Beard, Whiskers, Scruff

My son came home from school today with a puppet he had been working on for three weeks in his art class. He calls it “Mister Mustache”. It is a black mustachioed stick puppet with yellow hair, red lips, brown eyes and is wearing a red cape-like thing for clothes. (As an aside, the other boys in his class all made Star Wars puppets – Good Anakin, Bad Anakin, Luke Skywalker, et al. All of the girls made princess puppets. My son, however, made “Mister Mustache”???) After we get home from school, LittleE asks me, “Dad, where is my backpack, I have something to show you.” As soon as I get it out of the truck of my car he pulls out his take-home folder and inside is our new little friend. He pulls the thing out and starts bouncing it up and down saying (in a different and somewhat silly voice), “Hi. I’m Mister Mustache and I (pause) am (pause) silly. If you don’t watch out I’m going to bump you on head, on your arm and on your bum.” Bum is a word that he has picked up at school. In his class there are a few other Americans. For the rest there is a Spaniard, a Chilean, Danes, Swedes, a Swiss, Greeks, and so on. So when LittleE comes home with a new Briticism it makes me chuckle. British English is the lingua franca of the international community here. If I am talking to someone who I know is not a North American (US and Canada) I will use as many British words as seems natural. While I can (or will) never call an apartment a “flat” to another American, it doesn’t feel affected to me at all to use “flat” to a Dutch or an Italian that I’m speaking to in English. I can use “wellies” and feel no shame, but I cannot for the life of me use the word “jumper” for a sweater. I have no problem using “courgette” or “aubergine” in regular conversation but “brilliant” being used as an adjective meaning “very good” or “excellent” will never be heard from me. “Hob” and “cooker” are both good words that I would have no problem using back in the States and probably will, but “Give me a tinkle,” well now…

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