You may think Americans speak the same language as the British, but it’s really miles apart.
They will be the first to tell you. American is NOT English. At a meeting once, a colleague asked me which languages I spoke. I replied 'Just English' to which my boss quipped 'And poorly.'
Early on as a resident, I received a call from a colleague who was going to meet me in the Netherlands. He mentioned he would arrive at 8 the night before and asked if I wanted to meet for tea. I responded positively but I remember thinking, ‘Well, you can go ahead and have tea but I’m going to have myself a real drink.’ The night arrived and I had dinner in the hotel dining room at 7. I was just contemplating dessert when a man appeared next to me and stammered, ‘I thought we were going to have tea.’
‘Oh yes, sit down! Are you Ken? The waiter is around here somewhere. What kind of tea do you want?’ A puzzled look came over his face. He laughed and said, ‘You don’t know that we call dinner tea?’ This information floored me. ‘If you know it’s dinner, why don’t you just call it dinner?’ He did not have an answer.
When I relayed this story to Perry, we started calling dinner ‘tea’ in a silly and teasing manner. ‘What’s for tea?’ hahaha
Have you ever started something as a joke and then it stuck?
Dinner has officially become ‘tea’ at our house.
Now, with all the words in the English language, why, WHY do we insist on using the same words to describe different things?
Tea is a great example. It is used to describe the hot beverage served in the morning for breakfast. It could also be used to describe the afternoon institution that includes scones and clotted cream. In rural parts of the country, it means dinner. English confusing?
A friend invited Perry and I to the comedy club early in our stay. It was entertaining but not what we thought it would be since we were only getting 50% of the jokes! The best story of the night had the audience rolling in the aisles while we just looked at each other. Here it is:
The comedian is a former police officer who talked about how we live in a world of ‘rules and regulation’ and how ridiculous they can be. Once, a head was reported found in the woods. Upon arrival, he rang emergency services, which is protocol, but there was a list of questions the operator HAD to ask. Even though she knew it was only a head, she asked questions like:
Operator: “Is the victim conscious?”
Police Officer: “No.”
Operator: “Is the victim breathing?”
Police Officer: “Ah, No.”
Operator: “Are you keeping the victim warm?”
Police Officer: “Well, I’ve got a balaclava in the car.”
If you are reading this and American, I am sure you are now wondering why that’s funny. I know I did. Once the initial laughter died down, I leaned over to my friend Joanne and said, ‘I don’t get it.’ She laughed- ‘I think you call it a ski mask.' Apparently, the ski mask has it’s own special name in a land where there is almost no skiing to be had.
At a going away gathering, we were lucky to be invited to a friend’s home where we all hopped into the hot tub after dinner. I asked if they used it much in the winter, to which my friend replied, ‘Yes, it’s quite good but sometimes I feel like I need a balaclava.'
This time, we laughed in unison with the group.