I say tomahto.
You say vacation, I say holiday.
You say gas, I say petrol.
I say “diaper”, and suddenly everyone starts yelling at me on Facebook!
This is so confusing. Yes, I am well aware that I am English, not American. And yes, it’s only been a year since we moved here . I’ve not forgotten my roots, I’ve not suddenly turned into some kind of pseudo-Yank. I’m not trying to be pretentious – “oooh, look at me, I’m integrating“.
But my son is American. My daughter, to all intents and purposes, is going to be an American – she is certainly learning to talk surrounded by them, so it is inevitable that I am going to be “mom”, and she will eventually ask me to drive her to soccer practice and buy her a dress for the prom.
I am also making American friends, joining American toddler groups and taking my children to see American paediatricians. Pediatricians. Whatever.
Much as I would love to continue speaking the way I always have, and believe me “binky” will never roll off the tongue as easily as “dummy”, I also think it’s important not to confuse my children.
My heart broke a little bit when I took Evie to Gymboree, and she kept asking for “more biscuits”, to no avail. Teacher Megan had no idea what Evie was talking about, because all she had to hand was a box of cookies.
I felt bad for her when she was applauded with an enthusiastic “Good job Evie!”, which meant very little to the little girl who has always been rewarded with a jolly good “Well done, darling girl”. And I wondered what on earth she made of the fact that all the other kids were making pictures out of “noodles”, when poor Evie had a bowl of dry pasta in front of her.
There are so many more examples where I have inwardly cringed at my poor toddler’s confusion over what is, essentially, the same language. “Cats” have become “kitties”, children are “kids”, she is asked to put her rubbish in the “trashcan”, and about this time of year, all the arts and crafts she is doing are centred around “fall”.
I really do need to get used to speaking as Evie and Henry’s contemporaries do. I know that it is important for them both to know where they, and their parents, have come from. But I also know that I don’t want them to be teased at school for speaking “funny”. I don’t want kindergarden teachers to assume that Evie has learning difficulties because she fails to understand such simple terms as “sidewalk” or “garbage”.
And then, there is this here blog. My audience is international – yesterday’s figures looked like this:
So, do I write as I always have, and accept that much of my readership will be left wondering what on earth a “chav” might be. Do I explain or translate as I go (which will inevitably have quite an odd effect on the narrative flow), or do I switch to Americanisms, knowing that most people have grown up exposed to American Sit Coms and movies, and know pretty much every slang term out there?
Far be it for me to risk upsetting y’all, so please, throw it at me – what would you do?