You would think that we Americans speak English, and those Brits speak English, so we should all have a jolly old time understanding each other.
You'd be wrong.
The problem is that it is all supposed to be English, but really I speak American and the British Guy speaks British. (Though he claims he is the only native English speaker in this household.)
Living with a Brit, I think of it more as two similar but subtly distinct languages. Even after 10 years we have fairly regular exchanges that result in one of us looking at the other like they just turned purple with yellow spots and asking "What the h@ll did you just say?"
In some cases, words are completely different and context clues rule. If I told you to put the spare tire in the trunk, and the British Guy said to put it in the boot, I think you could figure it out. Same with lift and elevator. Brolly and umbrella.
Confusing rubber and eraser could serve as the slightly shocking but hilarious misunderstanding underpinning a rather bad romcom plot. [Note that this only works one way and if you ask for an eraser, no matter what the context, you'll get... an eraser.]
Sometimes, and rather sneakily, we Brits and Americans will use the same word but mean slightly different things. It took me a while to realize that the British Guy always looked panicked when the airplane pilot said '...we'll be landing momentarily...' because in American it means we'll be landing IN a moment, but in British it means we'll be landing FOR a moment.
Food words are no exception to the general confusion.
One particularly complicated topic at the moment is squash.
The long, thin green ones, I call them zucchini.
The British Guy calls them courgettes.
Zucchini = Courgette. I could understand a flat out word swap. Courgette is French, Zucchini is Italian. Different words for the same thing, from different linguistic sources.
However, after a decade of thinking we were of like mind when discussing squash (not that we discuss the intricacies of squash all the time), I just realized a few days ago that we have been having a fundamental squash misunderstanding for our entire relationship.
To him, every squash is a courgette.
Long, thin, yellow, green. Whatever.
To me, squash is squash if they're yellow or anything else and zucchini are zucchini if they're long and green.
He wonders why I call one squash and one zucchini when they have the same shape.
I say 'Duh - they're two completely different colors!'
And get glared at, perhaps justifiably.
Now, though, you are as informed as I am about this hotbed of grammatical complexity and can successfully navigate any discussion of squash in all its forms and shapes.