cultural differences...

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Marguerite, Aug 1, 2009.

  1. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I've commented on this before. We think of the world as getting smaller, of cultural differences evapotating, of borders blurring. But there are still interesting cultural differences that tap you on te dhoulder unexpectedly.

    Dr Phil is touring Australia with his family. So the Aussie media have been giving him plenty of coverage lately (each network claiming "exclusive" interview access - yeah, right!)

    This morning it was Weekend Sunrise's turn. And it was a good interview, from the point of view of both the network and Dr Phil. The network asked a couple of stupid questions such as, "You recently came out in support of Britney Spears and offered to give her help. What other high profile celebrities do you see as needing your help, and who have you helped in the past?"
    Hey guys, confidential - but Dr Phil fielded it gently and calmly, didn't even mention the word 'confidential' as he discreetly failed to answer.

    However, Dr Phil began and ended the interview with the phrase, "Thanks for having me on."
    It made me sit up - does he not KNOW what that means here? Then I stopped to think - I've never heard anyone in the US use that phrase. Instead, I hear you say things like, "You're PUTTING me on," or "You're trying to fool me."

    But here in Australia - "You've having me on," means "I suddenly don't believe you, I think you're trying to fool me."

    If you say it about someone else such as, "It's OK, his wife's plane isn't really shot down over North Korea, we're just having him on," you can see that it can have some nastier overtones to the level of teasing.

    Dr Phil's trip is certianly gonig to be VERY interesting to those around him. He tosses out those Texas choice phrases trying to sound so very down-to-earth "I'm an ordinary guy like anyoone else" but here in Australai it can often mean something very different.

    Plus we have our own phrases.

    If there is the slightest falseness or pomposity about any of them, it will be found and exposed to the light of day, like turning over a rock in the bush to show the millipedes and beasties underneath.

    Aussie slang can also be very colourful, sometimes offensive (even when it's not intended to be) and is also very different in a lot of cases.

    I love to show people around our country. We have friends who have stayed with us who remain long-temr friends. Others - we never hear form again. One of the latter was visiting with one of the former and we were having breakfast outside under our spreading gum tree. The kids were talking to these friends (both adult church pastors) about their favourite TV shows. A comedy show really big in Australia at the time was a favourite of our kids, but one pastor was horrified when easy child mentioned she loved to watch Full Frontal. We tried to explain that here, it simply refers to the level of "in your face" political satire, but he still could not countenance our kids watching a show with that title, it was too sexually suggestive.
    Our other friend had stayed with us before - he smiled quietly and said nothing, just let us fight our own way out of it (which made him an honorary Aussie in our eyes).

    A few days later I took the fellas tourist shopping in Circular Quay, down under the Bridge. The uptight pastor was showing me a lovely kangaroo skin change purse he bought, labelled "Kangaroo pouch". There are always loads of these, husband often uses one. They're about as big as the palm of your hand, seamless and with a drawstring around the neck. The other pastor had also bought some but he knew WHAT SORT OF POUCH it really was. After his diatribe the other day, we didn't have the courage to tell our uptihrt friend that the totally seamless change purse he had just bought, was not taken from a female kangaroo, but a male. A particularly delicate part of the male.

    We just smiled politely as he stowed away his spare change in his new purchase.

  2. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    I think he meant "Thank you for having me on the show" or "Thank you for having me here". :rofl:
  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Oh, he did. The context was clear. But for us, thw words have a different meaning. I keptmentally waiting for the "...on your show" but its absence gave the interview a different initial meaning, especiallysince the presenter of the show has a verywicked sense of humour. Which tells me - this interview MUST have been pre-recorded, or he would have said something. It was the female sidekick who did the actual interview.

    Down Under we 'fight' Americanisms all the time, I walked out to the kitchen after watching that interview to hear difficult child 3 (who was playing a computer game) say something about, "I've got trouble with my hood".
    He was playing one of those car chase games so I said, "You mean trouble with the bonnet of your car? Or do you mean 'neighbourhood'? Because in Australia, we don't refer to 'the hood'. It's neighbourhood, or nothing."

    But it reminded me - here we are exposed to games, movies and TV shows coming out of the US and so we tend to be increasingly 'bilingual'. We can understand the slang (even if we hate a lot of it) and even can understand the origins of it. difficult child 3 has picked up husband's & my interest in etymology. But we LIVE in Australia and therefore tend to use more Australian idiom.

    Sis-in-law went to the US as an exchange student in 1978. She was a fairly innocent, nice girl, certainly not a tart in any way at all. She wouldn't use bad language, she would occasionally have a drink at home under parental supervision (which is how it was done here back then). She wasn't the legal drinking age, quite, when she went to the US (it's 18 here, she was 17 at the time).
    But when she got there she found some surprising cultural differences. Words she would never use (the classic Anglo-Saxon four letter words) were thrown around as commonplace and because in Australai back then especially, such words were considered really serious swear words, she was horrified. But words we use often in Australia (for which I will now substitute 'darn' and 'bleeding') totally shocked her host family when she used them. The second of those words is classicaly Australian in how it is used; it is commonplace and not these days considered offensive. We also commonly use words to refer to purgatory in four letters. For us it's not considered swearing and I never understood jokes that found those words offensive. I remember a BC comic strip with one of the characters walking around holding up a sign, "WAR IS HECK". Another character walks up and queries, "Heck?"
    The first character says, "Too right, buddy. This is a FAMILY comic strip!"

    I never got that.

    And yet - we were raised on the 10 Commandments especially the one that says, "Do not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." And we lived by it. So did sis-in-law. She was horrified to hear how much her US friends used these words, and yet they were critical of her for some of the words she used.

    Cultural differences.

    We had to re-train her when she came home.

    But she never had to be re-trained on bow to drink Aussie beer! Back then especially, it was a lot stronger than the US stuff and she was drinking all the Iowa blokes under the table from the moment she arrived. This sweet, innocent, clean-talking young lady, who could apparently drink like a fish - quite a phenomenon!

    Personally, I've never drunk beer. Not even a sip. I can't stand the smell of the stuff. So you don't have to drink beer in Australia, despite what some people might tell you. It is not compulsory.

    I do find language fascinating.

    On this site I try to think carefully before I post because I know my words could easily offend, or also easily confuse and baffle.

    Our pastor friend visited us last year and he delights in the Aussie slang. There were a couple of songs we taught him and every time he visits, he wants us to sing them for him. His wife was with him this time, so we were teaching her as well. There we were, a carload of us barrelling down the highway, loudly singing songs like "Waltzing Matilda" and "G'day G'day". And coaching them on pronunciation!

    A lot of fun!

  4. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    Hey, Marge! The Académie Française fights americanisms ferociously. They are always good for a laugh. This is from Wikipedia:
    The Académie is France's official authority on the usages, vocabulary, and grammar of the French language, although its recommendations carry no legal power — sometimes, even governmental authorities disregard the Académie's rulings. The Académie publishes a dictionary of the French language, known as the Dictionnaire de l'Académie française, which is regarded as official in France. A special Commission composed of several (but not all) of the members of the Académie undertakes the compilation of the work. The Académie has completed eight editions of the dictionary, which have been published in 1694, 1718, 1740, 1762, 1798, 1835, 1878, and 1935. It continues work on the ninth edition, of which the first volume (A to Enzyme) appeared in 1992, and the second volume (Éocène to Mappemonde) in 2000. In 1778, the Académie attempted to compile a "historical dictionary" of the French language; this idea, however, was later abandoned, the work never progressing past the letter A.
    As [ame=""]French culture[/ame] has come under increasing pressure with the widespread availability of [ame=""]English[/ame] media, the Académie has tried to prevent the [ame=""]Anglicization[/ame] of the French language. For example, the Académie has recommended, with mixed success, that some [ame=""]loanwords[/ame] from English (such as walkman, software and email) be avoided, in favour of words derived from French (baladeur, logiciel, and courriel respectively). Moreover, the Académie has worked to modernize French [ame=""]orthography[/ame]. The body, however, has sometimes been criticized for behaving in an excessively conservative fashion. A recent controversy involved the officialization of feminine equivalents for the names of several professions. For instance, in 1997, [ame=""]Lionel Jospin[/ame]'s government began using the feminine noun "la ministre" to refer to a female minister, following the official practice of Canada, Belgium and Switzerland and a common, though until then unofficial, practice in France. The Académie, however, insisted on the traditional use of the masculine noun, "le ministre," for a minister of either gender. Use of either form remains controversial.
  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Pretty interesting, Marg! I hope others there realize that Dr. Phil's phrases don't have the same meaning to him that they do to Aussies!

    Oh- I got a real kick out of your story about the change purse! LOL!