Can you feel it in the air? Your imminent turkey coma, last minute gift buying at a jam-packed mall, and best of all, over-crowded, bustling airports. Yes, my friends, the holidays are here again! It seems like just yesterday we finished the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers with one final turkey sandwich topped with a dollop of cranberry sauce. Yet, here we are again, two days away from an American holiday based entirely around eating. How very American, indeed! In all seriousness, though, Thanksgiving is one of my most favorite holidays for that very reason. Unlike Christmas, Hannukah, Valentine’s Day, or even birthdays, there is no pressure to find the perfect gift or plan something for someone to top the previous year. No, Thanksgiving sticks to the basics. Family, friends, and food. Being Middle Eastern, gathering over meals is a large part of our culture. In fact, my entire family even gets together each Sunday at my grandparents’ home to have dinner. We’ve been doing this for over 30 years (though hard to imagine, they actually had a life even before I was born) and it is something we look forward to each week. Thanksgiving provides us with yet another day to break bread together and count our blessings, this time with members of our extended family.Read More
Halloween and dressing up is in October in the US but in Europe and South America (Rio) it is in February. So here are some things about how we celebrate it in Greece; a bit of linguistics, folklore and religion.Read More
When I was 15 years old, I saw an article in the local newspaper about an exchange student program where families hosted teenagers from around the world in their homes for a school year. I thought this was an amazing idea and begged my parents to be a host. You see...I am an only child and had always wanted an older brother or sister! My parents thought about it and they decided to bring over a girl from Brazil named Nara. We picked her out from a catalog, which to this day we find really funny. She was 18 years old and we had a ton in common. We both played the flute, took ballet lessons, and loved to travel.Read More
The origin of Veterans Day dates back the end of World War I, which ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year. The date was November 11th, 1918. The signing of an armistice agreement between Germany and the Allies marked the end of the First World War, known as the “great war” or the first “war to end all wars." From then on, November 11th was referred to as Armistice Day and it became a day to commemorate the veterans who served in the war. Unfortunately, war continued beyond World War I and after World War II and the Korean War, President Eisenhower signed a bill drafted by Congress in 1954 to rename the day in honor of all fallen heroes, officially changing its name from “Armistice Day” to “Veterans Day.”Read More
Some of us here at Mango have dressed up to wish everyone a very fun-filled and happy Halloween!Read More
At first, the idea seemed crazy to me. It was March of 2010 and I had just gotten engaged to my boyfriend of 6 years. We were living in Germany, and he had spontaneously proposed during an afternoon hike close to his Bavarian hometown. Following on the heels of our engagement, we made the decision to return to Bavaria the following year to celebrate for our wedding. The only problem? We also planned to move back to the States in the meantime! In fact, the time between our engagement and our departure back to the States was so tight, that we were only left with one day to look for a suitable venue. None of those we saw ended up being our “dream location.”Read More
[Thanks to Matt Owen for this guest post and his perspective!
Matt is a social media manager and part time alpenhorn champion from London.]
Hey there! I’m Matt, and I’m from England. I was trying to write a few words for Mango on the differences between UK and US English. I thought it would be fun.
Unfortunately I can’t do it.
I mean, I can write the words down easily enough, but it’s nearly impossible for me to point out the differences.
Because Microsoft Word won’t let me.
As in all fields of combat, the US tends to rely on technology to dominate the battlefield, and the battle for control of the language has been running since you guys decided you were probably better off without the King sticking his royal nose in your business.
And yeah, I’ve tried changing my settings (which incidentally, read “English” or “UK English” – make of that what you will), but every time I save or reopen a document, Microsoft discards all of this.
I’ve tried to convince it that I like spelling "Favour" like that, but it won’t take the hint. Or do me any favors.
Of course, this isn’t the only way American English has become the version most of the world speaks. When Britain was at the height of its powers, it spread the language by forcing people to use it to buy and sell, and by using it in churches and schools across the globe.
America on the other hand simply visits any given country, and quietly builds a Starbuck’s around anyone speaking another language.
I’ve already mentioned the war of independence, and John Adams himself was (unsurprisingly) a great fan of "Americanisms", happily announcing that he thought the US would do a great job of “Polishing the language”.
What John forgot to mention was that we Brits had been polishing away ourselves for several hundred years already, and people continue to do so on both sides of the Atlantic.
To really understand the differences, you have to delve further back into history.
Despite the name, English is actually something that crawled out of the mud of French, Saxon and pig-Latin [He’s kidding about the pig-latin part, ightray, Attmay? -Rachel].
You can also add a few other factors to those weird roots: A history of being invaded by nearly every country in Europe (quite why the Romans were so keen on trooping all the way from sunny Lazio to get their hands on a small grey island with nothing but a bit of tin and constant rain going for it remains a mystery), and books written by semi-illiterates on printing presses that couldn’t handle all the letters.
Take the word ‘Ye’ for example, it only exists because old printing presses had a symbol that looked like a ‘Y’ instead of a ‘TH’.
Next up, Britain went through an industrial revolution a bit earlier than most countries, with the billowing smog in London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Liverpool filling the local people’s sinuses and having a similar effect on the local accents – they all make you sound as though you’ve got a clothes-peg on your nose [For Americans: case in point; we say clothes pin -Rachel].
Meanwhile, in the US, something more profound was happening. We like to call it “Hollywood”. The movie industry has a huge history of imposing standards on across the world.
Here’s a question for you – what noise do frogs make?
If you answered "Ribbit", it’s because that’s the noise frogs from Southern California make, most other places they go "Bloik".
And English is the same. All over the world, countries got used to the language of Shakespeare through films, where trousers were pants, pavements were sidewalks and words followed the general American rule –pronounce it how you spell it.
This approach is sensible, but wouldn’t really work in England, where no word seems complete without a hidden ‘H’ or a silent ‘U’ in the middle. This is why tourists constantly ask me the way to “Li-ses-ter Square”. It’s actually pronounced “Les-ter”, but spelled “Leicester”.
Meanwhile, my American workmate gets weird looks when she asks for Pleated Pants in stores here. In the office, any businessman who wears ‘Suspenders’ probably shouldn’t mention it if he wants that promotion (If you want to know why, try using Google.co.uk to look the word up –just don’t do it while you’re at work!).
We’ve also got different words for commonplace things: some make more sense, some make less. Want to give me a call? I’ll take it on my mobile. It’s a phone, and it’s mobile. Makes sense yes? ‘Cellphone’ actually means ‘battery powered phone’. When you think about it, that’s just weird.
On the other hand, a Truck sounds much better to me than a Lorry…
The differences don’t stop there either: remember the history bit earlier? England has a pretty long tradition of battling with France at every given opportunity, so that any word sounding vaguely French is considered low class, so the Toilet is the ‘Loo’, although you guys might say ‘restroom’. A few years back an Aunt of mine told me that when she first visited back in the 80s, she honestly thought that a restroom was just a quiet area where you could go and sit down and read a book for a while…
And then there’s slang. In the US, English has had a healthy injection of Dutch, German, Spanish, Yiddish and Eminem to help it along, In England we just go for weird rhyming slang (Apples and pears= stairs, dog and bone = phone), text speak and references to weird English sitcoms from the 70s. In other words, If we fancy an ace night out we get bladdered down the nags, and hopefully there’s no aggro involved innit, y’get me?
I’ve tried to come up with an American equivalent for that last line. Let’s just say a few beers after work doesn’t quite sum it up…
Meanwhile the yoofs have well and truly looted the language for all it’s worth. Where I live, most kids is speakin the Jafaican mon [Matt explained this to me as "fake-Jamaican" -Rachel] (when they aren’t stealing ‘Trainers’ from the local sporting goods store), usually in a weird accent that arrives in Hackney after swinging through Kingston Town and early 90s South Central LA. Don U be letting the feds catch ya janga sistrin innit?
Nope, I don’t know what that means either…
Overall, the language we speak is vaguely similar, but history, immigration and culture have changed the two so that visitors from either side have to make a real effort. Whenever I write for a website, a good bit of my time is spent going through and putting ‘Z’ instead of ‘S’ in words – although in England even the letter would be pronounced differently, so bad news for any fans of Zed Zed Top out there.
On the plus side it means that the way we speak gets more and more interesting as we go along. The regional diction of newscasters doesn’t really match what people say in San Diego, or in Des Moines, and in England it has to be said that even the Queen (god bless you ma’am…) has a pretty weird accent compared to most of her subjects.
The reason English is so dominant on the world stage is because it’s inclusive, always happy to add in a new expression from a different country or a new technology – look for ‘Twiterati’ in Websters and the Oxford English soon. And hey, next time I walk into a diner and order a beefburger and chips, cut me some slack yo?Read More