One of the things we wondered about when we moved to England was how long it would take our children to acclimate to the way of life here. Naturally, this includes the different accent and the many uniquely British sayings. We’ve been shocked by how quickly our oldest, who is 4 years old, and who attends a British school full-time, has picked up on all of it. In fact, he now speaks with more than just a hint of a British accent.
I’ve been keeping track of the progression as it happens, so at some point a year or two from now, I’ll share how the transformation in the way he speaks went. But for now, I thought it would be fun to list a few of the British things he says regularly.
- The loo. Naturally, at 4, habits relating to what he previously called “the potty” come up in conversation a lot. I think after only about two weeks in school, I would hear him saying “the loo” or “the toilet” instead of bathroom or potty.
- Easy peasy. I had heard this expression from time to time in the U.S., used whenever something is easy to do. But it’s much more common here, and I now catch my son saying it all the time. If I ask him to help with something, he’ll often reply, “Sure, that’ll be easy peasy.” Or “look Mom, this is easy peasy!”
- Ready, steady, go! In the U.S., to start a race you’d probably say, “Ready, set, go.” But here, it’s “Ready, steady, go.” It was further ingrained in my son’s vocabulary because the popular children’s television network here, called CBeebies, has a song that comes on in between shows that includes the lyrics, “Ready, steady, get set, go” over and over.
- This will take ages. This expression always makes me laugh, especially coming from a 4-year-old. To an American like me, it seems so dramatic and old-fashioned. He says it all the time, like when we’re waiting at a red light, talking about the upcoming Christmas holiday, or even waiting 15 more minutes for my husband to get home from work so we can eat dinner as a family.
- Tidy up. One of the funniest conversations I’ve ever had with him happened during his first week of school. I asked him what he liked best about school, and he said, “When it’s time to tidy up.” I laughed and asked why he never liked cleaning up at home, but liked it so much at school. He said, “Well, Mom, you say clean up and at school they say tidy up. I only like to tidy up.” From that point on, we’ve called it tidy up!
- Nearly. Instead of saying “almost” he now says “nearly” instead. As in, “Mom, I’m nearly ready for school.” Or “I’m nearly done looking at this book.”
Some of these differences probably seem quite subtle, but they’re pretty eye-opening to a parent. It’s been really fun to watch the transformation in him since he started school, and language development and differences are a big part of that.