English: US vs. British

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by leopold, Apr 16, 2011.

  1. leopold Valued Senior Member

    it's time once again to rub our fellow friends noses in it.
    so sidle up and mosey on down.
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  3. John99 Banned Banned

    Well forgive me for the inquiry. Do you mean "Olde English" .vs some modern forms, which incidentally would not be U.S.
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  5. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    Theatre vs theater, gray versus grey?

    My spellcheck has an American bias!
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Thank Noah Webster for that. When he set out to write the first dictionary of the American language, in his patriotic fervor he decided that it was important for a reader to be able to tell at a glance that what he is reading is, indeed, American English rather than British.

    So he picked through the writings of American leaders and found a few preferences which he thought would make the distinction clear. -ize and -ization instead of -ise and isation; -or instead of -our; -er instead of -re. I think that covers about 90% of it.

    The rest of the differences usually reflect actual word choices, such as stroller, (electrical) ground, windshield and wrench instead of pram, earth, windscreen and spanner.

    Then there are one-of-a-kind differences such as aluminum/aluminium. This isn't a whimsical respelling; we actually pronounce the words differently. We say uh-LOO-mi-num; they say al-yoo-MIN-yum.

    Americans occasionally affect British spelling as a way of implying sophistication--it's so much easier than, for example, standing in line instead of trying to go through a door all at once. My favorite example of this faux intellectualism gone horribly wrong is the Los Angeles Theatre Center.
  8. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

  9. mathman Valued Senior Member

    mathematics shortened: UK - maths, US - math. How did this develop?
  10. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The same way we ended up with elevator, truck, torch and pick you up, and they ended up with lift, lorry, flashlight and knock you up. Slang is local. By the time a useful slang word percolates up into the standard language the damage is done.
  11. drumbeat Registered Senior Member

    "Pick you up" means getting you pregnant?! That's what "knock you up" means in the UK. Plus no one says flashlight.
  12. superstring01 Moderator

    I like when I'm watching the news on BBC America and they say, "Now in sport!" I always find myself thinking, Wait. . . just one sport? Aren't there many? In the US it's, "Now in sports!"

  13. superstring01 Moderator

    I think we're the ones who ended up with "flashlight" while they ended up with "torch".

    Funny thing, I watch "Law & Order: UK" (which is awesome, BTW. . . three words: men in wigs!) and every time they say, "Fetch me a torch out of the boot (trunk [of the car])", I get this image of a wooden pole with one end wrapped in pitch soaked linen, lit on fire with a few sparks of flint. [[swings torch in front of him]] "GET AWAY YE BEASTIES!!"

    Plus I pick up all sorts of British slang:
    bollocks : balls [testicles]
    torch : flashlight
    nick : steel [smallish things like "to lift" as in "shop lift"]
    bonnet : hood [of a car]
    snog : to make out
    post : mail
    quid : pounds [like "bucks" are to dollars]
    barrister : attorney
    pram : baby carriage
    stone : about 14lbs
    trolley : shopping cart [what southerners annoyingly call a "buggy"]

    And there's about a gazillion more!

    Last edited: Apr 18, 2011
  14. John99 Banned Banned

    One of my favorites is "Lorry". Where the hell did that come from?
  15. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    Seems that some folks find the differences to be annoying - but personally, I find them to be interesting and often amusing. Often times, I also find the usage to be pretty descriptive. One example, on my first visit to the UK I discovered that what Americans call an "eraser" the British call a "rubber". Both seem very clear and appropriate to me.

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  16. John99 Banned Banned

    LOL...some kid says in school "go get me a rubber" they will call security. jk.
  17. drumbeat Registered Senior Member

    Bullock is cattle!
    Bollocks are your balls.

    This is bollocks = This is bullshit.
    This is the dog's bollocks = this is very good.
  18. drumbeat Registered Senior Member

    An eraser is called a rubber because you rub it out.
    A condom is sometimes called a rubber, but is mainly called a johnny.
  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I somehow reversed it. "Pick you up" in America and "knock you up" in England means to stop at your house and take you somewhere.
    Sorry, the Brits say torch and we say flashlight.
    There are two kinds of attorneys in the U.K. Barristers argue cases in court. Solicitors do the investigation and preparation.
    It's a contraction of perambulator.
    It's an old word for "to drag" or "to lug." In the days before internal combusion "truck" was a generic word for anything with wheels that could be used to transport stuff. We still refer to the pivoting wheel assemblies on which railroad cars ride as "trucks," and of course a "hand truck" is a two-wheeled sort of upright dolly.
  20. drumbeat Registered Senior Member

    Knock you up in the UK means getting someone pregnant.
    Pick you up in the UK means meet you with my car to give you a lift.

    Nope. Condoms are more often called a johnny than a rubber. A rubber johnny is the long form, but it sounds a bit daft.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2011
  21. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    It's shifted (since WWII and Hollywood) to mean that, but it originally meant to wake in time for work. In fact there were (semi?) professional "knocker-uppers" at one time: retired guys who would go down a street early in the morning knocking on doors and windows to ensure the occupant was awake and ready to leave for his/ her shift (and usually receive some beer money for the duty).

    If you read wartime memoirs this caused much confusion to US aircrew stationed in the UK when some old guy in the pub would nod at all the young women in the pub and explain to the Americans that he knew those women because he regularly knocked them up...
  22. drumbeat Registered Senior Member

    You learn something every day.
  23. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    A stroller and a pram are not quite the same thing. A stroller is a wheeled buggy-thing that a child sits in, whereas a pram is more for babies who are still lying down.

    Also, I'm not sure if "wrench" and "spanner" are synonymous either. As I understand it, both are used for tightening or undoing nuts and bolts. But a spanner has a symmetrical end surrounding the nut with the handle directly above/below the nut, whereas a wrench has an attachment that comes off one side of the handle to hold the nut. Wrenches are most often adjustable to different sizes, whereas spanners often aren't (except for "shifters", or shifting-spanners which have a little wheel thing in the head that allows you to alter the size).

    While Australian English is a lot closer to British than to US, the word "lorry" is practically never used in Australia. We have trucks, just like you. But we do tend to use torches rather than flashlights.

    As I understand it, a "pick-me-up" is a pill that you pop when you want to get a high - i.e. an "upper" rather than a "downer". In Australia, to "knock you up" would be to get you pregnant, and to be "knocked up" is to be pregnant. The term "pick you up" isn't used.

    Also means to arrest somebody in UK, as in "You're nicked, my son!" Also, "in the nick" can mean in jail/gaol.

    Most often used in Australia in expressions like "to earn a quid", which means to earn a living/make some money.

    In Australia (and I think in England, too), lawyers are all admitted to the Bar, which gives them their certificate to practice. But in practice, barristers are the lawyers who argue cases in court, while solicitors are the first port of call for clients seeking legal advice or redress, as well as legal services that don't involve going to court.

    We have trolleys in Australia, too - never shopping carts.


    Here are some more:

    We don't have "faucets"; they're "taps".

    The word "buoy", which Baywatch and Survivor teach us must be pronounced "BOO-EE", when all along we thought it was "BOY".

    There are no such things as bumpers, fenders and indicators on a car. There are bumper bars, mud guards and blinkers. And cars don't run on gas; they run on petrol. I won't give you a ride in my car, but I might give you a lift. When we get to the city, we'll park in the car park, not the parking lot.

    There are no cookies in Australia; we eat biscuits here. And there's no candy; we eat lollies. We also eat chips rather than fries (except at McDonald's, but that's your fault). And what Americans call potato chips, we do too, but the Brits call them crisps. We don't put ketchup on our fries; we put tomato sauce on our chips. And I won't even start on meat pies, pasties, pavola, sausage rolls, lamingtons...

    At university in Australia, you start in 1st year, then 2nd and 3rd year. We don't have freshmen, sophomores, juniors or seniors. And university is not school. School is where you go up to the age where you can get into a university.

    There is no trash in Australia, only rubbish or garbage. And no trash cans in Australia, only rubbish bins. We have letter boxes at our front gates, not mail boxes. Our houses are sited on blocks of land, not lots. We put our babies in nappies, not diapers.

    People have arses, not asses. An ass is a donkey. As for women's bits, only women have a fanny, and it's at the front, not the back.

    We barrack for a footy team, but don't usually root for it (which would involve having sex). And by "football" I either mean Aussie rules or rugby (depending on where I live in Australia), not that British round-ball soccer stuff or US gridiron. Ice hockey is virtually unheard of in Australia, so when we play hockey it's field hockey.

    When we want to pick up some bread and milk, we go to a milk bar or corner shop, but not usually to a convenience store and never to a drug store. We don't even get our drugs from a drug store; we get them at a chemist.

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