Damian Green, MP for Ashford and Immigration Minister, is bringing forward to the autumn measures requiring those coming to the UK as spouses to prove that anyone who moves to Britain is planning to integrate themselves into society. The new measures will include an English language test for spouses to ensure that only those whose command of English allows them to play a full part in British life are able to settle in the UK.
Well, I didn’t get married to Steve in order to remain in the UK (I’m already very firmly here) but we do acknowledge our cross-cultural relationship and have managed to cross the language barrier. It helps that I’ve lived over here for so long and have been an Anglophile since I was 8 and Steve has worked in the US and has many friends and relations in North America. Even though I’ve lived in the UK for nearly 12 years, I still use very American words and idioms and am constantly learning new British words and turns of phrase. It’s fascinating!
Strangely enough, over the past few weeks, I have found myself becoming more Californian. The part of Italy that we were in for our honeymoon, the Amalfi Coast has a distinctly Mediterranean ecosystem which is only found in five relatively small areas around the planet: the region bordering the Mediterranean Sea, central Chile, the Cape region of South Africa, southwestern and southern Australia, and California south to northern Baja California. The Mediterranean climate, moderated by cold ocean currents offshore, is characterized by mild, rainy winters and warm, dry summers.
I saw plants everywhere that I grew up seeing in Southern California. And the vibe was very relaxed, chilled out and laid back. When I drove from the airport in Naples down to the coast road, I turned on the radio to the Eagles singing ‘Hotel California’. Perfection!! Maybe it is also that it’s summertime and I am in newlywed bliss, but I feel very mellow and my current mantra is “Take it easy”.
I used to make a very concentrated effort in many of my blog posts to clarify British and American words and sayings, but lately, I’ve been slipping a bit. My friend Miranda asked me just what do I mean when I say ‘market‘? I said a supermarket, a grocery store. She explained that in British English, a market is a temporal and temporary space for a weekly farmer’s market, or a permanent structure with stalls set up where traders vend their wares, like an indoor market or a pannier market. I knew that, but didn’t feel like going into the linguistic nuances.
Still, I can’t help wondering how I would have done on that English language test.