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
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.
I 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.