Down Under - Winter/Spring 2009 travel blog

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what what is it called?


All of us on board, both passengers and crew, are supposedly speaking English. The language originated in England, but it sure has transmogrified as it has made its way around the globe. We can’t tell the Kiwi’s and Aussies apart when we speak with them; they insist that there are vast differences between them. We've run into some Brits who sounded like Aussies to us as well. Those from Down Under cannot distinguish us from the Canadians. The Canadians tend to be rather insulted when this happens.

We find ourselves sharing meals with all these English speakers and we grope for the right word to communicate what we really mean. We’ve been in Great Britain enough time to have learned many of the words they use differently from ours - candy floss for cotton candy, fizzy water for soda, jumpers for sweaters, tights for nylons, biscuits for cookies, etc. etc. When we talk to Kiwi’s and Aussies we guess that these British words are the ones they would use as well, since they never did share our revolutionary mindset. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Our overpass is a British flyover is an Aussie overbridge. We take hikes, the Kiwi’s trek, the Aussie’s bushwalk. Our band-aids are British plasters and Aussie elastoplasts. When we went to the chemist (drugstore) and asked for plasters, the clerk looked at us as if we were from the moon. Used in context most of these expressions make sense, but we would never say them that way.

Mixed into the mess are the crew for whom English generally is a second language. Our waitress is from Mexico and speaks a fluent, but heavily accented English. She was grateful to see us come; our ears seem better tuned to her accent than our Aussie table mates. Her assistant is Filipino and has yet another version of the Queen’s English. And then we are all dealing with those fancy food words. Chefs name their creations the darndest things in an effort to sound more lah-di-dah. Yesterday we had a dish that came with marrow. Our Mexican waitress had prepared for her serving tasks by consulting her handy food dictionary. When we asked her what marrow was, she gave us a lengthy explanation involving the marrow that is contained inside bones. We were dubious that bone marrow was on the menu. Then the Aussies chimed in to say that marrow is the same as what we call squash. All our waitress could say is, “Aye, yai, yai.”

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