Thursday, June 11, 2009

Speaking the Queen's English

When my Sister K doesn't understand something I have said, or, more often written (eg. in email), she asks me if what I was saying was "in British", because she doesn't "speak British".

Well, I guess I DO "speak British".

Tonight, I was casually looking at a new book by Phillip Pullman that I had purchased from and immediately focused in on the word "wrench" on the first page. My brain did the immediate translation - "spanner". I thought, "Something is wrong here. That word should be 'spanner.'" Hmmm. I flipped to the first few pages to find, sure enough, "First American Edition." Ha, knew it.

I still find it funny to glance back through the earlier Harry Potter books, which are translated into American English (the later ones aren't, for the most part.) It is funny reading the word "sweater", which I know would read "jumper" in the English edition. Lorry, lift, roundabout - my brain makes the adjustments. What I didn't realize is to what extent it has become unconscious.

They say that you will know when you are proficient in another language because you will sometimes dream in that language. I wonder if, tonight, I will dream of spanners, torches, and jumpers.


  1. I sometimes dream in sign language. And it's all correct, too!

  2. I wonder how often one actually dreams of spanners, torches and jumpers.... I am trying to recreate a context here.... now let me see....

    cant really think of anything legal actually. Spanners in dreams have little to do with nuts and bolts. More often a blunt instrument and torches also belong to hoodlums. Jumpers are usually worn by victims invariable tucked away and forgotten in some boot.



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