Brilliant Scheme

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I’m working in London this week, and I find myself saying things like, “I’ll be on holiday soon,” just so I’ll fit in with the locals so they’ll understand and like me better. As if they’ve never heard the expression, “I’m going on vacation.” There are a few words and phrases, however, that don’t translate perfectly from British to American English:

1. “Our company has developed an intricate pension scheme.” Nothing shady’s going on; “scheme” just means “plan.”

2. “I’ll open my diary for you.” You’re not getting someone’s intimate thoughts; “diary” just means “schedule.”

3. “This is brilliant.” Don’t think you’re necessarily a genius; “brilliant” just means “great.”

4. “Cheers.” No one’s offering a pint. It’s a catch-all for “thanks,” “best,” ”regards,” etc.

If you’re an American, don’t feel you have to use the British word for them to understand you. In fact, when an American uses “Cheers” at the close of an email some people may think the writer never got over his junior year abroad.

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