I’ve spent years rolling my eyes at computer screens as they underline words littered with ‘u’s and suggest I turn every s in to a ‘z’ or ‘zee’. Damn American English. But now I am planning to move to California, I find myself in somewhat of a predicament. Can I be re-programmed? Will I? Should I? Color. Favor. Can IIMG_0706 bring myself to use these words like this? They look so naked without the ‘u.’ What have they got against little old ‘u’ anyway?

However Maia will be starting school in the US next year. As much as I would like to use some kind of compromising ‘hybrid’ grammar, I know I will need to shelve my UK patriotism in order to support her US learning. And I guess, when I start working I am going to have to use the local lingo in emails etc. SO, in the written form, I can see myself conceding. America 1: UK 0.

However, when it comes to speaking, I am determined to stay true to crown and country. The kids will be a different story. There’s no way around this – they’re going to desert me and leave me outnumbered.  Harrison is still in babble mode saying the odd word here and there, but Maia has a strong little East London accent. I’m guessing it won’t take her long to pick up the Californian twang once she starts ‘pre-K.’

She does an American accent every now and then to mock my husband and it has me in stitches.

In time this little comedy routine of hers will turn on me. I’ll be the butt of her impersonations whilst Daddy encourages her with his awful mock British accent – a predictable hybrid of bumbling Hugh Grant and Dick Van Dyke. Just terrible.

The real kicker is Harrison though. I will never ever know him as a little Londoner – he will only ever talk American. Full blown Yank. My husband is so smug about this. So much so that I’m mass ordering UK versions of Peppa Pig and Thomas the Tank Engine. I will be putting them on loop over there. Perhaps even whilst they sleep! If they keep hearing the British accent every day via me and the DVD’s, maybe we can pro-long my little Team London? Or will I end up making them talk like Lloyd Grossman with his crazy transatlantic drawl?

Oh who am I kidding? America will win. It will probably take me down too over time. I lived in Sydney for a year and came back with a pathetic Australian twang. So yeah, my accent might take a hit in the years to come, but there are some words I solemnly vow NEVER to adopt. These would be a step too far: the ultimate Brit betrayal:

  • Jelly – I’m sticking to jam
  • Period – it’s a full stop
  • Ah-dee-das for Adidas – just no
  • Legos – I’m gonna keep dropping that ‘s’
  • Math –I’m ditching the lego rule here just to confuse. I’ll always add the‘s’ to this one. It’s MATHS
  • Ga-raaaaaaj for Garage -pronounced Ga-ridge
  • Galoshes – WTF? It’s wellies! Like I’ll need ‘em in California anyway right?
  • Band aid – plaster
  • Chips – because I want to remember my chip shop chips just as they are. Hot, greasy and served with a wally (that’s pickle for any Americans reading)
  • Recess – it sounds like a balding disease or something. Break time is adequate
  • ‘Zee’ for the letter Z – it will always be ‘zed’ to me. I’ll never get the alphabet song right over there
  • Zeeeeee-bra – let’s keep it short and sweet. Zeb-ra
  • Alu-minum for Aluminium – that’s just lazy talking – add the extra syllable guys: ‘a-lu-min-e-um’
  • Zucchini – I love a good courgette and my new favourite thing is courgetti so I can’t change this now…
  • Fanny – *childish snigger*. Because asking my husband ‘does my fanny look big in this?’ would just be SO wrong!

And finally MOM – just don’t ever call me mom kids. It’s always going to be mum. My name is one element of their inevitable accents I can control at least.

Can you think of any more I need to add to my resist list?

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6 thoughts on “TO ‘ZEE’ OR NOT TO ‘ZEE’

  1. There is the Westfield Centre (the proper spelling) in California that some of the locals call the ‘Westfield Cen-tray.’

    Don’t let your children use ‘fanny’ as a term for their backside – saying fanny is damn funny and you want them to experience the joy of laughing at all the Americans saying it.

    Hothousing your children with Thomas the Tank Engine sounds like a good idea; mind they don’t end up sounding too much like Ringo…
    My advice for your resist list;
    Dawn and Don shouldn’t sound the same.
    It is coriander, not cilantro.
    Their use of ‘awesome’ is a little too liberal for my tastes.


  2. Yes, cilantro. That’s a good one. I remember years ago, once spending hours (ok, maybe 10 mins….) looking for cilantro in supermarkets over here as it was listed on a recipe! SO confusing. Yeah the whole ‘er’ thing for Centre is going to hurt my brain! ;-). Thanks for your comment – made me chuckle.


  3. Even as an American, I found this amusing. 🙂 It’s amazing the way we pronounce things differently and have completely different words for things. You’re going to have an interesting time raising your kids in California! 🙂


    1. Oh how exciting- good luck! I must say I’m a little jealous- I think I’d adjust better in nyc as its a big city like London- lots of concrete and tall buildings ( though on a far grander scale than London!). Where we are heading is very flat and small – so will be an extra cultural shock on top of the language. Thanks so much for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

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