Saturday, July 25, 2009

More translating English to English... ;-)

Lol... the translation service continues...

Miz N. called me twice yesterday morning, trying to figure out what she needed to buy at the grocery store in order to make biscuits and gravy for breakfast today... and try as she might, the clerk at the grocery store just couldn't understand what she was asking for, when she said she was looking for "biscuits in a can".

He was showing her Arnott's biscuits in decorative tins... and he insisted on taking her up and down the biscuit (cookie) aisle a dozen times, trying to find what she was looking for... but she didn't have any luck.

And the only biscuits in the refrigerated section are actually packaged cookie dough, (Aunt Kath's) with M&M's in them. (which she bought anyway. Smart girl.) But if cookies are biscuits, why is the Australian product called "cookie dough"?

Then she called back, asking what the difference between ground beef and beef mince was, since they looked the same to her - and to tell me that there was no pork sausage or bacon anywhere to be found... and what section would they be found in?!

And it just dawned on me, just how used to things and certain terms, that I've become. They're just words... but when it comes right down to it, it can almost seem like you're suddenly being asked to speak a foreign language and it can become confusing as hell. Especially when you're not used to it, or someone throws a spanner (monkey wrench) into the works.

But it got me thinking. I guess I've always been a bit of a stickler with using the words I grew up with. I guess we all do that, to one extent or another, no matter where we come from...
I still say stuff like chesterfield for couch, dinner at lunch time, supper for the evening meal, soda or soda pop for soft drink and "I feel peckish" at about 8pm. And I still sit on my fanny when I'm not working.

But I've noticed that I use words like beef mince instead of ground beef...
brekky instead of breakfast,
play lunch instead of morning snack...
lounge for living room
tap for faucet...
And if anyone says "fanny" outloud to me nowadays? OMG... I blush like an old nun in the men's locker room.

So yeah, I guess words evolve over time, and sometimes I wonder how much of it - here in Australia anyway - was due to the vast influx of Americans into this country back in the 1800's.
Yeah, I know it's happened all over the world, but the "U.S. to Oz" thing is all that I've actually experienced myself.

See, most Australians aren't even aware that the famous Cobb and Co stagecoach company was actually founded by American's... Freeman Cobb, John Murray Peck, John B Lamber and James Swanton – and that it was originally called the American Telegraph Line of Coaches, until someone decided that was too much of a mouthful, so they simplified it to Cobb and Co(Company)...

Fosters Beer... the great "Aussie icon", was actually started in 1887 by 2 Americans - William M. Foster and his brother Ralph R. Foster- They had sailed from New York, USA with the dream of starting a successful brewery on the other side of the world. And they did... with Fosters now being known around the world.

Not that it actually makes any difference in the big scheme of things, but I do find it fascinating to think of all the words and terminology - and products - that exist in Australia today that people consider to be 100% Australian... that aren't actually Australian after all, when you come right down to the base root of it all.
Or at the very least, they weren't originally founded or - in the case of words - used by Australian's.
And I just wonder if anyone even knows (okay, maybe "cares" is the better word) where the words or brands that are considered purely Australian, (or any nationality in the world, for that matter) originally originated from. I just find it fascinating, is all...
But maybe I'm funny that way.

And who in the hell decided that a fanny was now in the front of a body, instead of the back?


Michaela Dunn Leeper said...

Mmmmmm..... tim tams....

I'm sorry, did you say something else?

rubiesrnotpurple said...

What the heck are biscuits in a can? I'm picturing cream in a can - give it a shake and a press and out comes a choc-coated butternut snap (which are not made of pumpkin at all). I'd like to get me some of that.

shh don't tell - but I subconsciously look for the root of words when people are gasbagging.

Robynn's Ravings said...

I have this conversation with my kids about swear words. It's all very philosophical. Who decides which word should send everyone blushing and which one is acceptable? We try to keep our speech wholesome but sometimes it really IS confounding.

And may I ask.....WHY can't you get bacon and sausage in Australia? Are they against pigs? What's the deal? And frankly, I think not being able to get biscuits in a can is doing the world a favor (no shine on your friend). I simply find them to be inedible. Ya GOTTA have homemade biscuits (and what DO they call those things in Australia? The things you put with gravy?)

W.V. Pricable - what category are we putting THIS one in?

Caroline said...

Timmmmm Tamssssssss.

Did you have to make me drool? ;)

I've had that moment before where it struck me how many kiwi words I've picked up. It struck me most when I was back in CO visiting friends.

Becky said...

Jolly good post and I like canned biscuits, sometimes they really come in handy. Funny how we interpret tings differently. Like we are called crackers here in the south but I always thought you ate crackers!

Neas Nuttiness said...

No comment on Crisco - surely there is something that you can share with us?

Linda said...

In answer to the question about my blog, I think it was Farrans Lookout.

Irene said...

Hi Robyn
Katies' friend (Aussie) Irene here we have bacon and sausages here. Maybe I was lucky as I was taught by an American order of nuns here in Australia so I grew up with different names for the same product.

Irene said...

Hey Katie
Cobb and Co was started here in Victoria by James Rutherford I think he started it in Australia. He was an American who came over with the gold rush.
There is a good book by Will Lawson called when Cobb and Co were kings about the stage company in Vic.
I agree the different names and spellings too are confusing, I never can remember if aussie wagon has two gs in it or that is the american spelling.

Bz said...

As a word-lover too, 'tis but just ONE reason I like reading you (the humor, down-to-earthiness, etc. are other reasons).
I tell you though, "fanny" would take some getting used to ...IN THE FRONT!

Homestay Mama said...

Biscuits in a can? No way! I'll have to post my easy-peasy made-from-scratch biscuit recipe one of these days! My international students all love my biscuits especial served with my made-from-scratch chicken noodle soup!

Homestay Mama said...

I meant "especially!" Goodness! I really do know how to spell!


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