At last. The white drops drifting through the air are petals from flowering fruit trees, not snow ; the breeze wafting through the leaves is warm, not cold, and the sun glints off shiny new foliage instead of rain-drenched tree trunks and side walks. Excuse me. In England, we say pavement, confusing to a Yank like me, because in the US we call the hard stuff you put on roads pavement. Oh well, as George Bernard Shaw famously said, England and America are two countries separated by the same language. This is a quote I admit I find slightly irritating, the implication being that one of us (guess which) doesn’t speak properly. Anyway, that’s how I take it. But if numbers count, surely It has to be England, now, because fewer people speak the language with an English accent, these days, than with an American one. At least I think so. But I would, wouldn’t I. So which one is "correct" ? What is correct, anyway, when it comes to language?
I have to admit, though, that I love the way some English people use the language. They use more Anglo-Saxon words, for one thing.
The jargon used by the military, the police, and those who would like to sound like one of those is particularly ridiculous. It’s as if the words "killed", "died", "gun" , "knife", bomb, do not exist. You would never hear an English cop saying, for example, "The member of the family who was attacked by the suspect with a sharp weapon was found to be deceased." The Brit cop would say, "The nephew attacked his uncle with a knife and killed him." Collateral damage is another euphemism hiding the unacceptable reality that innocent people are killed.
At the moment (Brits would say, "at the minute"), I am particularly aware of differences in language used for anything to do with cars and driving. In the UK you have one year to turn in the driver’s license you were issued by your home country you can still drive. If you miss this deadline, however, you not only have to drive with a licenced driver, but you have to put a big red ‘L’ on the front and back of the car. The Scarlet Letter. While not as onerous as wearing a letter ‘A’ on your blouse, it is still humiliating for a person who has been driving for 55 years because, of course, I missed the deadline, having spent most of my life trying to ignore silly regulations.
So right now I’m very aware of the difference in usage between English and American. In fact, what I’m aiming for is my driving license, not my driver’s licence. We drive on single and double carriageways, not two lane roads and divided highways; and on Motorways, not freeways. I mean, it isn’t like learning a new language, although non-English speaking Europeans who speak English like to act superior to Americans and scoff that we don’t speak English. It’s just that you have to learn a different usage, and when the same words mean different things, like pavement, it can be confusing. .
Anyway, I passed my written test. Only missed one question out of 50. The examiner congratulated me on doing so well, but I did study "The Highway Code" before I took the test. I probably wouldn’t have studied for the US test, and have failed it. Now I have to take the practical driving test. I’m taking lessons for that, too. Just in case.