An expat's witty and insightful exploration of English and American cultural differences through the lens of language that will leave listeners gobsmacked.
In That's Not English, the seemingly superficial differences between British and American English open the door to a deeper exploration of a historic and fascinating cultural divide. In each of the 30 chapters, Erin Moore explains a different word we use that says more about us than we think. For example, "Quite" exposes the tension between English reserve and American enthusiasm; in "Moreish" she addresses our snacking habits. In "Partner" she examines marriage equality; in "Pull" the theme is dating and sex; "Cheers" is about drinking; and "Knackered" covers how we raise our kids. The result is a cultural history in miniature and an expatriate's survival guide. American by birth, Moore is a former book editor who specialized in spotting British books - including Eats, Shoots and Leaves - for the US market. She's spent the last seven years living in England with her Anglo-American husband and a small daughter with an English accent. That's Not English is the perfect companion for modern Anglophiles and the 10 million British and American travelers who visit one another's countries each year.
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Shallow and Stereotyped
I don't think this author could write a book that I would find worth reading. She is judgmental and shallow and assumes that other people are as shallow and even mean. She posits much more dislike between the British and Americans than I have ever had any experience of; perhaps it's who she chooses to be around. She speaks vaguely of British people who get so offended if an American should use 'Cheers' or some such Britishism and that American puts too much emphasis on the 'r'. Come on, what human being worth anything would spend their time getting bent out of shape by something so trivial.
There is always potential for friction between people from different cultures, but she starts by focusing on that and being critical of anyone who might pick up words from a different culture. (And there are many different cultures even within one country; I've heard non-Texans say y'all!) I ended up thinking that she includes the critique of adopting another country's idioms perhaps because she was embarrassed by a rude Brit, or just because she has so little to say in this book that she put in everything she could think of.
She talks a bit about the class system in the UK and how it is more rigid than that of the US, but is clueless about how difficult it actually is to move from one social stratum to another in the US. There really is a well-established (small) upper class in the US that is not as dependent on money as it is on heritage. This is just one example of the ignorance this author shows about virtually everything she writes about.
She has very little real material, so she puts in all kinds of silly things; she tells you that there is a store in London devoted to umbrellas or 'brollies" and then goes on to tell you that umbrellas work well if the rain is coming straight down, but not so well if there's a wind blowing it sideways. And there's even hail sometimes! Part of the book is written as if for someone who is moving to the country and might need the kind of information that would help with that, but I think it's only done as filler. There are simply not enough "Britishisms" to educate or entertain and certainly anyone buying this book is probably not looking for the tiny amount of information it provides for immigrants.
So if you need to know that a baby carriage is called a pram and a stroller is called a push-chair and a very few other things like that, you can buy this book, but I can't believe there are not more useful sources for British/American English translations.
The author is trying to funny and cute. It certainly did not get there for me. I am annoyed that I spent any time or money on this.
No, I generally love books about language. Language, and especially the idioms in that language gives such an insight into how the people who speak it think and feel.
She spoke in a very smarmy voice, more so when she was using her British accent, but even in her American version, it was pretty condescending.
This book is not well-thought-out. There is potential for a clever and funny book about the differences between Brits and Americans based on how each culture uses the language differently, but this book was a big fail.
- John R