Have you ever spoken the same language as somebody else but still felt lost in translation? Before I studied abroad in 2014, I thought the only difference between the UK and US would be the accents, but how wrong I was! A few days into my semester, I had my first experience hanging out with my friend’s British flatmates and almost right away, I was berated for calling ‘crisps’, ‘chips’.
From this moment on, I tried to fall into a pattern of calling everything by its British name so that I wouldn’t get yelled at but while some things came easily, others never quite stuck. Here is a list of words and their UK-US translations (Note: Some US translations are strictly New England/Massachusetts-based and may not apply to all 50 states).
- Fries= Chips
- Bubbler=Water fountain
- Jimmies= Sprinkles
- Crosswalk=Zebra crossing
- Shopping cart=Trolley
- Cookie= Biscuit
- Football=American football
- First floor=Ground floor
- Fun fact: I told a class full of Brits that I had just bought a new pair of pants and did not realise my error until somebody was intuitive enough to understand that I meant jeans, not underwear…
BONUS: Words that look similar or the same but manage to get me in trouble every time.
- Mocha (Moe-ka)=Mocha (Mawcka)
Confused? You’re not alone!
I hope you’ve enjoyed Part 1 of my “New England vs. England” series. Comment below with other pairings you may have heard of or any mishaps caused by same-language mistranslation!