Language as we know can throw us a curve ball every now and again, even between different countries that speak the same language.
I was brought up in Australia.
In Australia, what we Brits call ‘Flip-Flops’, in Oz they call them ‘Thongs’. I’m sure that causes some merriment amongst English tourists when they are told they can wear thongs all day in the hot weather, even on the beach.
I remember going into Woolworths not long after I came to England and asking if they sold thongs, size 10, preferably black. The assistant gave me what I thought was a bit of an odd look, and scurried away to get her manager.
If that’s not bad enough, in Oz, the sticky tape (Sellotape) that most people use is named after its manufacturer- Durex.
As a child, I remember reading the English newspapers that had been sent over to Australia wondering why so many people were advertising Durex in the back pages of the paper, and why on earth anyone would want a box of 100.
Also, I could understand why coloured Durex was popular, after all, it would make presents look pretty- but why was it flavoured?
(Even worse, I had no idea why ribbed sellotape would be made ‘for her pleasure’).
And…why would you advertise Sellotape on the same page as massages? Or places with names like ‘Bubbles’ where you could go to get a massage and buy sellotape at the same time ??
So…picture the scene. It’s 1977, and I am in W.H.Smiths in Gloucester, with my brown skin, long hair, strange accent, asking the very young lady assistant where the Durex could be found. I think I used to frighten a lot of shop assistants back then!!