Our New Language…English (Or At Least Our New Vocabulary)

courtesy of Wallace and Gromit

Usually when we learn new words, they are inappropriate ones on other languages.  Sometimes we try to be polite travelers and learn words like “hello”, “goodbye”, “yes”, “no”, “please”, “thank you” and “cheers”.

Courtesy of photo pod and Picture Britain

In an effort to understand and fit in with other speakers here, he has worked on his English vocabulary.  Yep, that’s right.  English.  In truth, he’s been working on British English.

with the loo

New words he likes to use:

  • Banger = sausage, used in the phrase bangers and mash (meaning sausage and hash browns)
  • Chaps = they are not the pant covers cowboys wear, but are instead a couple of guys (sounds better when uttered by Michael Caine)
  • Cheerio = Goodbye
  • Fancy = exhibiting a fondness for something, liking someone or something
  • Flat = Apartment
  • Governor = a colloquial expression for boss
  • Loo = Bathroom
  • Quid = a unit of money equal to one pound (+/- $2)
  • Proper = used as an intensifier
  • Posh = fancy, upper crust

My Favorites include:

  • Carry on = literal, but not used as much in the US
  • Keen = Eager
  • Knickers = Underwear
  • Jolly = an adjective meaning very, as in jolly good fun
  • Peckish = Slightly hungry, in the mood for a snack
  • Toilet = Restroom, they do not say restroom because you don’t rest in there.  Likewise, they don’t use bathroom unless there is a bath in the room.

Courtesy of Take Me Out

Unfortunately for our IQ’s, we have watched some British reality TV.  It’s so bad it’s good.  Don’t judge.  It has provided us with some new words:

  • Chips = French Fries
  • Chippie/Chippy = a takeaway restaurant that sells fish and chips (see above)
  • Chat up = Hit on
  • Cooker = Stove
  • Fringe = Bangs (the part of the hairstyle, not the verb)
  • Gutted = disappointed and upset
  • Redundant = Laid off
  • Slap = Slang for makeup

Courtesy of Summit Entertainment

Thanks to the large number of British Gangster movies, we were already familiar with some of them.  Here are a couple of British phrases that needed no translation due to our excessive viewings of movies like: Layer Cake, Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Gangster No.1, Green Street Hooligans, The Bank Job and Eastern Promises.

  • Blokes = Guys
  • Bloody = a mildly vulgar word used to express anger, shock or for emphasis (For obvious reasons, we are only listing quasi-appropriate slang here.  For the other stuff, you will have to come here and ask him)
  • Caravan = RV/motor home
  • Cheers = an expression gratitude or parting, not just toasting
  • Pissed = Drunk
  • Sort = to deal with, as in “don’t worry, it will all get sorted out.”
  • Tart = slang for a less than respectable woman
  • Tarted up = made up to go out but looking slightly less than respectable

Courtesy learn-english-esl-resources-com

Here’s are some other differences between British and American English:

  • Bancock Belly = Montezuma’s Revenge
  • Biscuit = Cookie
  • Boot = Trunk
  • Bin = Breadbox
  • Braces = Suspenders
  • Buggy = Stroller
  • Bunk = to play hooky
  • Callbox/Telephone Box = Telephone Booth
  • Closet = any small room

    Courtesy of aie.edu.vn

  • Diary = Personal calendar, not someplace where you write the juiciest gossip
  • Flyover = Overpass
  • Footpath = Sidewalk
  • Garden = Yard
  • Hamper = a basket for food, used in terms like picnic hamper and Christmas hamper
  • Hire = Rent
  • Hood = the top of a convertible car
  • Jumper = Tank top
  • Lead = Dog’s leash
  • Lift = Elevator
  • Lolly = Popsicle

    Courtesy of aim.edu.vn

  • Mackintosh = Raincoat
  • Mate = Friend
  • Mum = Mom
  • Nappy = Diaper
  • Plaster = Band-Aid
  • Pudding = A heavy dessert or main course, not just a creamy dessert
  • Quite = a term of agreement use to express reluctant agreement or disbelief; more like “not quite”, “not really”, “sort of, but not very”, or “hardly at all”.  Apparently, it must be uttered in an aloof, pretentious, manner so I don’t plan on using it anytime soon.
  • Rubbish = Trash Queuing = Waiting In Line
  • Rubber = Eraser
  • Skip = Dumpster
  • Spots = Pimples
  • Stand = to run for office
  • Straightaway = Immediately
  • Suspenders = since they use the term braces instead, suspenders mean garters.
  • Torch = Flashlight
  • Trolley = Cart
  • Tube = The London Subway
  • Underground = Subway
  • Waistcoat = Vest
  • Wagon = Freight car on a railroad
  • Wash up = to clean after eating food
  • Winker = slang for a turn signal

courtesy of en.islcollective.com

Should you wish to further educate yourself, here is the link to the British Dialect Translator or the Dictionary of English Slang and Colloquialism (UK version).

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Courmayeur

Courmayeur is an adorable town nestled in the mountains.  We have visited Swiss ski towns (Zermatt, Grindelwald), French ski towns (La Clusaz and Contamines) and now an Italian ski town.  Each country’s towns seem to have their own flavor despite being geographically close.

Even non skiers could happily spend a day enjoying Courmayeur‘s charming, car free streets.  Shops, bars and restaurants fill its stone buildings.  Whether you want to buy upscale apparel, outdoor gear, art, antiques, modern design items, wine or any special Italian food, you can find it in Courmayeur.  In the evenings, people stroll the narrow, but chic streets.  People were shopping, window shopping, people watching and on their way to the bars for a drink (a football game was about to start).  The activity gave the town a cheery, festive but relaxed ambiance.

No Italian town would be complete without a church and religious statues.  They look even more beautiful when surrounded by stunning mountains and the shadows they create.

As the evening progressed, people settled into its cozy cafes and restaurants.  The vivacity continues on into the evening as Courmayeur has a lively nightlife.  On our stroll home we saw bars were still packed.  We also saw a man walking his miniscule pooch; they were wearing matching shiny puffy jackets.  Sorry it was too cold to get out my camera (I would have had to take off my gloves).

Courtesy of Courmayeur.com

Courtesy of wheretoskiandsnowboard.com

Geneva (And Europe’s) Cold Weather

It is the middle of winter so I wasn’t expecting warm weather in Geneva, but I wasn’t really expecting this either.  Europe is experiencing extremely cold temperatures.  The weather forecast: more severe cold.  The bitterly cold weather will continue  through the weekend thanks to a dip in the jet stream that has allowed a large area of high pressure to move west from Siberia.

freezing in Geneva

Cold weather gear, check.  Hats, scarves, sweaters, coats, gloves, mittens, long underwear, wool socks, boots, I have been wearing it all.  At once.  While drinking hot tea.  Sitting underneath a blanket.  With the radiators blasting.

The Jet d’Eau is off until further notice for obvious reasons

This weekend,  it was -12 C (10.4 F) when we got on the chair lift to head to the much colder mountaintop.  While the chair lift wasn’t warm, we are lucky because the cold snap hasn’t created major problems for us.  Others have not been so fortunate:

  • Occupy Geneva has been disbanded, not because the government is broke it up, but because someone froze to death.

A Death In The Stronghold Of Occupy Geneva

An Eccentric Distantly Related to Occupy Geneva Dead At The Camp

Courtesy of World Bulletin.net

  • In Hungary, people combed through a disused mine’s refuse pile with their bare hands to get coal.

Courtesy of MSNBC/AP

Courtesy AFP/Getty Images

There have also been some more (and some less) humorous stories about people’s experiences with the cold.

  • Our friend from Poland told us that they are leaving their cars running overnight because temperatures are so cold that they won’t start.
  • Bosnian snowboarders took advantage of a record snowfall and snowboarded down the streets of Sarajevo. People also snowboarded next to the Colosseum.

  • When I opened the paper yesterday, I saw a story about someone who went swimming in Lac Leman (Lake Geneva)!

courtesy of You Tube

  • In Belgium, temperatures of -10 C kept intoxilyzers, machines to test motorists’ alcohol levels, from functioning.

    courtesy of BBC and AFP

  • Cars parked by Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) have frozen in place.  They are stuck because scraping ice off can take the paint with it.  Today, someone told me a story about this happening to an expensive sports car.  The owner elicited professional help to melt the ice so he could get his baby to a garage.

 

Mt. Blanc, The Tallest Mountain In The Alps

Him and Mt. Blanc/Mont Blanc/Monte Bianco

Mt. Blanc, Mont Blanc and Monte Bianco all refer to the same mountain.  It has so many names because of its strategic location.  It in France, viewable from Switzerland and forms part of the border with Italy.  The French and Italian names mean “white mountain.”  Other names for it include La Dame Blance and Il Bianco.

Aosta Valley – From behind the protective tape and snow fence on the slopes

It lies in the Alps between Italy’s Aosta Valley and the Haute-Savoie region of France .  The 11.6 km (7.1 mile) Mt. Blanc Tunnel has connected the two since it was built in 1965.

courtesy of EnlightenedTraveler.co.uk

The trip around the alps is long and so the tunnel was an instant success, becoming one of the major trans-alp transport routes.  It costs about $60 roundtrip for a car to use the tunnel.  That does not include the fine you will pay if you speed over 70 km/hr or do not leave sufficient distance between you and the car in front of you.  They are militant about this safe driving because in 1999 there was a fire in the tunnel that killed 39 people.  We felt a bit more at ease traveling through the tunnel knowing that when the tunnel reopened in 2002, it contained additional safety features.

courtesy of railsystem.net

Mt. Blanc’s height is 4,810 m (15, 782 feet) tall.  It has year-round snow.  Its Bossons glacier comprises the largest ice fall in Europe.  It made the news in 2007, when it grew 6 meters!

It is a center for alpine outdoor activities including: skiing, snowboarding, heliskiing, paragliding, snowshoeing, mountain climbing, trekking, hiking, mountain biking and everyone’s favorite pastime of warming themselves in cute cafes.  All of this activity is not without danger and Mt. Blanc averages 100 fatalities a year and many more severe injuries.  Recently, a Russian couple froze to death while attempting to climb Mt. Blanc, a body was found on a black run (he must have snuck in some night skiing), and an avalanche killed a man.  Looking at a video of a Mt. Blanc avalanche on YouTube, helped me to understand their power and danger.

Courmayeur Piste Map courtesy of winter-sports.com

The Aosta Valley, where we spent the weekend, is a paradise for off piste skiing.  Some of our group went off piste.  Having skied a whopping three times in the last fifteen years, I was happy to stick to the reds.

Please note that these pictures are from the Italian side.  Mt. Blanc’s peak is not visible as it is obscured by a lower part of the mountain when viewed from this angle.