Vive La Difference

Vive La Difference


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Being an Australian who spends a lot of time with Americans I can’t help noticing some of the peculiar expressions they use from time to time. I know they aren’t peculiar to the people who use them, just peculiar to someone who wasn’t raised in America.

Of course it’s just a cultural difference but because I’m also exposed to, and grew up with, Australians and their expressions, I tend to notice when someone says something that deviates from what I’m used to hearing, like most of us do.

Having said that, I’m starting to get used to these ‘Americanisms’ and indeed have incorporated some into my own vernacular. Other people often bring to my attention the fact  that I’m starting to sound less than Australian.

Asi es la vida, I say. Who says we have to speak one way or another? I just love other languages and cultures and I’ll speak however I like and you should too, although I am always mindful of what I say and how others might interpret it.

So, just for fun I thought I’d make a list of some of the things that Americans say that get my attention and remind me that we’re all different and life would be oh so boring if we weren’t.

The Dates Are Back To Front

This is more of an annoyance than anything since some dates makes sense when they’re backwards, such as 5/9 or 3/2. Now is that the fifth of September and the third of February? It is to me, but to an American it’s the ninth of May and the second of March.

I’ve had emails from American businesses wishing me a happy birthday on January 5th when my birthday is May 1st. All because I typed my birthday in their input forms as 1/5.

This is particularly confusing when you’re not sure of the website’s country of origin or don’t realise you’re on a U.S website (I believe some Canadians also do it).

Couple Dozen, Couple Anything Really

When in America leave out as many words and letters as possible seems to be what’s going on here. Instead of saying ‘a couple of dozen’ the of is left out. Isn’t that also the reason the ‘u‘ is missing from ‘colour’ and ‘honour’ etc., to save space and ink when printing? Is this why they leave out an entire word?

It always makes me want to edit and put in the missing word or letters.

Rescue Dog

The first time I heard this expression I had visions of a large, well-trained dog (think St Bernard) sniffing around and barking when he found something worthwhile. You know, helping  to find people after an avalanche  or locating earthquake victims buried under the rubble.

Boy, was I wrong? A rescue dog is one that has itself been rescued, usually from an animal shelter.

We generally don’t differentiate, they’re just called dogs.


I guess every country has a different take on this word. In Australia the word is mum. In parts of England it’s mam.

If the accent doesn’t give them away you can always tell when someone is American – they’ll have a mom.


Another case of leaving out letters considered to be superfluous, except this time you can hear the difference when the word is spoken.

When I was much younger it took me a while to realise that aluminum and aluminium were the same thing. I thought it was some strange substance that only occurred in America.

Lunch Sounds Like Launch

Depending on how strong the person’s accent is some Americans don’t have lunch, they have launch.

It used to give me the giggles listening to American speakers and one in particular had an accent so pronounced it was hard to understand him at all.

Sodder and Cauk

Speaking of accents, I’ve noticed some Americans don’t  enunciate the ‘L’ in words such as  ‘solder’ or ‘caulk’. This may be a throwback to the original pronunciation of ‘sawd’, the old English word for ‘solder’, and perhaps the same situation applies to ‘caulk’.

It does sound a little strange to non-American ears, although we all drop the ‘L’ sound in words such as ‘walk’, pronounced ‘wark’ in America, and ‘half’, pronounced ‘haff’ in the same country.

I have a Canadian friend who, even with coaching from me, just cannot say ‘Hawker’ the way I say it. It always sounds like ‘Harker’ instead of ‘Horker’.

Don’t get me wrong I am by no means ‘American-bashing’ and I must confess I love the sound of an American accent. It sounds so strange and exotic when you hear it in person amongst all the Australians. You get used to hearing it on TV and the Internet but when it’s right in your ear standing next to you it’s very hard to ignore.

And I’ve yet to meet an American who wasn’t as sweet as apple pie and thoroughly charming.



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