Even if English is your native language, there are many variations around the world, not to mention slang and localised sayings. If an American told you he was wearing “blue pants”, that would conjure up a totally different image coming from a Brit! Never mind a Londoner bragging about his new “blue strides”.
In today’s cosmopolitan society, we speak to people from all over the world on a daily basis, and multi-cultural conversation is common-place. Unfortunately, many of us (especially the British – myself included), would rather just nod our head or smile when we didn’t understand something, rather than embarrass ourselves by asking someone what they actually meant. Could be very awkward if you’ve just agreed to something that you didn’t realise!
Here are a few random questions taken from our database as an example. Some are everyday British English, others are from around the world. Test yourself and see how well you do…
1) ‘Shoulder to the wheel’ means?
a) Argument b) Effort c) Fight d) Nasty Person
2) ‘Barking up the wrong tree’ means?
a) Confused b) Okay c) Kiss d) Well behaved
3) ‘Threw a wobbly’ means?
a) Speed up b) Angry c) Obvious d) Intrusive
4) ‘Carved in stone’ means?
a) Odd mentality b) Definite c) Congratulations d) Aristocratic
5) ‘All smoke and mirrors’ means?
a) Deceit b) Died c) Easy victory d) Lost
6) ‘Given the raw prawn’ to an Australian means?
a) Rejected b) Nothing c) Questionable d) Talkative
7) ‘Naafi’ to a South African means?
a) Angry b) Does not care c) Unfair d) Slow
8) ‘Hunker down’ to an American means?
a) No money b) Repetitive c) Finish d) Waiting
9) ‘Gansey’ to an Irishman means?
a) Jumper b) Mislead c) Poor quality d) Commence
10) ‘Skollie’ to a South African means?
a) Criminal b) Happy c) Selfish d) Police
So how did you do? Check your anwers here:
1) b, 2) a, 3) b, 4) b, 5) a, 6) a, 7) b, 8) d, 9) a, 10) a
You can find many more examples, and test yourself as often as you like using our online Understanding English test page. Better still, join us today to improve your understanding of spoken english around the world!