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Tuesday, 10 April 2012

British v. American English (3)

I have returned to what was one of the most popular subjects when I posted previously.
Some more British words and their US counterparts:
BESPOKE = CUSTOM Although we do use customised (not customized).
ANTI-CLOCKWISE = COUNTER-CLOCKWISE We don't have anything against clocks.
FRINGE = BANG A British client at a US Hairdresser might be surprised to be asked about their bangs. A bang is slang for sexual union. Oops!
BLUNT (of a knife) = DULL In the UK dull is only used to describe a personality or situation.
CODSWALLOP = BALONEY As in talking nonsense.
DO = SELL A Brit might ask, when shopping, "Do you do spare parts?"
No.(abbreviation for 'number') = #. Also HASH doesn't mean £ (that's the sign for pounds Sterling) It means MESS or SCREWED-UP.Wow, this is getting complicated (complex).
PINCH = STEAL But less serious. You might pinch a friend's newspaper but a bank-robber definitely steals.
AUBERGINE = EGGPLANT It's worth saying at this point that most US forms would be recognised (not recognized!) in the UK.
A LA MODE means 'fashionable' in the UK but means 'with ice-cream' in the US!
SCONE (if savoury) = BISCUIT
Actually the grammatical differences are quite deep between the uses of the English language in the US and the UK but it's the different words that are most interesting and more fun to discuss. Any examples you know would be welcome; there are thousands!


The Blogger Formerly Known As said...

We most certainly don’t use customised (or, at least, we shouldn’t) . . . The online Oxford English Dictionary only lists the word using ize, which is the way Chief Inspector Morse would have spelled it :)

bazza said...

Hi Maskie. How embarrassing. Here's me setting myself up as an authority only to be shot down! My Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (two dirty great volumes) actually gives both spellings as does my spell-checker but I have been spelling it with an 's' in blissful ignorance forever.

The Blogger Formerly Known As said...

I felt a bit bad being a pedant – hope you forgive me? It’s really only the legal profession and Inspector Morse devotees who use the ize spelling these days.

bazza said...

Maskie: Nothing to forgive! So 'ize' is the old-fashioned way then?

The Blogger Formerly Known As said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Blogger Formerly Known As said...

As far as I’m concerned ize is the definitive spelling. As you say, the hard copy of the OED do list the ise version, but only as alternative, and even then, only reluctantly (from what I gather).

The British mass media adopted ise (which is from the French spelling), and, as they hold a lot of sway, most people accept that as being correct. Just goes to show you can’t believe what you read in the papers.

It all goes to show how I spend my free time. Sad, I know :)

Cheerful Monk said...

How about the British "I'll knock you up"? Definitely more innocent than the American meaning. :)

klahanie said...

Hi bazza,
Actually, crisps = potato chips.
And of course, 'ofcourse',
nappie = diaper.
And kerb = curb.
And tyre = tire.
Remember, the examples you mention are also commonly used in Canada. In Canada, generally speaking, well the English speaking Canadian, spell 'colour' and 'neighbourhood' etc, the same way as we do in Britain.

Botanist said...

Moving from Britain to Canada, we've had to adapt, but it's doubly confusing because many words are the American version while spellings are often British, as Gary points out.

Petrol = Gas
Gas = Propane (if in tanks, if it's piped in then it's gas)
Zebra crossing = crosswalk
Junction = intersection
Skirting board = baseboard
Bedside table = nightstand name but a few :)

bazza said...

TBFKas: For me, it's an endlessly interesting subject. Thanks for your erudition (or is it eroodishun?)

bazza said...

Cheerful Monk: Hello and welcome. I think both meanings of being 'knocked up' will be recognised in the UK. However 'keep your pecker up' definitely means something different in the US than here!

bazza said...

Gary: Yes, of course/ofcourse you are right about potato chips.
I am aware of the Canadian situation having spent some time there but there are also different circumstances in Australia, South Africa and India etc. I have heard it said that the most 'correct' English is to be heard spoken in India.

bazza said...

Botanist: Well I learned/learnt a few new ones from you here! There are hundreds of others such as bumper = fender
boot = trunk
aeroplane = airplane
ketchup = catsup
and on and on....

David said...

Dear bazza,
I sometimes think that American spellings of things make more sense than the English ones (at least phonetically).
As for an example, how about pavement = sidewalk, which kind of doesn't really show my previous point. Oh well!
Very Best Wishes,

bazza said...

David: I know what you mean David even if your example didn't make the point!
I don't like nite for night though.
I also dislike words like missile being pronounced miss'l or route being pronounced as rout. Still, live and let live I suppose/guess.