|Asking the way: English to American translator (The Chaser)|
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"England and America are two countries separated by a common language."
George Bernard Shaw
Irish dramatist (1856 - 1950)
This is an australian TV parody about the difference between American and British English.
"The Chaser" is an Australian satirical comedy group. They are known for their television programmes on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation channel. The group take their name from their production of satirical newspaper, a publication known to challenge conventions of taste. The group's motto is "Striving for Mediocrity in a World of Excellence".
- Now what I have to say is that I always make a bit of an effort to learn the local language, eh. You'll buy a phrasebook, you'll speak some Spanish, French, something like that...
- Fair enough.
- But most American tourists never bother with that kind of thing.
- No, the Americans are quite hopeless. They are quite rude. You always see them in Europe, you know, asking people, "Do you speak English?" You know, usually quite loudly too, don’t they?
- Even.. even when they actually do have people speaking English to them, Americans don't even understand their accents.
- They don't.
- They even put subtitles over Susan Boyle when she went on Oprah. And Boyle comes from the U.K. The birthplace of the English language.
- Honestly, I mean, short of having a translator I do not know how American tourists can communicate with locals at all, even when they visit England.
- Excuse me ladies, do you speak English at all?
- Yes, yes. We're English, so yeah.
- I can't understand a word you are saying. Yeah...I..I...I'm from America we only speak English. Do you speak English?
- Yes, we speak in English.
- I..I need directions but I only speak English
- We speak English!
- English, yeah. Can you speak English, yeah?
- We're English so we can...
- English, can you speak English?
- We...we are English.
- I..I just don't understand.
- Okay well, I can understand you.
- I'm trying to go...to..to
- It's okay you don't have to yell I understand.
- I need to go to Glowcaster street. I...I...
- I understand you.
- I..I need to go to Glow...
- To Glow...
- Gloucester Road
- Do you know the way to GLowcaster...
- We speak English. I'm English.
- Talk slowly, Carrie. He doesn't speak English.
- We are, we are like here...
- Do you want me to translate for you, or are you...looking for Glowcaster Road?
Gloucester Road. He's actually looking for Gloucester Road.
- Well it's...we are..we are near Victoria.
- She's saying that we are near Victoria, okay.
- Okay. So how do I get to Victoria?
- So how does he get to Victoria?
- I'm telling him to walk out the park...
- Walk out the park...
- Go onto the main road...
- Go onto the main road.
- Then walk down until you see Victoria.
- Walk down until you see Victoria.
- Okay so how far is it?
- How far it that, he is asking you?
- 3 stops.
- She's saying it's like 3 subway stations.
- Okay. 3 stops.
-Yeah, that's right. That’s right.
- Okay. Thank her very much.
- Ah...he says..uh..thank you, thank you very much for your help, so, so thanks.
- That's fine.
- Thank you. Thank you so much ma'am.
- That’s fine, I speak English.
- They are hard to understand. These English people I'm saying.. yeah..
- I'm sorry...
- And they’re a real pain in the ass...
- We're just saying how helpful you've been, thank you.
A BIT OF AN...= (coll.) A little.
- She’s got a bit of a problem learning languages.
PHRASEBOOK= A little book with translations of the most common phrases you need to know in another language when travelling there.
FAIR ENOUGH= OK.
HOPELESS= If something is hopeless, it is not worth trying, or no matter how much you/they try, there are no results.
YOU KNOW= This phrase doesn’t mean anything, it’s just a gap-filler, a device to help you fill in the gap in the conversation while you are thinking of what to say next.
DON’T THEY?= If you look closely at the sentence you’ll find that this question tag doesn’t fit the sentence. This is because this question tag is not really part of the sentence the speaker said:
- You always see them... asking people “do you speak English”... quite loudly too.
As you can see, the final TOO makes the whole structure crumble (from a grammatical point of view), although it is perfectly correct in the flow of a conversation. This final TOO, to make sense, needs a hidden thought, something that the speaker has in mind but hasn’t actually said, although we all understand:
- You see them asking people “blah-blah”, and they ask people quite loudly too, don’t they?
So if we surface the hidden structure, we can see that the final question tag completely makes grammatical sense: They ask... don’t they?
SUSAN BOYLE= A Scottish singer who became famous when she won the British TV programme “Britain’s Got Talent” (similar to other programmes like “The X Factor”) in 2009.
ON OPRAH= Oprah Gail Winfrey is an American woman who has one of the most successful talk shows on TV, called “Oprah”. Here, they are using “Oprah” as the name of the show (not the name of the woman) and so they use the preposition ON because that is the preposition we use for TV:
- Peter was on television last night. He was on this programme where they interview famous people.
- You mean he was on Oprah?!
- Oh no, I’m talking of this morning programme on the local TV station here in Beach City.
- Oh, then you mean he was on “Mornings with Alex”.
- Yea, that’s right.
I MEAN= This phrase is used to repeat something in a different way so it is easier to understand:
- I don't think you can do this alone. I mean, those boxes are too heavy for just one person.
We can also use this phrase after some kind of exclamation, and then use I MEAN to explain what that exclamation really means:
- I mean, you look great (wrong)
- Wow! I mean, you look great! (right)
SHORT OF +ing= (coll.) Except, excluding.
- Short of some biscuits and an egg, there’s no food left in the kitchen.
LOCALS= People living in the area (as opposed to visitors, tourists or immigrants, who are foreigners or outsiders)
AT ALL= We use this phrase to emphasize negatives and questions:
- I like children – I do like children
- I don’t like children – I don’t like children at all
- Do you like children? – Do you like children at all?
SUBWAY (AmE)= Tube, underground, metro (a train servicing inside a city, usually underground). In British English we say “underground” (or "tube"), Americans say “subway”, and for many other non-English speaking countries (such as France, Spain or Russia) we say “metro” (short for: metropolitan train)
A PAIN IN THE ASS= (AmE ass = BrE arse) (rude) If someone or something is “a pain in the ass”, they are bothering you.