English is such a fascinating language. It’s common that people do not always say what they mean, or do not mean what they say. Below is a list of 5 things that I’ve learnt:
1) A Cream Tea is not a cup of tea with cream
On our honeymoon in Jersey back in 1999, my husband asked if I fancied some Cream Tea. I said yes as I was thirsty after a long walk.
He later gave me a plate with a fat, boring looking bun (I later learnt it was called a scone) with jam and cream next to it. I sat and waited patiently for my tea. “Where’s my tea?” I asked. Hugh pointed at the fat, boring looking bun and said ‘You said you wanted some Cream Tea.’
Cream Tea means a scone.
2) There’s something called a Tea Towel
A Tea Towel is a piece of cloth you use to dry dishes and cutlery. Why is it called a Tea Towel? I’m wondering if ‘tea’ means a drink or a meal?
I’ve also learnt that the tea towel is a minor British Institution.
3) What is lunch, tea and dinner really?
I was appalled when my son’s school referred to a mid-day meal as ‘School Dinner’. I learnt English abroad, and I’ve always thought a meal eaten at noon is normally called lunch.
To complicate my lunch/dinner confusion, when Ben’s friends invited him round to play and have ‘tea’, they meant an evening meal eaten at around 5pm.
4) You go to the Loo to Spend a Penny
One of the first British English words I picked up was the ‘loo’ — toilet. My female friends sometimes like to add a bit of mystery to the toilet business, they ‘spend a penny’. Not more; not less. Just a penny.
I learnt that coin-operated public toilets were introduced in London more than 150 years ago.
These days, if you go to the Waterloo train station, to use the public toilets, it costs 30p — but my friend still only ‘spends a penny’.
5) What happens if you give someone an inch?
In Chinese, there is a saying that ‘if you give someone an inch, he will take a FOOT.
But in English, if you give someone an inch, he will take a MILE.
Which one do you think is more logical, mathematically?
What is your view of my mini series about a Chinese wife in England so far?
What fascinates you? What else do you want to read? Please leave a comment and let me know.
My Related Posts:
- What’s in a Dragon?
- Why ‘Opium Den’ is an offensive name
- 5 changes of a Chinese wife in England: on Culture
- 5 changes of a Chinese wife in England: on Food
- Farewell 2012 — Raise your glasses
- Christmas vs Chinese New Year
- Love me love my dog?
- Love me love my dog ? Part 2
- Walking in the wood – Part 1
- Walking in the wood – Part 2