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*This post is dedicated to BRSM, on the occasion of his move to the United States*

Let’s talk language. Time, geographical separation, and the odd rebellion have pulled the United States and the United Kingdom apart, and this has left it’s mark on the lexicon. Strange words are in use in North America, while familiar ones like queue, titfer, chinwag and yonks have fallen out of favour (or never gained it)  [1]. Accents are also a little…different in America.To put it mildly, be prepared for the words you say to have a little more authority than you’re used to.

While you may think that this increased authority is limited to high-class English accents, in truth most of the people you meet no idea what a high-class English accent sounds like. From the rolling R’s of Scotland to the most incomprehensible Welsh sing-song, all British accents are appreciated, and all can lend authority to your words. Use this power for good: teach the undergrads of your new lab proper safety protocols and thrill graduate students with strange and mysterious tales. However, beware the faculty. Most professors travel regularly and are quite inured to the powers of your accent.

Outside the lab, consider giving back to the community. Volunteer to record automated messages for airports and subways, where your words can ensure that baggage is not left unattended and travelers stay behind the painted lines. Spend time at the nearby clubs and bars, thrilling locals with tall tales and “traditional” drinking songs. And in your travels be tolerant of the strangers who crack jokes about British dental care [2] and insist on calling you “guv’nor”. The Irish have it far worse.


[1] “Favour” has also fallen out of ‘favor’. You may as well throw half your u’s out now.

[2] This joke comes from an early Simpson’s episode. Memorize quotations from the first eight seasons of the Simpsons and you’ll blend in easily.

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