In my last post, I said that my living area is very cosy. I had originally commented to Judith that they had made the house very homely in the short time that they had been here. She corrected me quickly as, apparently, to an American, homely means ‘seen better days’ or ‘in a state of disrepair’. I could so easily have unknowingly offended someone!
This led me to think of other differences in the English language. I am used to travelling between New Zealand and England with the odd trip across the ditch to Australia and can usually adjust my language to suit the country (although my children still pick me up on words occasionally.) I therefore ‘hoover’ in England but ‘vacuum’ in New Zealand. Ice lollies in England become ice blocks in New Zealand (ice lollies being met with a totally blank look in N.Z.). Flip flops in English are jandals in N.Z. and thongs in Australia, whilst thongs in New Zealand are G string pants (potentially extremely embarrassing if you get that one wrong!).
Even so, I still mix up my words and quite recently, my sister queried me when I referred to a ‘hissy fit’, which I thought was standard English but is apparently New Zealandish, the meaning being ‘having a paddy’, ‘throwing a wobbly’, ‘having a tantrum’ or words to that effect. I suspect that even the title of this post is pure New Zealand, but now I am confused!
It must be so difficult for non native English speaking people (and even some who aren’t!) who think they are speaking the same language when it can, in fact, be totally different. I have yet to find out what other differences there are with American but no doubt there will be some.
On Saturday, I braved driving on the snow covered driveway and ventured into Newport to the wool shop, as I had aspirations to knit a sweater for myself. I was met with incomprehension when I asked for double knitting wool. I should have known better as this does not even translate in New Zealand, it being 8 ply there. For that matter, I may just be outdated and it might not even be referred to as double knit in England now!
Anyway, I spent a happy hour in the wool shop, which had a constant flow of customers, primarily local, most of whom, of course, were known by name, this being a small town. The owner had a very cosy (not homely) set up with armchairs in one corner, where she sat knitting or crocheting between customers, and, indeed, invited anyone who wished to do so, to join her.
Having made my purchase, I spent another happy hour in the very large supermarket and am now well stocked with the essentials (wine) so that if I am snowed in, I will survive more than adequately for some time. And, of course, I now have my new knitting project to keep me occupied as well!