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Subtle Cultural Differences

(99 Posts)
smugaboo Mon 22-Dec-08 09:20:15

What subtle cultural differences have you noticed between your country of origin and the place you live now? Or between you and your partner who is from a country other than you?

I'm not talking about obvious stuff - but those things that you never counted on, and surprised you - and were hard to explain. I'll give a couple of examples:

My DP (English) says "there again", as in "there again, we could just skip dinner all together and go to the pub." I say "then again" in the same context. When I first heard him say it I thought he had gotten it wrong and I was a bit embarrassed for him. Whoops.

Another one, we say the "hokey pokey", as in 'doing the ...", but my dp swears it is the "hokey cokey" - and I have heard it sung that way since. How in the world did that happen? Chinese whispers?

D'ya know what I mean?

ChirpyGrinch Mon 22-Dec-08 09:37:43

I am living in Wales, where it is the Hokey Pokey, although clearly th$ey are wrong and it is cokey!

I used to live with a friedn from NI, we used to have nightmare conversations. My fave was when I asked if she wanted a drink
'I'm just after a cup of tea'
came the reply
so I made her a cup of tea.
Cue much confusion when it appearedf she had only just finished a cup of tea, and therefore didn't want the other one I had just made!

wotsits Mon 22-Dec-08 09:41:53

I have to remember that 'pants' in this country means knickers, not trousers (thanks to MIL PHSL when I first came out with that one hmm).
Food fights (as shown on TV and in the movies) - I cannot bear to see food fights and other examples of wasting food. I grew up in a country where the poor really do live a hand to mouth existence. Culturally, it was very bad manners to waste food or to be silly about it, like making retching noises, etc.

echt Mon 22-Dec-08 09:45:12

Don't get me started. But you have, so here goes.

Here in Oz some say "in/with regards to" instead of "in/with regard to" or "in respect of".

Not RSVP-ing.

Or saying: "Could you send your replies to X or I" instead of : "Send your replies to X or me".

In shops the assistants say: " I'll see you later", often with a warmth not commensurate with the essentially commercial nature of the social transaction. It took me some while to see it was the same as hairdressers asking you about your holidays, etc., i.e. they couldn't give a tuppenny fuck, but must say it anyway.

NotQuiteCockney Mon 22-Dec-08 09:46:27

Yes, 'hokey cokey' bugs me, along with the 'whoa, the hokey cokey', what's that nonsense all about?

I've only recently noticed that English women rarely wear coloured nailpolish.

Oh, and 'suspenders' is a problem word - where I come from, it means braces.

NotQuiteCockney Mon 22-Dec-08 09:47:45

Is 'couldn't give a tuppeny fuck' from Oz or the UK? Either way, I like it ...

ninedragons Mon 22-Dec-08 09:48:03

I think the word "football" is an umbrella term for all games involving kicking balls (rugby, etc), but to my English DH football is only soccer.

We also had a bit of a snit in the car the other day because he didn't believe me that hatchbacks and estate cars can stop for 15 minutes in bays marked "loading zone". He thought I was winding him up (we do have a long-running game of telling a random lie with a poker face) and kept driving past them.

Othersideofthechannel Mon 22-Dec-08 09:49:22

I've never heard anyone in England say 'there again' rather than 'then again'.

But it is definitely the 'hokey cokey'.
'Hokey pokey' sounds rude [blushing and tittering teenage girl emoticon]

ChirpyGrinch Mon 22-Dec-08 09:56:02

(Otherside, now picture teh first time you heard Hokey Pokey being at a 2yr olds party with your DH, and you both start sniggering uncontrollably)

And what about stamps, here they are, well stamps, in NI they are knickers!

cue flatmate asking where the hell all her stamps were, me saying I had borrowed one and all other NI flatmates rounding on me for being disgusting.
Took ages to figure that one out!

NotQuiteCockney Mon 22-Dec-08 09:59:43

Wait ... in NI they say 'stamps' when they mean pants?!?

ninedragons Mon 22-Dec-08 10:06:13

Ah yes, the pants/undergarments problem. Hands up all those whose British DHs have posed grinning for photos outside General Pants.

littleducks Mon 22-Dec-08 10:12:44

dh says 'skirting border' and 'on the light' angry makes me cringe

ChirpyGrinch Mon 22-Dec-08 10:16:12

NQC, apparently so, need someone to verify that my mates weren't taking the piss though!

eidsvold Mon 22-Dec-08 10:21:27

oh yes - hokey cokey for the english born dh and hokey pokey for the rest of us.

oh yes - for dh it is football, here in Aus it is soccer as football is either rugby league or AUssie rules depending on what state you live in.

we also debate the outside and inside lane - they are the opposite in Aus as in the UK.

ice lollies v ice blocks

sweeties v lollies

ChirpyGrinch Mon 22-Dec-08 10:22:53

Oh, and DH says 'pop' for all fizzy drinks.
I say lemonade or coke or whatever is actually is
Which is weird, as from teh age of 9 we grew up in teh same place!

Othersideofthechannel Mon 22-Dec-08 11:08:29

Little Ducks, I don't get the 'on the light' thing.

TheGabster Mon 22-Dec-08 13:07:55

DH is welsh and says "whereby" talking about locations, I have always said "whereabouts" (am English).

Living in Germany, shop here called "blumen ecke" - cracks me up but literal translation is "flower corner" and is a florist corner shop so its good name really. hmm

Pantofino Mon 22-Dec-08 13:25:06

Shoe shops in France and Belgium called "Athlete's Foot" always make me chuckle. And at work they send out emails in English headed "Dears" when it is to more that one person. Something like "Dears, please send in your expenses today."

Othersideofthechannel Mon 22-Dec-08 13:52:28

How terribly aging grin

macaco Mon 29-Dec-08 09:32:50

How is it that you can buy a mixed vegetable pack here in Spain that includes a parsnip but you cannot for love or money buy a pound of parsnips?
Why are fresh raspberries unobtainable despite almost the entire province of Huelva and Almeria covered in plastic sheeting to grow them? Actually I know the answer to the raspberry one, it's so that you lot in Britian never need be short of a raspberry even out of season. Bitter? Moi?
Athlete's Foot makes me laugh too.
I'm from the Sarf East and it's always been the Hokey Cokey. What's all this Hokey Pokey nonsense?

kitbit Mon 29-Dec-08 09:41:16

macaco I too am peed off about the raspberries! You can get them in Carrefour but at an astronomical price and they are tasteless.

And I'm also narked about the parsnips! We have just got a SuperValu in our town though, and they sell them. Also if you get down to the market early enough some farmers have a few alongside their carrots but they sell out fast. You'd think they'd take the hint...

macaco Mon 29-Dec-08 14:09:06

I can't even get them in carrefour!

Bumbleybee Mon 29-Dec-08 14:24:15

Here in Malaysia a bungalow is a large detached house with land around it, not a house with no upstairs.

The satellite TV installer told me "No need to off it lah" meaning " There isn't any need to switch it off" "Lah" is used very often at the end of a sentence as a kind of softener.

macaco Mon 29-Dec-08 16:59:00

bay windows in spain are "window" so "la casa tiene un window" ...the house has a window....can be seen in sales particulars.

kitbit Mon 29-Dec-08 22:31:04

Try El Corte Ingles, but take out a second mortgage!

I get confused with houses being "second hand" as opposed to new builds in estate agents' windows. Makes it sound so much less inviting.

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