Travelling overseas to English speaking countries one would think communication would be pretty straight forward most of the time, which is true. But I can recall several times being caught out with things I thought were perfectly normal – only to have several people look at me very strangely…. (although once you realise what’s happened it can be quite entertaining)
The best one I heard was my sister-in-law, a single English girl who came to Australia. Shortly after arriving she went to a bar and managed to find a nice man and set up a date to meet him the following week. She went to work the next day and announced to every one in the lunch room, “I love aussie men, I’ve only been here a week and I managed to pull a guy at the bar!” (“Pull a guy” = UK “meet a nice man who wants to see you again”, Aus = well… you work it out, it’s something polite company wouldn’t talk about, but it makes most men very happy) Needless to say, when someone took her aside to explain what she’d said – she was mortified.
My own tales are not quite as hilarious, but they still make me smile. At the fair in the UK I asked for “fairy floss” (UK = Candy Floss, US = Cotton Candy). I think they thought I was on drugs.
Again in the UK, a child I was looking after asked kept asking me for a “lolly” so I gave her some caramel toffees, and I had no idea why she wasn’t satisfied and immediately asked again for a lolly. (In Aus “lolly” = UK “Sweetie”, US “Candy”. In UK “lolly” = Aus “Icy Pole”, US ??)
So when have you been divided from another by a common language?