” to which he replied, “My bin man? He is ok.”
I have a new Jamaican roommate who, when I shouted at him to hurry up in the shower, I drastically misunderstood his response. Apparently he said “Coming!” but all I heard was an invite into a steamy Caribbean shower. I did not ‘come in,’ instead locking myself in my room until he promised he was fully clothed and didn’t want to bathe with me.
Digger is having trouble as well. To a text from a French girl that said, “see you guys at 8,” he innocuously replied, “Cool beans!” A casual English turn of phrase that means ‘Sure thing’ and is only used by people who wear tight pants and drink mocha-chocha-frapachinos. It was only the next day that we found out that she had, that night, gone to meet us in the local café called Cool Beans. Classic mix-up.
But there is one word that I still can’t hear Americans say without straight away repeating it back to them in my best impression of a Sothern drawl, a French word, in fact the name of a cathedral in Paris and in fact two words. A cathedral in Paris that they would pronounce ‘Note’ (like I would pass a girl in class) ‘Err’ (like the reaction a girl would have to me passing her a note in class) ‘Dame’ (Like Shirley Bassey, Judy Dench or Samantha Mumba) ‘Note-Err-Dame,’ ‘Note-Err-Fucking-Dame!’ the hunchback of NOTE-ERR-FUCKING-DAME!
Winston Churchill – “Britain and the USA are two nations separated by a common language.”