in a fortnight

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less than 2 weeks after arriving in the USA I’m in a project meeting with 10 Americans mostly wearing the pants (UK = shorts) of the khaki cargo variety

programme manager: wendy, can we get a time on that deliverable?

wendy: a fortnight

silence

more silence, I have no idea what’s happening

team leader: did you say 4 days?

wendy: errrr, no! a bit longer, more like 2 weeks or 10 days if my weekend goes for a burton

programme manager: lets touch base after the meeting

This prompted much giggling from the team. I knew they wouldn’t understand ‘go for a burton’, I hadn’t anticipated that they also wouldn’t understand ‘bit’. Most British English speakers understand American English, many American English speakers do not understand  quirks of British English.

Hometown cafe tabletopI picked up and started using American English phrases while mostly maintaining my British accent. The Hispanic American staff in the canteen couldn’t understand my accent unless I used an American pronunciation.  I started imitating American English to get tomatoes with my burger. Thinking about how to pronounce my vowels made my fake American accent delivery rather slow. Amused people in the canteen line (UK = Queue) commented that I sounded like a Texan, because of my  drawl.

Since returning to England I have maintained many Americanisms, they are understood.

in a fortnight
rate wendys scribble

11 bits of lovely banter on “in a fortnight”

  1. Will Watts writes:

    The US pronunciation of the letter ‘t’ in the middle of a word can cause confusion – eg ‘internet’ is generally pronounced something like ‘inner-ned’.

    I have a friend called ‘Butterworth’ who is obliged to give his name out to Americans as ‘Budderworth’; if he sounds the t’s normally, US bafflement is total.

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    wendy writes

    my local US friend commented on my dropping t altogrether, apparantly I say le’ER and Bu’er-werff. I also drop my Aitches, a-cheese. His immitation of my speech sounded like someone from London more than from Brissle

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    Will Watts writes

    Are you then a secret glottal-stopper? I think we should be told.

    Always sounds like such hard work to me, especially with a word such as ta’oo. Much easier to say ‘tattoo’.

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    wendy writes

    I’ll see if I can dig-up an audio-clip of my normal speech so you can judge for yourself. May take a while to find something publishable…

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    wendy writes

    From this .wmv 30 sec audio file of me nervously talking last year it sounds like there’s no secret about my glottal stopping. I have stopped “and so” ing since then thanks to this recording…

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    Will Watts writes

    Thanks for that. I wouldn’t say you stopped the whole glot; just detained it briefly in its rush for freedom. Mind you, you definitely render ‘get-up’ as ‘geddup’ near the start.

    Me? I seem to have left the tape recorder in the car, so you will have to take it on trust. I speak like Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter. ‘Dahling, do you love me tirrbly?’ ‘Oh, tirribly, tirribly!’

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  2. Scarlet writes:

    …and the Americans ruined the Borg threat when they dropped the ‘t’ from ‘futile’ in the phrase ‘Resistance is futile’. It doesn’t sound scary without the hard ‘t’. They have issues with tea as well.
    Apologies to Americans.
    Sx

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    wendy writes

    no wonder they never say Toilet, too many tees…

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  3. Paul G. writes:

    I wasn’t actually going to comment, but seeing as the anti-spam word was “*******”, I couldn’t resist after Wendy’s comment about “Toilet”…

    (note from wendy: comment editted to comply with comment moderation rule number 7 – don’t publish the anti-spam words)

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  4. nick writes:

    Goodness knows what they make of elevenses and brunch.

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    Poochner writes

    In my case, as much as I can get.

    Many American restaurants serve brunch, primarily on Sundays. Elevenses, not so much.

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