Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Are We All Speaking English???

I subscribe to BBC America emails.  The latest arrived this evening informing me that the next 'Doctor Who' adventure will air on November 23.  That's cool.  I plan to see the movie 'Catching Fire' when it opens on November 22.  So, it looks to be a good week-end for me.

Included in the email was a link to a story about 'What not to wear in the U.S.'  The story is really about the differences in meaning of some words referring to clothing.  And language is what brings me to this post.

I watch a lot of BBC programs.  Since I never had time to watch television when I was going to grad school, working and raising my three sons, I am now catching up on old dramas.  The latest is 'Prime Suspect'.

I have gotten used to the fact that some Brits mumble (to me anyway) through their lines and I will never understand them, so I just have to skip it and hope I am not missing out on any important dialog.  Generally, I am okay.

My worst experience was watching 'The Wind that Shakes the Barley'.  I was about five minutes into the movie, not understanding a word and thinking they were speaking some foreign language, when I decided to start over and turn on the English subtitles.  HAH!  They were speaking English.  Not just any English I could understand without reading along.  LOL.

Anyway, back to 'Prime Suspect'.  I am watching one of the episodes and first off they are talking about 'rent boys'.  I am thinking this is some homeless lad renting a room in a house.  Then the police are talking about doing a round-up of them.  I wonder what the big deal is.  Finally, in desperation for understanding, I google 'rent boys'.  OOOOHHHHH.  So, these are young male prostitutes.  Why didn't they just say so?

We are all speaking the same language but somehow with all the slang terms we are really speaking two or more dialects of the same language.  Reminds me of the southern Italians my family members married who could not understand the northern Venetian dialect my mother's family spoke.

Now, to bring 'Doctor Who' and 'Prime Suspect' together we have Peter Capaldi, the next Doctor.  While watching the credits for the story about 'rent boys', I saw Peter's name.  I am watching and wondering how come I do not see him.  He had like second billing under Helen Mirren.  Finally, I grab the Kindle Fire, again, and google the episode.  LOL.  He is playing a transvestite.  No wonder 'she' has a mustache.  And no wonder I didn't recognize him. 

This is an interesting episode.  Along with Capaldi we see a young Johnny Lee Miller and a young James Frain.  And we are all speaking English.  I think.


  1. This is funny, Denise. I've had this experience too, when I had to switch on the subtitled while watching Billy Elliott. If you haven't watched that film, you must. It is a beautiful story.

  2. In My Fair Lady, there is one song called Why Can't The English Teach Their Children How to Speak which includes a language about who uses English saying "Americans haven't used it for years". I have been telling American friends for years that you do NOT speak English, but American which, admittedly, was adapted from English. Rent boys, which I had never heard before, was obvious to me, but then, I am originally English. A lot of it is in how we think, both you and us. When we first emigrated to Canada, a lot of misunderstanding was caused by the way we phrased things which was totally different to Canadian phrasing.

  3. Ha ha! I have the same problem with some American accents and, being a Scot living in England, a lot of English people had trouble with mine - although it has faded over time. I guess you just get used to it.
    I wonder if Peter Capaldi will do David Tennant and ditch his Scottish accent for an English one when he plays The Doctor?


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