American English can be tricky sometimes. When I first came to the US I realized that my English vocabulary was limited and a little out-of-date. I lacked some basic expressions necessary to adapt to the new situation but instead of panic, I learned to relax and keep my ears open to new words.
Although I had previously studied English in high school, I decided to enroll in an ESL institute for some months, at least until being able to feel comfortable with my speaking. After 9 months of classes, I was somewhat ready to attend University. The important expressions, however, I learned the hard way.
These are some of the American English words that I found extremely useful and surprising:
Shut the f*** up!
It’s true. Bad words are easy to remember and one of the first things people want to learn when studying a foreign language. In this particular case, I didn’t ask for the word, I simply couldn’t avoid to hear it. The situation was kind of funny, though: I was in silence at home while some homeless guy was yelling in the street. Just then, one of my neighbors put his head out of the window to pronounce the magic words: “Hey! Shut THE F*** up!” That was pretty rude… but it made me laugh anyway.
Jewelry (The American English Version)
This wasn’t a new word to me. My high school English teacher taught me a lot of vocabulary like this… except that she did it differently. I knew the British version J-E-W-E-L-L-E-R-Y, so when I first saw a jewelry sign in L.A, I was terrified of how people could misspell their actual business name. Then, after noticing that there were hundreds of ‘jewelries’ like that, I looked at the dictionary to learn that…well, this was the American way.
“What is that chicken thing?” That’s what I though when I first read my friend’s email saying that he wouldn’t be able to work for some weeks because his niece had “the chickenpox” and he had to look after her. I had never before wondered what was the English word for varicela (that’s how we call it in Spanish), so I had a hard time to figure out what a chicken and a little girl could possibly have in common. Now I know it.
FYI, DIY, YOLO, ASAP, MIA, LMAO, AKA, AFAIK…
OMG! Do you have abbreviations for everything? LOL.
Not sure if this is daily American English, but I learned the word on TV when a guy defined himself as a “go-getter”. I found it pretty arrogant but people started to clap at him, so I guess this is something positive even when you proudly apply it to yourself.
There are dozens of different American English expressions that I’ve been accumulating since I came to California, and I assure you this won’t be the only post talking about it. I have much more funny vocabulary to share with you.
What do you think are other common expressions that Americans use (especially Californians)? Leave your comments below!