Can You Pass For A Proper Brit?

A Scripted Freelance Writer Writing Sample

George Bernard Shaw supposedly once said that America and England are two nations divided by a common language. And, when it comes to words like "football," "toilet," and even "chips," Americans might get lost in translation. See how well you would get along on the other side of the pond. Take the Quiz Q: You have your "knickers in a twist" a) Your dirty laundry is jumbled up. b) You have a dreaded visible panty line. c) You are flustered and agitated. A: It's slang for being bothered and agitated about something trivial and stems from the word "knickers," a reference to women's underpants. Q: What should you say when someone says they are "going to the surgery?" a) "Oh, dear. I wish you a speedy recovery." b) "Will you be back for the 4 o'clock meeting?" c) "Which hospital will you be in?" A: "Going to the surgery" means you're making a routine office visit to the doctor. Q: What's the common way to write this shopping list: eggplant, endive, zucchini? a) Purple squash, marrow, rutabaga b) Nightshade, melongene, swede c) Aubergine, chicory, courgette A: Aubergine is what the Brits call eggplant. Endive is known as chicory, and zucchini is commonly referred to as courgette. Q: What are suspenders and braces? a) Suspenders are dangling earrings; braces are earring backs. b) Suspenders hold up stockings; braces hold up trousers. c) Suspenders are wires an orthodontist uses to straighten teeth; braces are brackets that hold the wires. A: In the U.K., suspenders are garters, used to hold up stockings. Braces, what Americans call suspenders, are used to hold up trousers. Q: Translate: "Get your skates on. This portered flat to let is in a purpose-built block in a brilliant situation." a) "Be quick. This modern rental apartment is in a doorman building in a great location." b) "See this new foreclosure. A sunny apartment in a building with communal gardens represents a good investment." c) "Visit our open house. This spacious, light-filled condo is in a townhouse with a live-in superintendent." A: "Get your skates on" is a somewhat rude way of saying "hurry up." "To Let" or "For Hire" mean "For Rent." A porter is a doorman; a purpose-built block is a modern apartment building and a situation refers to a location. Q: What is a lollipop lady in a zebra crossing? a) A woman who sells ice cream at the zoo. b) A woman who helps school children cross the road. c) A woman who sells lipstick at the cosmetics counter in a department store. A: She's a school crossing guard, who stands on the road's painted white stripes known as the zebra, or zigzag, crossing. Q: Translate: "Straight on to Boots the Chemist in the high street parade over the level crossing." a) "Walk along this street to the drugstore in the row of stores on main street after you cross the railroad tracks." b) "You'll need to take cold relief tablets if you don't wear boots to watch the parade in the rain on main street." c) "Congratulations to Mr. Boots, the drugstore owner, who is donating to the town's float in the big parade." A: Boots the Chemist is a U.K. drugstore chain. A parade is a row of shops. A high street is a main thoroughfare. A level crossing is a railroad crossing. Q: Translate: "Do you have a bathroom?" a) "Do you have a restroom?" b) "Do you have a toilet?" c) "Do you have facilities?" A: It's fine to say toilet. Alternatively, ask for the loo or the WC. Powder room is also acceptable for women to say. Don't ask for a bathroom, as someone may show you to a room without a toilet. Q: What's an articulated lorry in a dual carriageway tailback? a) A truck stuck under the railroad track overpass. b) An 18-wheeler blocking a lane of highway traffic. c) A semi-trailer in a big traffic jam on a divided highway. A: Articulated lorry (a truck) is what Americans call a semi-trailer, or an 18-wheeler. The dual carriageway is a two-way highway with a central divider, and a tailback refers to a long traffic jam that could extend for miles. Q: What does ironmonger, black treacle, truncheon and torches mean? a) Hardware store, molasses, nightstick and flashlights b) Stanchion, truffle, bollard and lanterns c) Auto repair shop, black ice, smoked salmon and firecrackers A: Ironmonger is a name for a hardware store. The other words on this list may look funny, but they're in common use in the U.K. See My Results! You scored 0-4. Your heart may bleed Brit, but your mouth says otherwise. British mums are fond of saying "Oh, dear" when a school exam mark isn't stellar. You may want to study (Brits would say "revise") a bit more. Pack an extra guide book on British English for your next trip across the pond. You scored 5-8. You're a hop, skip and a jump from calling yourself a Brit. You probably know that in the U.K. an elevator is called a lift and the second floor is called the first floor. Spending a few days eating fish and chips with proper Englishmen will give you that extra schooling you need to blend in with every regular bloke in the pub. You scored 9-10. You're a Londoner, mate! You are happy to spell "flavour" and "colour" with that extra "u" and you'd blend right in on a morning commute on the Tube. Check your mail for that invite from Will and Kate to take high tea with Her Majesty the Queen.

Laurie J
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