When I explain that I’m learning the language of my new home, most people who know I’m living in England exhibit surprise or confusion. The truth is, the language differences are significant and it’s foolish to assume otherwise, so I’m minding the gap and trying to be conscious of the words I choose.
Something as simple as throwing away the garbage for the first time meant we had to leave our flat (apartment) and take the lift (elevator) to the reception (lobby) to ask the porter (building superintendent or manager) for help finding the bin storage (dumpsters) in the car park (garage).
The language differences impact my life daily, but most often when dealing with numbers. Everything you take for granted about numbers – how to read, say and write them – is different. March 15, 2012 is either 15 March or 15/3/12. The time 1:30 isn’t “one thirty,” it’s “half one.” Ninety minutes earlier isn’t noon, its midday. The phone number 07 4423… isn’t “zero-seven- four-four-two-three,” it’s
something that I still haven’t figured out “ohseven doublefour twothree.” And three of the same numbers in a row? That’s treble, not triple.