When I was a kid, I thought it was really cool that all Americans used gas in their cars. I mean it's cheaper, more environmentally friendly, and goes further than petrol. A whole country that doesn't use petrol! How cool is that.
Then I realised - gas is petrol.
Which led me to wonder - If Americans call petrol gas, then what do they call gas? I asked a couple of Yanks this question - it just seemed to confuse them.
When I was a kid, I was told in no uncertain terms that words like colour and flavour had a U in them - to spell them without one is American, and not proper English. And words that end with ise or isation didn't have a Z in them - again, an Americanism that was not tolerable in any other English speaking country (so we were told). It plays havoc with spellcheckers, which seem to all be American at times.
When I was a kid, I thought that the word 'ass' meant donkey, and wondered why Americans couldn't come up with a better insult - like arse.
When I was a kid, I laughed my head off when I heard Americans talk about 'fanny-bags'. Such a strange mental image. Wouldn't it be more comfortable to wear a 'bum-bag'?
When I was a kid, I read American books - and learned to convert the farenheit to celcius, and the miles to kilometers.
When I was a kid, I sometimes found a new book by a British author I loved - then opened it to find the same text I knew. There was a different title on the cover because that edition had been published in the US.
Over here we get used to all this stuff when we are kids. We learn how to convert 'American" into 'Australian'. We learn a lot about the US. Meagen once wondered on this post if only American kids played cowboys and Indians. It really made me wonder if people in the US realise the extent that their culture is transported around the world - it's not for nothing that we call it cultural imperialism.
But I've realised the extent to which I make assumptions about the US. I assume that, while we have to understand you, you have never had to understand us. I've noticed on my blog, and the comments I make on others, that for some reason I feel the need to clarify things when I know the Americans do it different. If I say fanny I have to emphasise that I mean vagina. If I write arse or colour I cringe in case you think I just can't spell. I feel the need to convert ks to miles for your benefit. I wouldn't just write Howard and assume you knew who he is, even thought you just write Bush (see, even slipped a hint in there!).
I could never tell if you just don't know that things are different elsewhere, or if you just assume we can work it out for ourselves. But I haven't given you the benefit of the doubt, assuming that you do know or that you can work it out for yourselves. This is very patronising on my behalf.
So, from now on, I'll try to minimise my explainations. If I write about the Anzacs and you don't know who they are, you can ask, or just look it up. If you think my spelling sucks - you may well be right, but you can check an English dictionary* (not an American one) if you want to make sure.
But before I go, I really want to know some things.
Do you know that we call gas petrol?
Can you convert miles into ks and farenheit into celcius?
Do you know what fanny means over here (or did you before you read my blog?)
Do you know that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's stone is actually Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone everywhere else?
Maybe we've been underestimating you.
*Bugger the English dictionary. Check the Macquarie dictionary.