Imagine driving along the main road of a small western town, drinking in the dry scenery and the hushed sounds of little traffic. You try to explain an advertisement you saw on Instagram that looked particularly lovely by saying, “I saw this Burberry advert and the lighting was really gorgeous!” and your mother replies, “Morgan, advert is not an American word.”
It has been my curse, having a British vocabulary in my American lifestyle. More than once it has come to bite me in the bum, and unless I marry an Englishman, it’s probably going to mess with my marriage. And it is not like my vocabulary is intentional, as the language we use is a cumulation of words we are told to use and what we hear on a regular basis. For me, my brain seems to defy my years of American schooling and focus on the several summers spent watching Doctor Who and British comedy films.
Usually my ‘problem’ is not noticeable. There are plenty of American slang words that I have adopted, and British slang has become more popular in the US because of television. But there are times, when sat in the company of my peers, that words unintentionally slip out of my mouth and the entire rooms goes, “What did you just say?”
And I just reply, “Um, I don’t know.” Because I don’t know which words I used were considered “Un-American.”
In first grade I took drawing classes with the other children’s fathers. He taught us to draw Patrick from Spongebob. As a child I had a strong love for language and enjoyed creating fake words (which would become songs I would serenade my mum with at Albertsons.) One day in the drawing class, as we sketched out another odd blob on our papers, I turned to the Mexican boy beside me and said one of my new favourite imaginary words.
How was I supposed to know it was a very vulgar cuss word in Spanish?
I believe my British tongue is my grown up form of imaginary words. It is another language that seems to have found its way with me, slipping off my tongue in the most natural way. And as much as I do not like the odd stares I receive when British words slip out, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My vocabulary makes me who I am. All those kids in high school who claimed themselves as Anglophiles because, “Look at me, I used ‘bloody’ in a sentence!” drove me insane, because they thought their forced language made them so cool. I would like to put them in my shoes and see how they enjoy the weird stares, without knowing which word in your sentence they were thinking of.
So yes, if you meet me in real life, I might use words that will have you double-taking. I’m going to say advert, and bugger, and arse/bum, and jumper, and bloody, and snogging, and gobsmacked, and nappy, and cheeky, and do, and fancy, and blimey, and fit, and gutted, and queue, and mate, and gob, and trousers, and rate, and sorted, and uni, and wellies. That’s only the short list.
And the funny thing is, I don’t think I would change my vocabulary even if I could.
Stay classy, Internet,
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