So far, all of the books I’ve had published are set in London, and all of my heroes have been British. In my first novel, Knowing the Score, the heroine is American and learns an important, but embarrassing lesson: her fanny is not where she thinks it is. (You can find out what it is here.)
Since many of my readers are American, my lovely editor Deb Nemeth suggested I include a short glossary of British words at the beginning of my next book, Playing It Close (out on April 14 – preorder now! Sorry, had to get that in somehow!).
I’ve decided to put that short glossary up on my website, too – it might come in handy for any of you who are watching Sherlock or Downton Abbey.
As an American who’s married to a Brit, I can assure you that we two nationalities sometimes speak a very different language – and it can lead to big misunderstandings!
When my husband and I first started going out, I made the rookie girlfriend mistake of offering to do his laundry for him (I’ve been doing it ever since). He gave me an armful of colored clothes but left his whites in a pile on the living room floor (total 25-year-old bachelor). On top of the pile of whites, there was a pair of khaki pants, so I pointed to that pile and said, “Do you want me to wash your khaki pants, too?”
He turned red and said, “Um, if you really want to.”
Then his face cleared, and his Master’s degree in American Lit kicked in. He remembered what “khaki pants” means in American English, and he explained his embarrassment. “In the UK,” he said, “pants are underwear, and, uh, kak means shit.”
Yes, after our first real date, I basically told my future husband, “I’d like to wash your shitty underwear.”
So, to help avoid any other misunderstandings, here’s a link to my British glossary, along with an explanation for my American readers.
Are there any words you would add to my glossary? Any British words you’ve heard that you don’t understand? Do you have any embarrassing stories of British/American mistranslations? Go on – we won’t laugh at you! (Okay, we might.)