Wednesday, February 10, 2010

You're Having Me On

Nappy Valley's current post reminded me of something coming up very soon - Fat Tuesday. It's very big here and kicks off Mardi Gras celebrations. Some of us know it better as Pancake or Shrove Tuesday, but it's one of those things you hear as an expat and you can't quite believe it. I remember hearing it when I'd only been in the States about 9 months. The Ball & Chain was forever feeding me a wheelbarrow load of rubbish in terms of what was "traditional" just to see how gullible I was. Although I knew we were talking about Pancake Tuesday, I had never heard the FAT version before and glanced around the room to see if anyone was trying to hold in an almighty guffaw. Nothing. Everyone had moved on in the conversation.

(I should mention BTW, that "Mardi Gras" is in fact French for "Fat Tuesday". It still sounds funny in English though.)

Another memorable moment like that was when I first heard the word "behoove" (for "behove"). It seems to be used a lot more here (especially in the south) than it was in the England I knew, but when I heard "behoove" I assumed someone was being silly (as when you say "partay" for "party" ) so I laughed, - appropriately I thought. Everyone paused and the "crazy expat" look came over their collectives faces, before carrying on with the conversation. Behoove? How can anyone even take that word seriously? It sounds so funny.

Obviously, there are tons of English words that Americans find funny too, a fine example being Tit-bit. These modest Americans say "Tid-Bit".

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12 comments:

  1. They also call a 'bum bag' a 'fanny pack'. Always amusing!

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  2. I;ve never heard of Fat Tuesday but I love it. I also have Fat Wednesday, Thursdays and Fridays but that is due to my love of cake.

    I still do double takes about pissed meaning cross and pissed meaning drunk. Just sounds bizarre when a professional person at work says 'I am pissed' with confidence.

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  3. I knew Mardi Gras literally translated as Fat Tuesday but didn't realise anyone actually called it that! (A bit like, out here, what we all call Medecins Sans Frontieres in the UK is Doctors Without Borders).....

    So what do ordinary Americans (outside of New Orleans etc) do for Fat Tuesday? From reading on the internet etc it seems that pancakes are not a big thing. Is it more about the carnival aspect?

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  4. Well, some people have Mardi Gras parties but here in Chicago they don't seem to do much else and certainly don't make "pancakes". I'm going skiing on Friday and no doubt there will be purple and green beads hanging from the trees near the chair lifts (along with underwear!)

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  5. Don't get me started on the pronunciation of 'solder' in American English! Since when did the word NOT have an L??!!

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  6. I love the idea of Fat Tuesday but not sure I will be encouraging hte children to hand underwear on teh trees they are bad enough as it is!!!

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  7. Teenager is still recovering from the fact that the Australians mean flip flops when they say 'thongs'.............

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  8. Oh well, any excuse for a nosh up! Re the use of words - my colleague bought a fanny bag for his wee lassie when we were in the States. He loved the idea of her wearing it in Glasgow!

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  9. In my part of the US (Northeast Ohio) the big Mardi Gras food comes courtesy of the large Polish population here. Bakeries sell Polish doughnuts called Pączki (Pounchki, punchki). Everyone seems to look forward to them at this time of year.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C4%85czki

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  10. Wow - they say Chicago has the biggest Polish community outside of Poland but I wasn't aware of the doughnuts - just the delicious strawberry chocolate sponge thingies. (Can't read Polish so don't know what they're called.) And of course, pierogies.

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  11. It's not an American thing, but I'm always amused when people say Welsh Rarebit. I was brought up with it called Welsh Rabbit.

    I don't understand Jane's comment.

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