Same Language, Different Accents | SA 🇿🇦 US 🇺🇸 & AUS 🇦🇺 English

Lesson Overview

Lesson Summary 

Three English teachers from Hey Lady! 
Let’s compare Australian English, American English, and South African English. Jasmin, Dani & I speak the same language, but the words we use are sometimes completely different!

I’m REALLY excited about this video because I got to work with two language teachers from Hey Lady! – my online platform that connects women around the world and helps them to make friends, study and practise speaking English together! Jasmin is from the US and Dani is from SA – please show them some ❤️ in the comments!

So, you may be wondering – just how different are the words we use? It’s all English, right? Well, do you know what a barbie is? How about a robot? And do you say sneakers, takkies, or runners?

If you don’t know what these are, watch the video to find out You’ll expand your vocabulary by learning some different words used for the same thing, depending on which English you hear!

Video Transcript
Section 1
Well hey there I’m Emma from mmmEnglish and today I have such a fun lesson for you. We’re going to compare English from different parts of the world, South African English, American English and of course Australian English.

And specifically, we’ll get to hear the range of vocabulary or the different words that we use for really simple everyday objects. We all speak English as our native language but I think you’ll be really surprised by just how different some of the words that we use really are.

Some similarities, some really different.

And I will be joined by two amazing, very special guests, both making their Youtube debut so make sure you give them a little bit of love down in the comments. Both of my guests are language coaches from inside Hey Lady! and you may know Hey Lady! is my online community where women meet, make friends and practise speaking English together.

It really is the perfect place for women to build confidence and fluency with their English. It’s a space to get speaking practice, the speaking practice that you need to take your conversation skills up to the next level.

Now, of course, there is a link to find out more down in the description and I might pop one up there too. Ask me any questions you have down in the comments but right now let’s meet these guests.

Hi there! My name is Jasmine. I’m from the United States, more specifically the southeastern part of the United States which we call the south. So I love being a part of the Hey Lady! community and I’m very excited to get started with this pronunciation comparison between the different Englishes.

Hey everyone, I’m Dani. I’m one of the language coaches from Hey Lady! If you haven’t heard about it yet, it is an amazing online platform empowering women through English from all over the world.

Our coaching team is from all over the world and I’m from Cape Town in South Africa so I’m really looking forward to this today. Thanks Em for the invite. This is gonna be fun.

So in this video, you have a South African, an American and an Australian to listen to. Keep in mind that each of us represent just one voice, one accent from each of our countries.

So let’s compare some of the differences and similarities between these different Englishes.

Jasmin: Okey-dokey so this first one is a traffic light.

Dani: Look at the one you started off with. The most confusing word when anybody comes to South Africa is this. Yes, it’s a traffic light but in South Africa, we call it a robot.

Emma: Wow, a robot? If I was in South Africa, I would hear that and be completely confused. How cool. Confusing? Interesting.

Jasmin: So the next one is a sidewalk, the part where pedestrians walk which makes sense actually. It’s beside where you walk.

Dani: In South Africa, we call this a pavement. What’s it in Australia?

Emma: That’s interesting. Pavement, I think is what it’s referred to as in the UK as well, I think as we go through this video, we’ll pick up that there’s a connection between British English and Australian English and British English and South African English but interestingly there’re different similarities.

In Australia, we say footpath and if you compare all of them, they’re all quite logical. American sidewalk, Australian footpath and South African pavement. Pavement for us is probably more the surface, the material rather than the space or the place where you walk beside the road.

Jasmin: This is a roundabout. They are super uncommon where I’m from. One got installed in my hometown maybe a few years ago and you can just see people coming up on it and they’re kind of like…

Dani: Okay so this one over here we call a traffic circle. I know that we get laughed at because it’s a circle in the middle of an intersection so we call it a circle. You go around the traffic circle or over the traffic circle.

Emma: We call it a roundabout in Australia. They’re very common in Australia, we have lots of roundabouts so we’re very comfortable going over them. Dani was talking about the prepositions that are used together with the noun and I think when she said traffic circle she said “We go around the circle” or “over the circle” and it sounds a little odd to me to say around the roundabout.

We wouldn’t say that even though that makes the most sense, we would say through or over the roundabout and interestingly, when Jasmine was talking about approaching the roundabout, she was saying people come up on the roundabout and that sounds strange to me.

We would always say come up to the roundabout so even the way that we use prepositions around these different nouns is a little different.

Jasmin: So the thing that you touch at the centre of the steering wheel is called your horn so you… I guess you say you blow your horn, that can’t be right. You touched the horn? Yeah I guess you’d touch the horn. Usually we might say someone is leaning on the horn which means they use it too much, the sound that we use is the beep beep.

Dani: Boop boop. That’s a hooter.

Emma: Dani’s saying boop boop. Jasmine’s saying beep beep and again the words that we’re using with these nouns are a little different so Jasmine was saying “leaning on the horn” means that someone is like using it too much.

We use the noun horn here in Australia too but we use honk which is a really strange verb, honk the horn.

Jasmin: So the liquid that you put in your car is called gas. I’ve seen a video where someone was commenting that it’s so silly that Americans call it gas because it’s a liquid. We are well aware that it is a liquid but it is short for gasoline.

Dani: So we fill up our cars in South Africa with petrol. We say petrol and we go to the petrol station.

Emma: Same here Dani. In Australia, we fill up our cars with petrol and yes we call it a petrol station or a service station and if any of you have watched any of my videos about Australian slang, you’ll know that it is more common to use a short version of service station.

Can you remember? Servo. That’s right. We go to the servo to fill up with petrol. But you’ll also hear fuel being used as well like a fuel station. I need to get some fuel.

Jasmin: What we put on our lips to make them moisturised, not for you know beauty, not to give them colour but to moisturise them, I would say we either call them lip balm, kind of a hard word to say but I think this is also kind of a case where people use the brand name, a very popular brand name to refer to everything so people might say Chapstick which is a brand name to refer to every kind of lip balm, regardless of it if it’s a Chapstick brand or not.

Dani: This is lip ice and I think we also refer to it these days as lip balm. I know it’s also lip gloss although lip gloss is more the shiny one.

Emma: Lip ice is new to me Dani. I’ve never heard that before but it makes a lot of sense, lip ice, like it soothes, it cools your lips. Jasmine was talking about Chapstick as being a brand name and that often happens where maybe the noun or even the verb that we use is synonymous with a brand name.

We had Chapsticks in Australia as well but it never really became you would only refer to a chapstick as chapstick and you would say lip balm.

The other thing I picked up there was Jasmine’s pronunciation of balm. We would say balm with a silent L. So a lot like almond, we say almond and balm and I think in some American accents that L sound is pronounced, it’s a little trickier but it’s definitely heard, it’s not silent.

Jasmin: All right so this one is the cause of much frustration in the United States because what we call these assorted beverages is very, it varies depending on what region you are from in the United States and certain regions feel very strongly that their region is the only way that you should refer to them.

So for me personally I would call all of these things sodas. So a soda is something sweet, it’s fizzy and it comes in a can or a bottle. It can have multiple flavours like Coke or Sprite or orange soda or grape soda. In general, they’re called sodas.

In the midwest, they call these things pop. So pop, soda pop or just pop. I guess if you are going out you might even hear these things called fountain drinks, you know, the kind of machine that gives you the drink, it’s sometimes called a fountain so these are fountain drinks so you might see that on a menu. You probably wouldn’t hear someone say it.

My vote is to say that soda is the most common for the United States.

Emma: Oh my gosh, I had no idea that there was such an array of different words for these drinks. They’re so common and yet they’re referred to so differently. I wonder what Dani’s got to say about it.

Dani: These are fizzy drinks in South Africa. Fizzy drinks are Coke and Fanta and Sprite. The plain water with bubbles is just soda, soda water. Soda’s plain water with bubbles and all the different flavours are fizzy drinks.

Emma: That is exactly the same as Australia, Dani. We call all of the flavoured drinks with bubbles, we call them fizzy drinks and soda definitely refers to water with bubbles in it. Carbonated water.

Jasmin: This is a barbecue, so barbecue can be the noun as in we’re having a barbecue which might mean we’re having a party where we will grill foods on the barbecue. And it’s also a verb so we barbecued last night but that’s what we call it.

Dani: This is the most South African thing and word, it’s called a braai. It’s not a barbecue, it’s very different. Braai is to cook over an open flame but it’s not just the fire to cook, the fire is a whole day event, it’s a whole ritual.

Emma: Of course in Australia, we’d like to rival that and say barbecue is definitely our national dish. We certainly call it barbecue but again, Australian slang usually sees us shorten these words and we use barbecue so often we are always saying barbie.

We can use that to talk about the event like Jasmine was saying, come around to my house for a barbie or I’m just gonna put some sausages on the barbie.

Jasmin: And these are fries.

Dani: Oh hot chips, not french fries. In South Africa, we call them hot chips.

Emma: In Australia too. Hot chips in Australia.

Jasmin: These little vegetables are called zucchini.

Dani: In South Africa, we call this vegetable baby marrow but it’s also known as a courgette. We do not call them courgettes.

Emma: And in Australia, we are most familiar with zucchini and I think these days more and more people are familiar with courgette. I’d say maybe ten, twenty years ago, not many Australians would really know what a courgette is. I think that’s changing now.

Jasmin: So first off, in America, we would call this specific leafy green arugula, that’s the name for it.

Dani: That is rocket.

Emma: Yeah, that’s rocket. This vegetable is that peppery salad leaf.

Emma: I’m gonna jump in early here and say these are biscuits.

Jasmin: Chocolate chip cookies. They are not biscuits. A biscuit is a delicious breakfast treat, they’re usually savoury, they’re fluffy. You cut them open, you can put something like jam in them, you might have like a sandwich, like a biscuit sandwich, so you might have sausage and egg or bacon in your biscuit but we’re not talking about biscuits. Here we have cookies. They are sweet, there are lots of different kinds of them.

Emma: That is so interesting Jasmine, what you just described to me, I’m picturing in my head what we would call an English muffin. It’s savoury, we usually have it at breakfast maybe with eggs. Let’s hear what Dani has to say about these biscuits.

Dani: Okay so these are chocolate chip cookies but we don’t actually say cookies, we say biscuits in South Africa. For some reason, chocolate chip cookies is just the name of a chocolate chip cookie but for all other flavours, it’s a biscuit.

Emma: That’s a good point actually Dani, I think we’d say the same here. What is it about chocolate chip cookie? It like rolls off the tongue and that style of biscuit is probably sometimes called cookie.

Jasmin: Looks like a frozen treat. We call these popsicles.

Dani: These are ice lollies. I know in Australia they say icy poles. I don’t know what they say in America.

Emma: Yeah we say icy poles here in Australia. The ones with the stick on them. The ones that Jasmine was describing, the plastic tube that’s full of liquid and frozen, we would call them lick sticks which has only just dawned on me how funny that is.

Jasmin: If they’re more for fashion I would say it’s a sneaker. If they’re more for being athletic I would say a running shoe or tennis shoe.

Dani: What could we say? We call these takkies but we also would call them running shoes.

Emma: Yeah I guess that’s the same here. I haven’t heard of takkies before that sounds like South African slang. Quite cool, I think. We don’t really use sneakers very much at all. We would say runners or trainers, would probably be the most familiar.

Jasmin: This is a flip-flop.

Dani: This is not a thong Australia, this is not a thong. A thong is something else. These are flip-flops or slip slaps.

Emma: I love slip slaps, that’s so cute. We don’t use that word here. We use thongs, it’s always very funny to the rest of the world but plural. It’s not thong, it’s thongs and it’s a pair of shoes that you would wear to the beach.

Jasmin: This article of clothing that you wear in the wintertime is a sweater.

Dani: This is a jersey, we call it a jersey in South Africa and it’s woolen and big and warm and cozy.

Emma: Well that’s interesting. So we’ve got three different words. Australians, we call this a jumper. So we had sweater, jersey and jumper.

Jasmin: So this has two names, it could either be a trash can, it could also be a garbage can, either one.

Dani: This is a dustbin.

Emma: That’s interesting, we call it a rubbish bin, so we’ve got a few different names there.

Jasmin: So this one also has a lot of variations depending on where it is, what region you’re in, if it’s covered or not. So if this is in the south where I’m from, we are most likely to call this area a porch. If it is something that wraps around your house, especially if it’s in the front of your house, you might call it a front porch or a wrap-around porch.

Dani: So the covered area outside of your house where you can sit and relax is the patio. Out on the patio.

Emma: Yeah I think patio is reasonably common here in Australia. It’s made of timber. And what Jasmine was describing as a wraparound porch or a front porch, we would probably call veranda here in Australia.

Jasmin: So this looks like an eraser.

Dani: This is a silly one, I don’t know why we call this a rubber. It’s made of rubber. An eraser, we say eraser maybe sometimes but these are rubbers.

Emma: You laugh Dani, that’s what we call them as well! We call these rubbers, I guess it’s a funny name but you rub out your pencil. We use eraser but it seems quite formal, much more casual and relaxed and much more common to use rubber.

Jasmin: These are markers. Yep, just markers.

Dani: These are khokies.

Emma: Khokies, that’s interesting. I think it’s just as interesting as what we refer to them as. In Australia, they’re textas.

Jasmin: I would call this a comforter so a comforter is a big fluffy thing that goes on top of your bed.

Dani: I’m so glad that you put this one in because it’s not a doona. I know that they say that in Australia, that’s a crazy word. It’s a duvet.

Emma: How is duvet any more or less crazy than doona, Dani? It’s a doona.

I hope that you enjoyed today’s lesson as much as I did and learned something new. Listening to different types of English is always fascinating and it always has this lovely sense of rivalry or competition between which type of English is the right English and I’m very much looking forward to the next video that’s coming up on mmmEnglish.

Make sure you subscribe to the channel, you give this video a like if you enjoyed it and come back and see me in the next lesson. Bye for now!

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