Defending and Absorbing

Every now and then, the hint of American intonations and language break into our household sounds. Rufus asks ‘Billy, do you want play a game?’ with a definite upswing in his speech, I talk about going to the grocery store instead of the supermarket, and we are caught up in a game of cops as we wave to the mailman. 

While I’m quick to nudge in with the more familiar English word, or the way we’ve been saying ‘Billy’ since he was born, slowly but surely American parlance is beginning to pervade. My instinctive response is to fight back – to come out swinging with carefully chosen English words, to see off intonations with my southern English accent and to guard our culture as we begin to assimilate that which is all around us. 

But, while eager to remain English, I’m aware that we are making our home in a different country in which we want to feel comfortable, to be able to relate to people and to fully make life work as a family. Abrasive defence of our English identity probably doesn’t advance that cause, and may not be the most loving approach to those around us. 

I have no doubt that as people walk into our home, are offered a cup of tea and are greeted by very English ‘hellos’ they are aware of our cultural identity. Bolstered by various patriotic sports tops, marmite on tap and Sara Cox on with Radio 2’s background noise, we are very much an English family in America. 

However, we like America. We like the people, we like where we live, we like the way life happens around us, and we are enjoying making our home here. We try and be as open-housed as possible, having people over whenever we can, and with that open-housed comes an open door to American culture. Lines become blurred and there’s a to-ing and fro-ing between what is of here, and what is of there. And it’s good. Cultures merge, and we embrace who we are in this moment with these people, enjoying our differences as well as absorbing that which is new and different. 

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Snowy fun while trying to get used to very un-English temperatures! 

One thought on “Defending and Absorbing

  1. I am the opposite – trying to hold onto some of my American speech but living in the UK. We have been here 6 years and I am amazed how many words have crept into our conversations. Today, I said, garage like a local. It almost hurt my ears. I am not sure I can aluminium like a local. Happy settling.

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