I have been learning English since I was eight, and I considered myself quite fluent in it. Well, at least that’s what all the tests said. I grew up watching English-language films and TV series. But, it was only after coming here that I realised that the English I was taught in school and the ‘real-life’ English are two very different things. When I arrived to England for the first time, it took me half an hour to understand what the immigration officer was saying, he must have thought I was an idiot as I kept making him repeat everything he said at least twice. And don’t even get me started on my first coffee buying experience.
I mean, I was always taught that the correct way to greet people was “hello” or “good morning” or whatever. But “You alright”? What is that? Is that a question? Is there an answer? Also, “Cheers”. I always thought it was only used when drinking with someone. But apparently it means much more than that. It can mean whatever you want it to mean – hello, thank you, bye, you’re welcome… you name it.
“Please” and “Thank you” are also highly overused. Even beggars on the street will first say “excuse me“, then they’ll ask you for some change, and even if you don’t give them any, they’ll still say “thank you, have a nice day”. Fascinating.
There seems to be a lot of love in the air in Sheffield… literally. You can hear the word love on every corner. “You alright, love?” “That’s three pounds, love.” “Would you like a bag, love?” It’s fine when women call me love, but when men start using it as well, that’s a bit fishy for me.
My biggest shock came when I realised what trains did. Because apparently trains don’t stop at a train station, they call… you know, like a telephone. Where did that come from?
And finally – I would like your say on this – what do you call the afternoon and the evening meals? Because I always thought it was lunch and dinner. But I recently got a form from my doctor where I had to fill in my dietary habits and on it the afternoon meal was labelled as dinner and the evening meal as supper.
What is this madness?