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Tuesday, October 30, 2007 


Here I am now, well into my fourth English fall. Yes, I say 'fall' and not 'autumn,' much to the chagrin of nearly every Brit I've met.

Me: Ah! What a gorgeous fall day!
Brit: A what day?
M: Fall day.
B: Pardon?
M: Fall, as in the season.
B: Fall? What's this now?
M: *eyes narrowing* You know, after summer, before winter.
B: *grinning widely* Don't follow you.

And this goes on until a stream of curse words starts to pour out of me. I'm not kidding, I've had this exact conversation at least twenty times since moving here. I don't know what it about the word 'fall' that makes me insist on using it singularly (I do promise that I have given in to many other regional dialect preferences) while at the same time makes the natives refuse to recognize it (often they enjoy hearing my take on the vocabulary differences, for taking the piss if nothing else). But with 'fall' we are at an impasse. I guess to me, 'autumn' sounds outrageously pretentious. It's a very pretty word but somehow I can't say it without feeling like a total prat. (#57: Insistence on using the word 'autumn'.)

Anyway, to wash this unpleasantness away, today I took some photos of my favorite tree in front of one of my favorite London buildings:

Fall indeed. Summer 2007, we hardly knew ye.

I'm with ya - I'm an American, been here ten years, happily assimilated, but I hit the same reaction when I insist on saying 'fall'... I refuse to say 'autumn' for exactly the same reasons you do. I think every so often I allow myself the secret luxury of reverting to a comfortable Americanism... after all, they get the best efforts from me over here most of the time!

Of any word to stubbornly stick to, Fall is a good one. It's what we used to use too until we wanted to be all la-di-da sophisticated and sound French, whereas the conservative colonists weren't having any of that.

I'm quite comfortable using American words in conversation.. cellphone, railroad or school (instead of Uni) pop up every now and then - I even pronounce 'Oregano' in an american accent. However, I could never bring myself to say 'Fall', it brings about the same uneasy feeling as wearing uber smart shoes and a shirt to the local pub.

You don't wear a shirt to the pub?! I am now very excited to come to Wales!!

who the hell has a favorite tree

Interestingly, 'Fall' was actually a British term was brought over to the States before Independence. It eventually fell out of favor in the motherland and was replaced by autumn.

Anon - It "fell" out of favour huh?

Mon - By shirt I mean one with a collar, I do wear clothes most of the time.

Indeed it was used in England before the adoption of autumn. The term 'fall' can be seen in Shakespeare.

"taking the piss " - now there's a good UK-english-ism

Understand. I refuse to use "trousers" in place of "pants" and you can imagine how *those* conversations go.

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