Shedding Britishisms for an American Summer

British to American Flash Cards-4

It is the time of year — late spring — when I must shed the Britishisms that continually seep into my life. Living in the former British colony of Hong Kong and surrounded by people who favour (favor) British English and manners, I naturally switch to their behavior patterns whilst (while) here.

This transformation back to Americanish is necessary because there are a great many Britishisms that, if used by an American in the US, make one look like a total pretentious twat (jerk). And I prefer to spend my summer holiday (vacation) in the US mostly fitting in.

So I will swap Celsius for Fahrenheit. I will stop using forks and knives in the Continental way and I will mock anyone seen eating a hamburger with anything but their bare hands. I will not sign-off any more text messages with an ‘x’ and I will call it a ‘cell’ phone rather than a ‘mobile’ phone.

I will also stop using single quotation marks outside of their rightful purpose which is only ย within existing double quotation marks. I will make this switch henceforth (right now).

I will forget that I know what the word “penultimate” means and I will once again refuse to believe that anyone would use the word “fortnight” outside of a Shakespearean reading.

The transformation has begun. The reward is Tex-Mex, chocolate doughnuts and acceptance come July.


25 responses to “Shedding Britishisms for an American Summer

    • The British way is to keep the fork in the left hand, even when you bring the food to your mouth, and use the knife not just to cut but to load food onto the fork. There’s some difference between British and European way, I think, but I haven’t figured it out yet. And I long since gave up on changing my American way of eating. The fork just won’t stay put. The minute my attention wanders, it’s back in my right hand.

      • I think it’s the Europeans who favor keeping the curved fork tines pointing down and shoving the food onto the back of the fork with the knife studiously avoiding stabbing the food? Never picked that one up.

    • Ellen Hawley is right: fork stays in the left hand and knife stays in the right. It’s far more convenient than the American cross-cross style.

  1. Hi Expatlingo,
    I really enjoyed reading this!
    I studied British English at school in Nepal so I still use words such as dustbin, lift, toilet, petrol etc and spell things with “u”s but due to too much American media influence, I noticed that I use American words such as guys, movie theater, popsicles, candies, fries etc.. So I speak and write a mix of both but definitely find it far easier to understand and follow American/Canadian accent than ‘British’ ones. Are you from England, by the way? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I lived in Cambridge, England for three years, but am an American who would not normally dream of writing harbour, theatre or to start a calendar week with Monday. After 11 years living overseas it’s all a bit of a mixture now. I do try to reign it in when I’m ‘back home’ during the summer!

  2. Ha, I recently used “fortnight” with an American friend and they told me it hadn’t been used since Lincoln’s day ๐Ÿ˜‰ Good luck! I get confused sometimes about which is which these days. Or if maybe something is valid in American (wrong) English ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Can I just, like, pepper everything I say with, like, “like”? Is that cool? And do I need to be prepared to start a fistfight anytime politics comes up?

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