Friday, July 11, 2014


"Is this Takeaway?" the server behind the counter asks me.  I have to think a minute, and then I remember our travel director's orientation.  In Britain, you have the option to eat in or take out.  If you "takeaway," you don't pay service charges.

"Takeaway,"' I reply.   We want to sit in Leicester Square by the fountain for supper, before we resume our stroll back to the hotel.  In Canada, I would have said, "to go."  While in Britain, I go to the loo or the toilet, but not to the bathroom, and I take my place in the queue, not in line.  I take the lift, not the elevator.   If I have rubbish (never garbage), I place it in the rubbish bin, not the trash can, never mind the garbage can, if I can find one.  Everywhere I turn, there are different idioms. I track the expressions for a deliberate purpose.  It's not so much because I want to be culturally sensitive, although that is important to me.  Even more critical,  I want people to understand me.

If I needed a car, I would hire one, not rent one, and give way rather than yield.  I would fuel it with petrol, not gas, and I would take over, not pass, a vehicle. I would refer to the number plate, not the license plate.   I would park in a car park, and, on this trip, I ride in a coach, not a bus.  Should I need an over-the-counter drug of any sort  I would see a chemist, not a pharmacist.

A new fad is glamping, a glamorous and comfortable type of camping (glamorous + camping) for people who want an outdoor experience while retaining the comforts of home.  These individuals can rent large tents with separate bedrooms and running water in parks or private campgrounds.

If you prefer a particular industry to be established in a location outside your home (like a nuclear power plant or a waste dump, for example), then you demonstrate the traits of nimbyism (not-in-my-back-yard).

Besides learning so much, I am becoming comfortable changing my references to daily actions to conform to the country I am visiting.  Like asking for Takeaway.  But when I slip up at Tim Hortons when I get home, will they be able to figure out what I mean?

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