Extension life: English is confusing

When I moved from Ohio to Utah I remember having to change one word of my vocabulary. I received too many comments when I would say “pop” while working as a cashier at Target, so I forced myself to remember to say “soda” instead.

Now I work at an American NGO in eSwatini where my coworkers regularly speak and write in English. The topic of American English versus British English never really came up in my community, but it is a regular discussion at work.

I have to ask who the audience is of what I’m working on. It could be American or liSwati. Words that I didn’t even know were spelled differently in British English are (anaesthetic or hyaena). And don’t get me started on the meanings. Throw in making British English South African or liSwati and I am regularly confused or confusing someone.

A coworker and I came up with this list through a bunch of laughs and failed descriptions.

What do you call a vehicle that has one or sometimes two rows of seats with an uncovered back end? A truck or pickup truck…also known as a lorry or a bakkie.

What do you call a vehicle that carries multiple rows of people, is often driven by mom, and is never considered cool? A van…also known as people carrier, multi-purpose vehicle, or minibus.

What do you call a manufactured home? A mobile home…also known as a park home.

What do you call a smaller vehicle with four doors? A sedan…also known as a saloon car.

What do you call a place where women get their hair done? A salon…also know as a salon but pronounced like saloon.

What do you call a group of people traveling together to one place? A caravan…also known as a convoy.

What do you call the vehicle you might live in and travel the country? A camper/camper van…also known as a caravan.

What do you call the piece of clothing that covers your legs individually? Pants…also known as trousers.

What do you call the piece of clothing worn under your pants or trousers? Underwear…also known as pants.

What do you call the front part of a vehicle where the engine usually is? The hood…also known as a bonnet.

What do you call the back storage compartment of a vehicle? A trunk…also known as a boot.

What do you call the game you play on a table with cue sticks and balls? Pool/billiards…also known as snooker.

What do you call the device that hangs over an intersection or displayed on a pole to control traffic with different colored lights in an intersection? A traffic light…also known as a robot.

How do you consume a pill orally without chewing? Take one pill by mouth…or drink one pill.

What is the name of the floor above the floor closest to ground level? The second floor…also know as the first floor.

What is the name of the device that heats water for your home? The hot water tank…also known as a geyser (pronounced like the American geezer).

What do you call thinly sliced potatoes that are deep fried and sold at room temperature in a bag? Potato chips…also known as crisps.

What do you call potatoes sliced into rectangles that are deep fried and sold hot? French fries…also known as chips.

What do you call the dessert that comes in small round or square shapes that are made from dough and baked in an oven? A cookie…also known as a biscuit.

What do you call the piece of clothing you pull over your head or zip or button up to warm up? A sweater…also known as a jumper.

What do you call the sport that involves kicking a ball with your feet? Soccer…also known as football.


This entry was posted in Africa, eSwatini, Life, Peace Corps, Swaziland and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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