Monday, May 9, 2016

M5 Road Trip

My first visit to the UK was to the city where my then fiance grew up, which was Coventry, England. He was born and grew up there with his brother, Dave and his Mum and Dad.  We were invited to his niece's wedding and needed to hire a car and drive there for all of the wedding activities.  Steve's Dad had not been doing well health wise and was not exactly thrilled about being put in a car and having to drive for a couple of hours to events where he would have to be pushed around in a wheel chair. This was, after all, his niece's wedding so probably that alone is what helped to motivate him to at least try.  That, and the fact that he could stay with his son in their home while we were there. Steve's brother found us a lovely, quaint little Inn nearby.

Steve did the driving and the car was a larger car in UK standards with four doors so his Dad sat in the back with his wife.  Now please bear in mind that this was the first time that I had met anyone in Steve's family.  I am sure they were questioning who this American woman was that he was bringing over to go to a very special wedding.  They were full of questions, good questions, showing that they were interested in me and finding out about my life in the States. They made very sweet comments about how they thought that I looked like a movie star and how they loved my Southern accent.

Then the big day for the trip came.  There was a lot of conversation and as we talked I would read out loud the signs as we passed billboards and road signs while driving.  These signs that would tell you how far away cities, towns and businesses were on down the road.  I would say, "Oh look, we are not too far away from the Jaguar factory.  Steve's Dad asked me to repeat what I had just said.  He chuckled and asked me if I meant the Jag  -  you   -   are factory?  I thought we were speaking different languages so I said no, I don't think so because I do not know what that is.  I am talking about the car.  At that point he was laughing out loud.  Not at me, in particular............ at my American pronunciation.After all, this was the place they manufactured these cars.  So we talked about that for a while until the next time we passed a sign and I said it looks like we are coming into Leicester.  My pronunciation of this city is Li  -  ches  -  ter. Why?  Because I grew up hearing it that way in a subdivision called Trafalgar Square and it was even spelled Leichester.  Well, now he had tears rolling down his face because he was laughing so hard.  As Steve and his Mum shared later, they had never heard him laugh like this for ages.  So, I just did my own thing and pronounced cites and towns that popped up on signs whenever he asked me to. Worcestershire was a knee slapper because I put in the 4 syllables.  Whereas, the British pronounce it as Wu  - ster  -  sure.  Almost ever shire is a sure.  Staffordshire is not Staffordshire but Stafford - sure.  As is Warwickshire  -  Warwick  -  sure.

And then there are the names like Birmingham.  Now I do not live that far away from Birmingham, Alabama.  And if I said I am going down to Birming  -  uhm  - no one would know what I was saying. Then there are the towns  that have bury on the last syllable such as Banbury.  Now that seems simple enough.  I know the nursery rhyme of going to Banbury.  Who knew that for 40 years I had been saying it all wrong.  Anything with bury at the end is pronounced quickly with a berry and not slowly with a southern Banbury accent.

This wonderful man, my fiance's Dad, never even knew that he was in the car for several hours because he was laughing the whole way.  And of course, once we arrived where we were to be, he had the fun of telling of the drive. Not once was I offended or made to feel that I was being made fun of.  It was simply the fact that we supposedly speak the same language, we just have many totally different pronunciations.

Apparently that trip over the pond caused a lot of pronunciation changes for the Pilgrims over the years, as well as other changes.  The one thing that my dear sweet husband keeps letting me know, is that I helped his Dad in so many ways, while really not even knowing it. So there....... I am so very proud that my Southern accent helped someone out and gave him such fun.

Road trips, as I have said in blogs before, can be full of so many new adventures and good times.  

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