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Hi! My name is Jaime Gorman. I am from Colorado and in my first year of the MLit English program here at BU. At first glance it might seem that English is just one language, but there might be more differences than you realise!

What am I eating?

Fish and Chips are as common in the states as they are here in Bournemouth. I came into the UK expecting all french fries to be called chips. I was wrong!  Chips are the larger fries, what we would call steak fries in the US. The smaller ones though, like those from McDonalds, are still called fries.

What we would call chips in the states, here are called crisps. Usually. You will see a few labels and restaurants reference chips in the US sense of the word. For example, tortilla chips. If you see “loaded chips” on the menu – it could be loaded fries or it could be nachos!

When in doubt, just ask.

These differences are not just limited to the potato family.

What we would call a biscuit in the states (both the salty and the sweet kind) are classified as scones here in the UK.  And a biscuit here is what we would call a cracker.

What does that mean?

Cuppa: You will hear this word often, which means to come over for, or to have a cup of tea.

Sesh: I hear this word most of all which literally means a drinking session as either a night out or a party!

Get on: A way to say you get along with someone. I get on with the British people here very well!

Subway: There are signs all over Bournemouth for the subway, though it is not an underground train. They are walkways to allow a safe crossing underneath the busy roundabouts (or as we often call them in the states – traffic circles).

Torch: A flashlight

Plasters: Band-aids.

How is that spelled?

Perhaps less discussed are the spelling differences between UK and US English.  The courses here will expect you to use UK spellings only.  Some examples are:

Colour Color
Favour Favor
Utilise Utilize
Organise Organize
Programme Program
Modelled Modeled
Dialogue Dialog
Theatre Theater

Word will not always change US words to UK spelling, so you must familiarise yourself as much as possible before you arrive. The Learning Support Teams at BU are immensely useful as a resource and I frequently use to check spelling on my essays.

UK English is a colourful language and every day I learn something new! Don’t be afraid to ask. People here are nice and most love to tell you the correct way to write or say something!