We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.
Oscar Wilde, The Canterville Ghost
I have decided to try for my UK driver’s license. Or, as they call it here, my driving license. And right there is a clue to the most difficult part of studying for my theory test: the terminology.
Yes, it has been many years since I took a US driving test and got my license there. And it has been a handful of years since I let that license expire and stopped driving. But I’m not too worried about the practical side of it. Many of the instincts will come back quickly, I’m sure, and even driving on the opposite side of the road isn’t too intimidating — after 4 years in the UK I’m used to the way the roads work here. (And I certainly know the signs better than I did when we arrived in Germany!)
But the terminology just may get me before I even get to the practical bit. I like to think that I’ve picked up a lot of British terminology, phrases, and even intonation since moving here. But as I go through practice tests in driving theory it’s clear that there’s plenty I haven’t learned yet, such as:
- Estate car
- Pelican crossing
- Central reservation
- Single/double carriageway
Once I know what in the heck these words are referring to (station wagon, light-controlled pedestrian crossing, parking lights, median strip, and undivided/divided highway, respectively) I’m just fine and it’s usually abundantly clear what answer I’m looking for. And perhaps some of these terms are new to British drivers, as well, and that’s part of the test — but I honestly couldn’t tell you which ones!
(If you’re in a similar situation and learning to drive in the UK, I strongly recommend checking to see if your local library has an agreement with Theory Test Pro. You can get access to their study materials for free, and I’m finding them quite useful. This is not a sponsored post! I just genuinely appreciate using them to study.)