Friday, October 22, 2010

Say what?

Have you ever considered how very puzzling the English language can be? Aside from the fact there's Aussie English, British English, Canadian English and American English, the idioms both shared because of common literature and background and idioms unique to the various countries make things more difficult yet.

In the past four years I've spent time on the internet "talking" with new friends from Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, and Canada. Just when I'm sure I have the communication skills down, one of them will pitch a new expression into the pot.

Today it was "knickers". For me, knickers calls up a vision of long-legged pantalets women wore in the 1800s. But overseas, knickers are what we in the States call panties. That's quite a different picture.

What do you suppose a budgie smuggler is?

I have it on good authority it's a very brief men's bathing suit...with emphasis on brief. Other words...bathers, thongs, trunk (car), bonnet (also car), petrol...

We no doubt also have puzzling words in our lexicon. Occasionally, someone will ask exactly what this word or that word means. So our shared common language is not so shared. And definitely not so common.



  1. I was amused to learn that "thongs" in Australia are flip-flops. Certainly gave me pause the first time I heard it :)

  2. I hear ya, Anny. Talking to Natalie Dae has been a very enlightening experience for me. She'll say something and I'll email back, "translate into American, please". LOL And I've done the same with her.

    Had the same vision of those "knickers" she blogged about as you. Sometimes it's easy to get the meaning, others--not so easy. And It can get pretty colorful on both sides of the Atlantic too.

    I've noticed that the words/expressions are shorter on the Brit/Aussie side while on the American side, we seem to drag it out with full blown sayings. I've laughed quite a bit at some of the expressions I'm learning.

  3. I'm very careful not to speak full blown Aussie to any yank but you as no one else gets it. And you know if everyone spoke Aussie the world would be a better place...did you know 'togs' and 'cozzies' mean swimsuit too?

  4. Oh, cool. I forgot about cozzies!

  5. Isn't that the truth?
    Great blog!


    Cozzies! We say that here too. Togs here, though, are clothes in general. "Gear" means the same. But also, if someone said: Get your laughing gear around that... it means mouth.

    I didn't realise how many sayings we had here in Britain until I was frequently asked: WHAT did you just say?