Sunday, January 22, 2012

10 Common Phrases or Words Your British Au Pair Might Use

When hiring a British au pair, you may assume that there will be no language barrier since they speak English and your family speaks English. However, our terms are not always the same. A word in American English can mean something quite different than the same word in British English. We each have our own slang terms thrown in, to further confuse us. Below are just a few of the terms you may hear from a British au pair and what they mean.

  1. “We spent some time out in the garden today.” But we don’t have a garden, you say. What she means is that they spent some time out in the yard today. The open space our the home is generally referred to as the garden by the British.
  2. “They missed their mum.” This is one that most people are familiar with; it is the British version of mom or mother. It is very close, just the replacement of one vowel with another.
  3. “We took a little bumble today.” No, that doesn’t mean a ‘tumble’. It actually means that they went for a stroll, a leisurely walk. They just ‘bumbled’ along.
  4. “Her fringe was falling in her eyes, so we put barrettes in to hold it back.” What fringe? The ‘fringe’ of her hair. It is the shorter hair over the forehead, what we would refer to as her bangs.
  5. “I was a real gump, today.” The movie “Forest Gump” could give you a clue on this one. We would likely replace the word gump with the word, idiot.
  6. “My sister’s on holiday this week.” What holiday is that, we might ask. The British use the term ‘holiday’ in the same manner that we use the term vacation. It doesn’t mean that they are celebrating a holiday; they are simply enjoying some time away from work.
  7. “It appears, we could use some more kitchen roll.” In other words, we’re out of paper towels. It makes perfect sense, once you realize what they’re referring to, but it might take you off guard the first time or two.
  8. “He spent a lot of time in the loo, today.” This term has been heard fairly often on the television, so most people realize that the loo is the bathroom. The source of this term has been debated over the years. There are those that say it comes from the fact that the shared bathroom in hotels was usually in Room 100, which, when converting the numbers to letters, becomes loo. The other suggestion is that it actually has a French origin from the term “Gardez l’eau”, which was often shouted when someone was dumping their potty waste from an upstairs window.
  9. “I’ve just changed the baby’s nappy.” Nappy is the British term for a baby’s diaper. It may have been that the name came from the need to use an absorbent material, something with a bit of ‘nap’ for diapers or it may have been a shorter form of knapsack, since the baby’s bottom is bundled in it.
  10. “It’s a good thing you have a people carrier.Most families do have one of these, these days. It’s the British term for a mini van or other similar vehicles.
Of course, your au pair is more likely to ‘stop for tea’ than to take a coffee break, and she may want to have a few ‘biscuits’ with her tea instead of cookies. It will just take a little getting used to, and you’ll learn some new things in the process.

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