“That’s Not English!”

“That’s Not English” by Erin Moore, “Britishisms, Americanisms, and What our English Says About Us.”

This book caught my eye at the library, and I had to check it out. I’m not nearly as afraid of nonfiction as I used to be, thanks to Mary Roach, author of several nonfiction books that are not only educational, but highly entertaining as well.

Author Erin Moore takes on the English language and finds all the differences between the English they use in England and the one we speak here in the States. And there are lots of differences. Who knew that going potty in London doesn’t involve the bathroom? Over there it’s the same as going crazy.

Some of the Britishisms are downright funny — if you’ve popped your sprogs, you’ve had children. If a child throws a tantrum, he’s throwing wobblies. Your children are more likely to wear uniforms in public school — what they call a state school — and when they have lunch, it might be a sandwich — pronounced “samwidge.”

The author goes into great detail about some topics, spending an entire chapter on such topics as the weather, tea, and the difference between “will” and “shall.” That last one escapes me, but I wasn’t surprised at all about the tea. If we drink tea in America, it’s most likely iced. Tea across the pond is served considerably stronger, and usually with milk.

Another light bulb went on when I read that a wally is considered an ineffectual person. We have a DVD of an animated movie created by a British cartoonist. The clueless character is a genius with gadgets, and has a no-nonsense dog. Their names: Wallace and Gromit. And now I understand the additional joke in their names.

I enjoyed the completeness that Moore employs when telling us about “cheers.” She tells how to use it and how to pronounce it. Most Americans give the R too much emphasis, so “cheers” in Great Britain sounds more like “chis.” I can’t wait to use it on my nephew; he just graduated from Oxford University.