Something French and fried ... my experience of American English
When I was ten years old I went to the USA to visit some family friends. We travelled around California - Los Angeles, San Francisco - and Las Vegas. I noticed something funny about the way everyone spoke English. I remember thinking, 'This is the way they speak in films!' The only times I had really heard an American accent before were when I watched films such as Mean Girls and Freaky Friday. Most of the films I watched when I was a child were American.
One moment I remember very clearly was at the beginning of the holiday, when my friend asked me if I wanted to order 'French fries'. I couldn't imagine what French fries were. What was fried and French?! Snails? Cheese? She was amazed that I had never tried them and she ordered a portion for us to share. When the waiter brought us some chips, I asked her where the French fries were. She pointed to the plate of chips! Later that week she said she was going to buy some 'chips' from the supermarket. She came out with a packet of crisps! I was very confused.
During that holiday we were also offered 'biscuits and gravy' with our lunch. This was a very strange idea to me, because in England biscuits are sweet. Gravy is a salty, meat-based sauce. I later realised that 'biscuits' in America are savoury snacks. What we call 'biscuits', they call 'cookies'.
I was also embarrassed when a stranger told me she liked my 'pants'. I remember thinking, 'How can she see my underwear!?' My mum then told me that they call 'pants' what we call 'trousers', the outer clothing that you wear on your legs!
I was disgusted when I saw an 'eggplant' pizza on the menu in a restaurant. Eggs do not grow on plants, I thought. What on earth could an 'egg plant' be? Something eggy and leafy? My dad ordered this pizza and it was covered in aubergines. I asked him where the 'egg plant' was. He laughed and pointed to the aubergines. 'They call this “eggplant” in America!' he told me.
Although the same 'language' may be spoken in different countries, there are likely to be many differences, not just in vocabulary but also in spelling, grammar and pronunciation! I think part of the excitement of learning a language is learning about the differences that exist in how it is spoken in different places.