Friday, April 23, 2010

Poppy and her Wonky Bunches

We are one of a few American families at our little community school which despite the "International School" moniker is solidly entrenched in the British system, Cambridge University specifically. The kids learn "Letterland" in preschool and then move on to "Jolly Phonics" for early primary (which by the way, is 'brilliant' as they say). The homework reading is mostly british and the spelling tests test the limits: colour, neighbour, centre, realise, aluminium to name a few.

It's fascinating--many elements I appreciate (not having "Everyday Math" for one!) and many things leave us Yanks scratching our heads. Some of the literacy homework assignments we simply can't figure out and other things, especially reading homework are so funny we can't get through it. Owen's homework the other day included a story about Poppy and her wonky bunches.

EXCUSE ME?! Is this appropriate for a 7 year old?

Other things we have trouble with:
Clothes: Kit, Costume, Jerseys, Jumpers, knickers, pants = uniform, swimsuit, sweater, coat, underpants, underpants (american 'pants' are called 'trousers' - we've had lots of laughs about the pants confusion) Some certain American I know once brought her kids to a party in their dress-up clothes b/c the invitation said to "bring your costumes" --- they were mortified to learn to late that it was a pool party not a costume party. oops.
Everyday things: rubbers, bins, rubbish, fringe = erasers, trashcan, garbage, bangs (hair)

Then there are the Zam-glish expressions: "Now" means later where "now-now" actually means now, like "right away" (unless of course I get distracted by something in which case, it reverts back to "later.") "I"m coming just now" means, "I'm going later." HE and SHE are interchangable and mostly they are reversed.

I got a funny look the other night when I asked the kids to "wash up".....our friends thought we wanted them to do the dishes....thankfully the kids knew they just needed to wash their hands. Braces is another one -- there is a zambian expression for them which escapes me, but braces (or is it bracers?) I think are suspenders. We are trying to figure out what "tea" is. Near as I can sort out, Tea is like an early dinner/supper. It has NOTHING to do with the tea that you drink. OR DOES IT? And while we are on food, "relish" is a vegetable side dish you eat with your nshima/mealie-meal/meilepap.

Other expressions (forgive me if I'm repeating myself) we have to pause and think about: daft (dense as is, in the brain), knackered (exhausted), shattered (very exhausted), mug (sucker), mad (crazy). Crazy is a funny one b/c we use it casually but here if you say someone is crazy it is taken literally -- you are saying they need to be locked up in the loony bin (which ironically is on the Chainama Hospital Grounds where Mr. 13Socks office is.....)

Confused much? There are some really endearing expressions that sneak in too. "Is it" covers a lot of bases. It's almost like saying "Really." or "Really?" but not quite in the same way. More like "Is that so?" It can get tacked on at the end of most any sentence or inserted into any conversation much like 'ah' or 'um.' Finn embraces 'is it' enthusiastically.

Wonky bunches?

Pig/pony tails that are crooked or messy.


Kathi of Clan Church said...

You're right - you're lucky to be dodging the Everyday Math program. Luckily, I think Hank's teacher successfully skirts around it for the most part. Ah, but what will happen next year when he's exposed to it full force? Argh.

Juliane said...

My favorite expressions is: "Oh, shame!"