Tuesday, 4 November 2014

A meal by any other name.......

If we have a Sunday roast, we usually have it late afternoon/early evening.  Usually just because by the time I've got the kids up, dressed, breakfasted and ready to face the day, the last thing that I feel like cooking is a full Sunday roast.  When I was growing up though, we always had Sunday dinner at, well, dinner time.  When 'dinner time' actually is though, is one of those things that really depends on where you're from.  For me it was the meal in the middle of the day, we had breakfast, dinner and tea. Last week, I cooked a roast in the middle of the day, and ended up confusing my kids.

A meal by any other name......

The conversations went a bit like this:
Child "Is this tea?"
Me "No, it's Sunday dinner."
Child "So are we going to bed soon?"
Me "No, it's the middle of the day"
Child "So is this lunch"
Me "Yes, sort of, but you can call it dinner too"
Child "But isn't dinner time at night?"

When is tea time?

It was another of those times where I was reminded that although I grew up in an English speaking country, and New Zealand is an English speaking country, we're all actually talking a different language.  As I said before, I grew up with breakfast, which seems to be pretty universal, dinner (at school after all we had school dinners and dinner ladies) and then tea.  Tea was usually in our house a cooked meal, rather than high tea with cucumber sandwiches as I suspect the upper classes might have.  I believe that in some areas of the UK, the evening meal is called supper, which is even odder, surely that's a snack before bed.

Supper a snack before bed

When we first came to New Zealand, I started to notice quite a few differences in language.  The first time someone mentioned 'morning tea' to me, I must have spent at least a week asking my husband how you could possibly have MORNING tea, when tea was quite clearly an afternoon meal.  What kind of crazy was that?!  There of course, were many other instances where language had a different meaning over here.  The time someone mentioned to my son that he might want to take his pants of when he was paddling, and he stripped his whole bottom half off, undies and all, as that's what he knew pants to be.  My deep amusement every time I see HOT chips advertised, I mean really, what other type is there?

Is it dinner time yet?

What all of this really shows though, is just how diverse the English language is.  This isn't just a difference between New Zealand and England though, it's really about the difference between the little bit of the world I grew up in (aka round our way) and the little bit of the world I'm now living in.  There are many phrases and words that I grew up with on a day to day basis that would have most of the rest of England, let alone the rest of the English speaking world, scratching their head over.  Even here in NZ, a relatively new country, there are variations in language between different parts.  My mother in law for example, had certainly never luxed her carpet when she lived in Auckland, although it's the common word for vaccuming down here.

I love all of this variation in language, long may it continue.  The only downside is of course, that should you invite me around for dinner, who know's what time I'll turn up.....