How times have changed

Discussion in 'Old & Bold' started by REMEbrat, Oct 17, 2012.

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  1. Years ago at an airshow I bought a reprint of a WW2 book, Instructions For American Servicemen in Britain 1942. I picked it up yesterday and had a quick look through and realised just how different Britain 2012 is from Britain 1942.
    'The British have phrases and colloquialisms of their own that may sound funny yo you. You can make just as many boners in their eyes. It isn't a good idea, for instance, to say "bloody" in mixed company in Britain - it is one of their worst swear words. To say "I look like a bum" is offensive to their ears, for to the British this means you look like your own backside. It isn't important - just a tip if you are trying to shine in polite society.'
    'The British make much of Sunday. All the shops are closed, most of the restaurants are closed, and in the small towns there is not much to do. You had better follow the example of the British and try to spend Sunday afternoon in the country.'
    'Almost before you meet the people you will hear them speaking "English". At first you may not understand what they are talking about and they may not understand what you say. The accent will be different from what you are used to, and many of the words will be strange, or apparently wrongly used. But you will get used to it.'
  2. Still in print. Advice included, "watch out when the English get polite", "never gamble or brawl with the English, they've been at war for years and will beat you", and the most touching was about women in uniform, "if she's wearing medals, it wasn't for knitting the most socks".

    One of my most borrowed books by friends.
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  3. In the 80s a group of BAe tooling engineers, from our drawing office, went to Mc Donnnell Douglas to help with the AV8-B tooling. One evening they went out for a meal and getting fed up with fast food outlets plate sized steaks etc they met up in a local bar to discuss where and what to eat. One said 'I sure could murder an Indian' (thinking HOT curry) the rest agreed but the Yanks didnt see the funny side. They got some strange looks.
  4. Oh dear. The two countries separated by a common language!

    Granny and I lived in California with the sprogs during the 80s. Gems included:

    "It's great to get up and stretch your legs walking to pick up a print out. Sitting in that chair all day is making my fanny spread." from one of the secretaries.

    GMOB: "xxx, have you got a rubber please?" (to another secretary).
    "You British guys!. I know what you want. You want an eraser. Sheesh!"
    GMOB: "Do I?"
    When No. 1 son comes home from kindergarten that night and asks his Dad for a rubber he is quickly re-educated.

    Same son makes a cut-out, coloured monkey figure at school one day. GMOB comes home and Granny says, "Ask him what he did at school today." Son proudly display the monkey. "Now ask him what it is," says Granny.
    "It's a chim-pan-zed, daddy. The Americans call them chim-pan-zees, but we say 'zed' don't we."
    Smart kid that!

    Finally (for now!). Same son (No 2 was only a curtain climber!) comes home from school with his reading book for the letter "O". On the back, for mommy and daddy, are the instructions to practice the sound of this letter with junior.
    "But note," they say, "this is the letter 'O' as in 'Orange', not the 'O' as in 'Octopus'."
    We spent a whole weekend going round saying "Orange. Octopus. Orange. Octopus. What's the bleedin' difference?"
    Do you know? (we do now after asking teacher on the Monday!)

  5. Up until I left the Service a couple of months ago, I regularly worked with US diplomats and senior military personnel. We got on well, even though as a 'native' English speaker, it has been heavily influenced by being brought up in the South Pacific. Nonetheless we had a shared understanding of each other's colloquialisms and got on well.

    No so for the spouses. My wife would frequently become infuriated by American 'moms' who would ask her to repeat words and phrases and still show little comprehension (or desire to learn, it seemed), and also thought it was funny to mock English by speaking in a Dick van Dyke-esque Cockney. My wife, albeit from North Riding, is well educated and speaks in RP. Moreover, we have lived in a number of remote overseas locations and between us speak 4 languages (+ English) but we remain amazed how insular many American spouses are - and their ignorance of life outside CONUS. A frequent dinner-party topic was 'how bad Socialised Health Care is' and then quote frankly bolloeaux about the NHS (further infuriated Mrs C who was a nurse before we did all this overseas malarky) - and then complain about the cost of health insurance when they leave the Military or Foreign Service.
  6. RPK


    As far as I'm aware the warnings about politeness were just to keep the American's in check, as to not commit gaffes, rather that because the British were over-polite.

    There's actually a film from the 60s or so (not sure of the name and so can't look up the date) where the Americans are going over all these politeness/language warnings and in the next the next scene the Brits are talking normally and "swearing" casually.
  7. terroratthepicnic

    terroratthepicnic LE Reviewer Book Reviewer
    1. ARRSE Runners

    Is it because the amaricans would pronounce the O in orange as an AAH. As in Aahrange. But the O in octopus is pronounce Ho, as in Hoctopus.
  8. Vice versa, methinks? The "closed O" sound for "aw-rnj", the "open O" sound for "ak-topus".

    And how does a word like "mi-rror" with two syllables become a word with one - "meer"?

    And it took me quite a while to work out what a "furtle" was. I'd never seen them growing in fields or gardens at home.

  9. has some friends leave for the usa in 76 and when we went to visit then in 78 so much had changed!
    we got told how, they the usa had saved out buts in WWII and how we should be so grateful!
    the parents came back to the uk about 10 yrs ago.
    fortunately their children (our childhood friends) stayed their!!