Eliza Doolittles around the world unite!

Posted on Posted in expat life, thoughts

Yesterday I was gchatting with Jon and typed “mum” without thinking (but I have a mom, of course). The other day I described my new class of rambunctious students as “cheeky” (no better descriptive adjective came to mind). I keep talking about the “holiday” Lindsey and I are going on next week (which is actually a vacation, you know). What’s happening to me?

Me (left) and Jon (right). .......Just kidding.
Me (left) and Jon (right). …….Just kidding.

Sometimes my use of British-isms over the preferred American vocabulary is out of pure necessity-one needs to be understood, and I do in fact reside in the UK now. And I work at an English school, with English/British people. Honestly, it often depends on my mood and how much (or how little) teasing and torment I can handle at any given moment were I to just say something the way I want to say it. But using these Britishisms on my own time, with my own husband? Well now it’s getting weird. And I’m not sure how I feel about it.

The unconscious fluid change into becoming someone who sometimes just can’t remember what an American would say about a certain situation, at a certain time (yesterday I called a stroller a push-chair and then I wanted to punch myself in the face, but luckily I was only talking to Jon and I sort of forgot what we call a stroller for a second, but almost immediately corrected this faux pas) is really troubling to me. I’m not sure if it should be, but I get it now-how language truly is always changing and really isn’t as much of a  controllable substance as one might think. Not just something that changes over vast amounts of time, but something that can change over a much shorter span.

Jon says that my voice and how I speak become completely different when I am with my family and friends in the States. And I believe him, because of course that’s true and I would revert to the truest form of myself. But what if I’m heading too far into the rabbit hole, only to lose all my most American bits and pieces? Of course I’ll never become a true English person, whatever that means, but toeing the line where I’m too English for the Americans in my life and too American for the English ones…..what to do, what to do.

I live in a gray (not grey, not yet) area. And sometimes it’s frustrating. I wonder what I’ll sound like 5 years from now?

5 thoughts on “Eliza Doolittles around the world unite!

  1. With a wave a homesickness currently hitting me, I recently had the same thought. Who am I?! Who’s this girl pushing a trolley around the supermarket looking for digestives (closest thing I’ve found to graham crackers) before walking home (because I can’t drive a manual car) to my flat so I can make tea for me and my lad?? The American is starting to slip away but there is still so much I don’t know. Definitely living in a gray area!

    1. Catherine, I know exactly what you mean! It’s so hard having these dual identities knocking around! (And sorry I took so long to respond, just got back yesterday from vacation!).

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