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What are some of the phrases or terms used in your culture that you've seen used differently in other cultures?

(215 Posts)
NwaNaija Sat 16-Jan-21 11:08:08

Following this thread www.mumsnet.com/Talk/am_i_being_unreasonable/3988409-Why-is-Mummy-Daddy-considered-posh-Other-cultural-differences?pg=1,
I think this question was buried under the first post so I'm making a new thread for it.

What phrases or terms do you use in one country/culture but means something else in another country/culture?

I'll paste the responses I can remember seeing on that thread, including my posts on it. Sorry I have too much time on my hands and enjoy conversations on cultural differences and similarities.

OP’s posts: |
NwaNaija Sat 16-Jan-21 11:13:59

Here's the original post:

2. Speaking of common, I've also noticed some people here say it in a derogatory/condescending way and it's synonymous with 'tacky', 'in poor taste' or so but when a Nigerian says 'common' (as I just did in my first post), it's used as per the definition (widespread, popular, frequent, usual or the norm) and not as a put down. Although it can be used negatively depending on context and the speaker.

3. What we use similarly to the way people here use common is local. If a Nigerian (in Nigeria) says "local shop", "local boy/girl", "local product", "it's too local", then it's usually a put down and a way to say someone/thing isn't refined, educated, exposed to other pov/culture besides one's own (also see 'village boy/man or girl/woman'), civilised, cheaply-made, bad quality. Someone who lives here would obviously learn to use it differently but can still use it as an insult if they want (especially in the company of other Nigerians).

4. Another one is Proper - Some see the use of it as posh here (although I don't have as many instances of this) but we don't and it's used regularly.

Eg:
Sit down and eat properly or in a proper way (indicating good manners).

I've just had a proper meal (indicating of substance or better quality, more nutritious/filling).

Give them a proper welcome (indicating genuine, good, real).

Would you use it this way or differently?

OP’s posts: |
NwaNaija Sat 16-Jan-21 11:22:11

Some of the posts:

banivani: I use proper the same way as you OP. Not local (it's just local).

Irish people famously use "bold" to mean badly-behaved or possibly rascally, rogueish about an adult.

OP’s posts: |
NwaNaija Sat 16-Jan-21 11:23:23

Meangallery: I love the way the Australians use the word "ordinary" in a derogatory fashion - it just really works.

Meangallery: They refer to things as a bit ordinary - non-desirable, almost like a mop...or something similar.

OP’s posts: |
NwaNaija Sat 16-Jan-21 11:27:59

Pigtailsandall: DH studied at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), and my north American friends almost keel over at the use of word Oriental, which is seen as racist

OP’s posts: |
NwaNaija Sat 16-Jan-21 11:28:30

FindHungrySamurai: I love the revelation that “local” is a term of mild abuse in Nigeria. Very funny. It’s not normally used like that here, but there is a Frank Skinner routine where he claims that in any story in any local newspaper the word “local” can be substituted for “shit” as in “local band”, “local attraction”.

OP’s posts: |
lockedownloretta Sat 16-Jan-21 11:29:40

Where i live people use proper to mean very. So they will say ' that was proper funny'. Or ' I am properly hungry'.

Common means tacky or in poor taste but completely random behaviours cam be deemed common. So tv programmes can be common, clothes, smoking in the street, etc

StrictlyAFemaleFemale Sat 16-Jan-21 11:29:42

Danes sometimes ask me (when theyre trying to be nice and speaking english to me) if Im feeling fresh which Ive always thought meant cheeky, sometimes with sexual undertones. 'Dont get fresh with me'. In Danish it means are you refreshed and ready to start the day/work/meeting or whatever.

NwaNaija Sat 16-Jan-21 11:31:10

The last ones. Sorry for flooding the thread with my posts.

'Ordinary' can also be used (in Nig.) interchangeably with common or local, depending on intention.

Eg: "So you won't share ordinary/common (not a big deal/can be gotten easily) peanuts with me?'

(On its own) 'I'm just wearing ordinary (normal/casual or simple and nothing fancy) clothes'.

(When used negatively) 'You're just an ordinary/common/local gateman' (low class, poor, of little value).

Mammy is short for 'Mammy-water'/'Mami-wata' in Nigeria (Water Spirit or water goddess or sea goddess or water demon).

Yes I didn't realise Oriental was racist too although I've only ever heard it used to describe things in Nigeria, not people. Oriental rug, oriental vase, etc.

OP’s posts: |
GypsyLee Sat 16-Jan-21 11:35:44

Yes, in Romany Language "Chav" means child "Chavvies" Children and the word has been taken to be used in a derogatory way.
I'm campaigning for the word to be considered racist, it's certainly deemed as offensive now, and thanks to Mnet and other companies the word is being removed for it's offence.

lockedownloretta Sat 16-Jan-21 11:37:11

Strictly are you american? I've only ever seen fresh used that way in american books or tv programmes.
Fresh can mean fresh like fresh food or it can mean cold like ' oooh it's a bit fresh' as you step out into the ice!:Brisk is used in the same way!

RandomMess Sat 16-Jan-21 11:41:42

Germans use their word for "must" like in England we use "should" I had to explain to them that say "must" in English was pretty rude and bossy😂

AnnaMagnani Sat 16-Jan-21 11:45:29

In Danish, it's perfectly acceptable to start a conversation just by saying 'You'.

Not 'Hi', or 'Can I ask you' or "do you mind' just walking up to someone and saying 'You'.

Unsurprisingly they can and do sound rude in English. They don't waste time with a lot of the niceties we do - they just assume you are always polite and that's it.

StrictlyAFemaleFemale Sat 16-Jan-21 12:03:17

Im British but spent the best summers of my life working at a summer camp camp in the US. Y'all 😃

DelurkingAJ Sat 16-Jan-21 12:08:18

I would like a plural version of ‘you’ in the UK. I find it difficult when someone says (pre COVID!) ‘would you like to...’ is that just me? Me and DH? Me, DH and DC? And if you ask them and it was just me then I feel like I’m fishing for a wider invitation! Argh!

StrictlyAFemaleFemale Sat 16-Jan-21 12:12:07

@AnnaMagnani I like how they drag up their kids.

AlexaShutUp Sat 16-Jan-21 12:27:28

I would like a plural version of ‘you’ in the UK. I find it difficult when someone says (pre COVID!) ‘would you like to...’ is that just me? Me and DH? Me, DH and DC? And if you ask them and it was just me then I feel like I’m fishing for a wider invitation! Argh!

I always thought it was interesting that the Indonesian language has two words for we - one that includes the person you're speaking to, and one that doesn't. Kind of makes sense to me!

NwaNaija Sat 16-Jan-21 12:29:53

StrictlyAFemaleFemale

Danes sometimes ask me (when theyre trying to be nice and speaking english to me) if Im feeling fresh which Ive always thought meant cheeky, sometimes with sexual undertones. 'Dont get fresh with me'. In Danish it means are you refreshed and ready to start the day/work/meeting or whatever.

We use fresh to mean different things:

Fresh food, as someone said.

New/Clean - 'I feel fresh' (after a shower) or 'The room looks fresh' (after a spring clean).

Well-dressed or smart-looking - 'You look fresh'.

Skin texture/look (regardless of skin colour): 'Her/His skin is so fresh' or 'S/he looks so fresh'. Meaning someone looks like they've been in an airconditioned room/car all day and not under the hot sun.

OP’s posts: |
FindMeInTheSunshine Sat 16-Jan-21 12:44:14

One that has caused me confusion in the past when working with our colleagues in India is "till". If I hear someone say "it is broken till now" I infer that now it is fixed. Followed by a confusing conversation with my asking how it was fixed. In Indian English the thing is still broken.

Oh, and if I make a statement and my colleague says they have a doubt about it, I've learnt not to feel riled because they think I'm wrong (when I know I'm right!), just that to have a doubt means a question.

NwaNaija Sat 16-Jan-21 12:56:37

Didn't know 'Chav' was considered racist or offensive. Rarely use it and only ever did when describing someone other people described as such. I know I won't ever use it now.

OP’s posts: |
peak2021 Sat 16-Jan-21 12:58:48

The word in many languages for 'make' is used a lot more, where in English we say 'do'. Perhaps reflects our attitude towards manufacturing and manual work.

The Dutch use 'mooi' their word for 'nice' a lot more than English people do.

Dilbertian Sat 16-Jan-21 13:05:40

I had a Scottish junior colleague who used to ask me "Will I do xyz?" I was very puzzled - I don't know, I'm not a prophet! Until I eventually understood that she used 'will' for 'shall/should'.

GypsyLee Sat 16-Jan-21 13:12:14

NwaNaija

Didn't know 'Chav' was considered racist or offensive. Rarely use it and only ever did when describing someone other people described as such. I know I won't ever use it now.

Thank you so much, so many people srgue the toss and won't accept it. thanks Not considered racist yet, well apart from Romany, but I'm working on it.
It is considered offensive now, so a start.
Thanks again x

SenorFrog Sat 16-Jan-21 13:17:39

I'm British but my education is part British, part American. The 12 year old me was afforded much hilarity when adults said "fanny", it still makes me laugh every time I think of some of the times it was said. And I can't tell you how much my poor mate Randy suffered.

doadeer Sat 16-Jan-21 13:19:14

In the north east you can describe someone as lush meaning lovely or canny but I said this to a US colleague and it means a drunk 🤣

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