The beginning of this semester at Cal Lutheran will forever be remembered by students, professors and staff for the lack of electricity due to the heatwave.
Flashback to the first week of school on the night when there was no electricity. It’s 11 o’clock and I’m sitting on my bed, surrounded by the pitch blackness with my roommates. There’s no electricity in the dorm meaning there’s no light, no way to charge my phone, or watch Netflix because the internet is down, and most importantly, no AC in the still 90 degree night. One of my roommates is searching for something and needs light so I offer her a torch that I have. In return she stares blankly at me. If I was a cartoon artist I would draw at this moment a bubble of her imagining something from the middle-ages, like at the end of Beauty and the Beast where they all march to the castle. What I was offering was a flashlight.
At this point, I should probably mention that I’m from the UK and the confusion I shared with my roommates on that painfully hot night is a brief example of my daily life, living with an accent. EVERY DAY I say something that confuses someone. It’s either a small word like dodgy, loo, or wonky (you’re wondering what these mean now aren’t you…) or phrases like, “I feel like a pack horse” or “I’m going to spend a penny” that confuse people the most.
Living in Los Angeles for the last two years has taught me that some words used in the U.K. should not be used in the U.S. as they mean different things in translation. You would think that English is the same language in both the U.K. and the U.S., but I can tell you from experience that they are very, very different languages. The first time I used the word “naughty” raised many eyebrows. Apparently, the accent makes it worse (or better, depending on your viewpoint) and in turn I sound like I’m from a Harry Potter film. I think the first time I said it was to describe the fact I had a food cheat day. What I meant was I had been bad with my diet. It is safe to say I no longer use this word to describe my day or something that has happened. A similar experience happened on my first day of high school. I was warned by my peers not to say rubber but instead say eraser. I spent every math lesson correcting myself before speaking to avoid a burst of giggles around the classroom.
There are some words however that I refuse to replace, for example football (soccer), bin (trash can), lift (elevator), jumper (sweater) and pavement (sidewalk). Instead I have accepted that I will spend a small percentage of my day translating what I mean, and I’m ok with that. Lastly, I have also accepted that for as long as I am living in the U.S. and have friends here, I am forever going to have the argument of soccer versus football.