The Brits and I seem to be having some trouble understanding each other. Up until a few weeks ago, I honestly thought the South African accent was one of the easiest to understand. Apparently not. Neither is the British accent.
I started realising this while going about my daily working activities. Most of our piercings cost 30 quid; but whenever I tell this to the Brits, nine times out of ten, they hear 50. It’s not easy correcting them when they’re already in a state of shock – £50 for a piercing?! “No, no,” I say, “It’s thirty, three-oh, thirty.” They look back at me, their faces blank, they’re still hearing thirty. Now I have said the words ‘thirty’ and ‘fifty’ over and over to myself, but I’m not hearing the similarities – even if I pronounce them with a British twang.
One of my recent misunderstandings definitely deserves ‘priceless’ status. I walked into a coffee shop and asked how much their filter coffee costs. The dude behind the counter looked at me as if I’d just crawled out of a piece of particularly smelly cheese and said, “Photo copies?!” Yes – that’s what I said. I walked into a coffee shop and asked for photo copies. Right.
Besides struggling to get used to the accent here, I’m still trying to adapt to the different names they have for some things. For instance, it’s not a pram, but a “buggy”; it’s not an ATM, but a “hole in the wall” (?!); it’s not lip-ice, but “lip balm; and it’s not a braai, but a barbeque.
I definitely am not used to being called “love” and “mate”; while I’m still not sure how or if I’m supposed to respond to the standard greeting of “All right - (insert above-mentioned ‘love’ or ‘mate’ here)?” Rhetorical question, perhaps?
If somebody gets you “nicked”, they’re reporting you to the police; if somebody tells you, “See you next Tuesday,” they’re not being polite; and a Yorkie is not a small dog.
I guess it just takes a little time to get used, ‘innit?