That’s not English: Britishisms, Americanisms, and what our English says about us by Erin Moore

25203170I can’t remember where I first heard of this book, but it’s basically a lighter, shorter version of Watching the English and other such books about the differences between Americans and English people. As an Anglophile about to visit England for the first time in over a year, I thought it would be good to brush up.

Each chapter/essay revolves around one word, usually an English English one (since it very much seems to be written for an American English audience) that showcases a tiny bit about the culture surrounding that word. But most of the words are ones that I’d already heard of (either they’re pretty common British English words or I watch too much British TV) and their explanations were pretty straightforward. Most seem to fall along the lines of “because British people, am I right?” Cultural differences are hard to pin down sometimes since the motivation behind school uniforms or tipping in restaurants seems to be “because that’s what we do here” a lot of the time, but I hoped for more.

As the author is an American, married to a Brit with a child who is growing up far more British than American, it was interesting to note the personal parts, where she talks about how difficult it is to break into British society and make friends, something I’ve noted in various places I’ve lived with insular societies and embarrassingly, something that was briefly touched on in “Ladies of London,” a Bravo TV show that I sadly love. Much of the book seems to cover how English people hate when Americans use “their” words when in England, but also despise when Americans use American words as well. So basically, we love them and they hate us. Good times.