English mother fucker, do you speak it?

So I’m getting ready to move to England and this is exciting and overwhelming. And the more I learn about my trip, the more overwhelmed I get. There is just so much I don’t know, and for everything I learn, there are three more things that confuse me. I’ve been very confused with language. I thought, I read Harry Potter, I watch British comedies, I speak English. I know I don’t know the lingo, but I should be able to figure most things out from context.


So here is a short list of some of the terminology I’ve learned whilst looking into moving abroad. Things that I could not understand when I read them the first time, and some perhaps designed just to make Americans feel stupid. I hope someone else will find this list useful.

High Street Law Firm. Someone asked me if I worked for one. I had no idea what this was. Though the term “High Street” does appear in the Harry Potter books, I guess I never put it all together. When I heard “High Street Law Firm,” I thought “High Finance” or “High Fashion.” I thought high as in top. No. High Street means Main Street. So a High Street Law Firm is a small firm or solo. The exact opposite of where my reasoning led me.

Sleeping Rough. I have insomnia. Many nights are rough for me. But I knew this couldn’t be it. It’s homelessness.

Reception. Kindergarten.  No word on what they call the front desk of an office or a party after a wedding.

BodyBalance. BodyFlow. I became kind of addicted to a class that is a combination of yoga, pilates, and tai chi. It’s a Les Mills class, and knowing nothing about sports or healthy things until recently, I had no idea who this was. For those not in the know, it’s like a franchise of exercise classes from New Zealand.

So I went to their website, saw that they had classes in the town where I’m moving, and looked for a BodyFlow class. Nothing. I looked at the list and saw they had everything else and some ones I hadn’t heard of (like BodyBalance) but not the one I wanted.

Damn it.

So I clicked on BodyBalance to see what that was all about. And it’s the same damn thing as BodyFlow. So why the hell did they change the name for Americans? We understand the word “balance.” Did they do it just to confuse Americans moving abroad? I understand how language evolves separately, which is why we have different slang and terminology. But what is the point of having an international system and standards, with the expectations that you can go anywhere in the world for a good workout, but making arbitrary changes so customers won’t be able to find what they are looking for easily?

About emmawolf

I'm a freelance writer living in Baltimore with my husband, son, and two cats. I'm working on editing my first novel. I love reading, traveling, and the cello.
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