The English language- Brits/Americans

  • davemancheste...

    Posts: 175

    Jul 19, 2011 12:03 PM GMT
    I love chatting to American guys either in the flesh or online because despite the fact we share a language there is so much scope, for amusing, misunderstanding.

    Example- an american lad mesaged me on RJ saying he has a fetish for British Rugby and Football lads and loved what I was wearing in my pics. I said a fetish for footie kit was really common over here and I often get lads wanting me to dress in my kit. He said "no I don't like the skirts I like guys in football shorts". It took me ages to get what he meant and that he had confused "kit" (sports uniform) for scottish "kilts" (scot national costume- a skirt). When I told my mates they were crying with laughter. As if sport is ever played in kits other than the highland games. Brilliant!

    I have a Canadian mate who pronounces buoy (the floats on the coast) as boo-oy) as opposed to boy like us Brits. It always makes me laugh.

    Do guys on here have any other examples?

    David
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    Jul 19, 2011 12:51 PM GMT
    As for buoy, in some parts of the States it's pronounced boo-ee. But your Brit pronunciation of our aluminum, adding a second i to produce an extra syllable, always amuses me. Or your schedule, for which you don't pronounce the c as we do, getting shedule.

    And of course automobiles provide many examples of complete word differences, our trunk = boot, hood = bonnet, transmission = gearbox, windshield = windscreen, and so forth. And where we say parts, you're more likely to say bits.

    But I'll have to think about misunderstandings this produces, at least in my case, since I lived and worked with British soldiers, where the meaning was always clear to me. So I don't get confused about the intention, just more words in my vocabulary, or a different pronunciation, as we sometimes have right here in the States.

    BTW, we know a native of your Manchester who owns a shop here in Fort Lauderdale that sells British goods, mostly foods. I love his sardines in tins (we would say in cans). Very nice fellow, as well as his Mum who often comes here from Manchester to visit and help in the store, especially around Christmas. But the way he pronounces Maahn-chester always makes us smile. Here's Rob in a video, along with brief shots of his Mum. Accent sound familiar?

    http://www.pondhoppers.net/
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    Jul 19, 2011 12:57 PM GMT
    Art_Deco saidBut your Brit pronunciation of our aluminum, adding a second i to produce an extra syllable, always amuses me.


    OK we're going to have an argument now - it's not the pronunciation of the word, it's the way it's spelt - ALUMINIUM - like plenty of other elements. It doesn't make sense to take the 'i' out of it, otherwise you'd have:

    SODUM
    HELUM
    LITHUM
    MAGNESUM
    POTASSUM

    Instead of

    SODIUM
    HELIUM
    LITHIUM
    MAGNESIUM
    POTASSIUM

    Now do you see how wrong ALUMINUM is to us non-crazy folk? It's just plain wrong and it bugs the hell out of me!!!!
  • Hokenshi

    Posts: 387

    Jul 19, 2011 1:01 PM GMT
    I dated an American and he was pretty spot on when it came to British English, the one I remember which confused him most was a time expression:
    "I'll meet you at half 2"
    "When?"
    "half 2."
    "...is that 1 o'clock?"
    "No, 2.30"
    "but half of 2 is 1!"

    I have to teach a lot of American English and I'm fine with it most of the time, although I can't stand it when Americans say "could care less" when what they actually mean is "couldn't care less".
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    Jul 19, 2011 1:05 PM GMT
    Half 2 is not correct though? We say half past 2, or just 2.30 pm
    I do agree with the 'Could (not) care less.' lol. Also the word irregardless.. Really now?

    Also why do Americans drop most 'u's' is beyond me?
    Neighbour
    Colour
    Odour
    Flavour
    Humour

    No entiendo :S
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    Jul 19, 2011 1:09 PM GMT
    Brits & Cdns "post a letter" ; Americans "mail a letter.

    Brits use Royal Mail; Canadians use Canada Post; Americans use U.S. Mail


    Brit only: "It came in the post"; Cdns & US: "It came in the mail."

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    Jul 19, 2011 1:10 PM GMT
    Lux_ saidAlso the word irregardless.. Really now?


    I believe that word is a blend of irrespective and regardless.

    I don't understand the time thing - half 2 = 2.30, seems pretty clear. What do you say?

    Also, I don't know what 'quarter of 2' means - is that 2.15 or 1.45? We'd say 'quarter past 2' (2.15) or 'quarter to 2' (1.45). Very clear, surely?
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    Jul 19, 2011 1:10 PM GMT
    Upper_Canadian saidBrits & Cdns "post a letter" ; Americans "mail a letter.

    Brit only: "It came in the post"; Cdns & US: "It came in the mail."



    Oh the other one like that that makes me laugh is talking about 'drawing' a bath. To me, that's getting a piece of paper and drawing a picture of a bath!

    We call it 'running' a bath. Because you run the water into the bath, duh!
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    Jul 19, 2011 1:11 PM GMT
    I find the "half-seven" thing confusing. Is that 6:30 or 7:30?

    icon_confused.gif
  • davemancheste...

    Posts: 175

    Jul 19, 2011 1:15 PM GMT
    Ha, ha. I've never realised that about the time. Of course, we mean- half an hour after 2 oclock. Thus- 2.30.

    Pondhoppers looks great. Though he doesn't have a particularly Mancunion accent (which is very obvious to a Brit).

    Pissed it always a source of confusion.
    UK - drunk
    US- annoyed

    On the subject of accents. I met a guy from Baltimore over here in Manchester just at the time That The Wire was on TV here and was being promoted. Of course, it features loads of British actors paying Americans and one actor had described how they imitated a Baltimore accent- "try talking like an american with a west country (Cornwall/Devon) accent".

    I tried this with the guy from Baltimore and he was blown away that I could do a Baltimore accent. He just couldn't believe it. Lol.

    Great stuff.
    D
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    Jul 19, 2011 1:15 PM GMT
    Fanny in US = backside

    Fanny in UK = a lady's front bottom

    That one always cracks me up.

    'Popping out for a fag' means something very different between the two as well.
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    Jul 19, 2011 1:16 PM GMT
    articles of clothing offer a huge array:

    wooly pully - a sweater

    anorak - windbreaker or parka.
    sneakers - trainers

    i think cdn English has a few unique things
    tuque - knitted cap
    balaclava - ski mask


    and of course:

    inukshuk - pile of rocks

    icon_lol.gif



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    Jul 19, 2011 1:17 PM GMT
    Upper_Canadian saidI find the "half-seven" thing confusing. Is that 6:30 or 7:30?

    icon_confused.gif


    LOL! I never thought it would be confusing. It's just a short-hand for 'half past 7' you just don't say the 'past' because it's not needed.

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    Jul 19, 2011 1:18 PM GMT
    The differences in the spelling and pronunciation are often amusing, but they are quite superficial. Languages are maps of thought, and it often strikes me [as a UK citizen living in America] how incompatible our use of the same words are.

    I'm reminded of the line in Brian Friel's superb play Translations

    I am a stranger in a land where I am not understood.

    but now that my thinking has been deformed to that of an American, I find this to be true on both sides of the Atlantic.
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    Jul 19, 2011 1:19 PM GMT
    Pure saidOK we're going to have an argument now - it's not the pronunciation of the word, it's the way it's spelt - ALUMINIUM - like plenty of other elements. It doesn't make sense to take the 'i' out of it, otherwise you'd have:

    SODUM (etc)

    Instead of

    SODIUM (etc)

    Now do you see how wrong ALUMINUM is to us non-crazy folk? It's just plain wrong and it bugs the hell out of me!!!!

    Unfortunately for your argument, there are also the elements without that i, like platinum and molybdenum. And I've seen some Periodic Tables that give both spellings for aluminium, and some tables that have only aluminum.

    The more important thing is that in a thread discussing differences, this is indeed a difference. And aluminium sounds odd to our American ears (my auto spellchecker is telling me I misspelled it), as no doubt aluminum does to yours. Telling us Yanks that you are right and we are "crazy" is hardly in the spirit of the thread, wouldn't you agree?
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    Jul 19, 2011 1:19 PM GMT
    Pure said
    Upper_Canadian saidI find the "half-seven" thing confusing. Is that 6:30 or 7:30?

    icon_confused.gif


    LOL! I never thought it would be confusing. It's just a short-hand for 'half past 7' you just don't say the 'past' because it's not needed.



    It really is needed [at least if you're not anglocentric]. In German, um Halb-sieben is literally at Half-TO-seven.
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    Jul 19, 2011 1:20 PM GMT
    Pure said
    I don't understand the time thing - half 2 = 2.30, seems pretty clear. What do you say?

    Also, I don't know what 'quarter of 2' means - is that 2.15 or 1.45? We'd say 'quarter past 2' (2.15) or 'quarter to 2' (1.45). Very clear, surely?


    Half 2 comes to me as 1.30, cause it is half 2 lol xD. In Dutch it does mean 1.30. However in Turkish it means 2.30. In French you also say 2 heures et demie, which means 2.30, so it depends on the language.
    When I want to say 2.30 in English I say half past 2 (o'clock).
    Never heard of 'quarter of' though. We always say
    quarter to= xx:45, or
    quarter past= xx:15

    My teacher always corrected me when I said half 2 to point out 2.30 o'clock. She would tell me it is a transliteration and thus not correct.

    All of these slight differences can really mess with your head
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    Jul 19, 2011 1:20 PM GMT
    Lux_ saidHalf 2 is not correct though? We say half past 2, or just 2.30 pm
    I do agree with the 'Could (not) care less.' lol. Also the word irregardless.. Really now?

    Also why do Americans drop most 'u's' is beyond me?
    Neighbour
    Colour
    Odour
    Flavour
    Humour

    No entiendo :S


    Noah Webster decided we would drop the U in those words.

  • davemancheste...

    Posts: 175

    Jul 19, 2011 1:22 PM GMT
    It would be a very old or old fashionbe brit to say "drawing a bath". I run a bath.

    It is very common to say half eight (8.30) rather than half past eight (which is still very British).

    Post is more common in the uk because the post office/royal mail traces it's origin back to the 16th c under Henry the Eight and the role of "master of the king's post".
    D
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    Jul 19, 2011 1:23 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    Pure saidOK we're going to have an argument now - it's not the pronunciation of the word, it's the way it's spelt - ALUMINIUM - like plenty of other elements. It doesn't make sense to take the 'i' out of it, otherwise you'd have:

    SODUM (etc)

    Instead of

    SODIUM (etc)

    Now do you see how wrong ALUMINUM is to us non-crazy folk? It's just plain wrong and it bugs the hell out of me!!!!

    Unfortunately for your argument, there are also the elements without that i, like platinum and molybdenum. And I've seen some Periodic Tables that give both spellings for aluminium, and some tables that have only aluminum.

    The more important thing is that in a thread discussing differences, this is indeed a difference. And aluminium sounds odd to our American ears (my auto spellchecker is telling me I misspelled it), as no doubt aluminum does to yours. Telling us Yanks that you are right and we are "crazy" is hardly in the spirit of the thread, wouldn't you agree?


    It shouldn't be that odd. Aluminium was used as a spelling by American chemists for the better part of the 19th century.

    To those of us that were classically educated, the suffix -ium is more in tune with the Latin language.
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    Jul 19, 2011 1:23 PM GMT
    Art_Deco saidUnfortunately for your argument, there are also the elements without that i, like platinum and molybdenum.


    Good point well made, however:

    "The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) adopted aluminium as the standard international name for the element in 1990 but, three years later, recognized aluminum as an acceptable variant. Hence their periodic table includes both.[56] IUPAC prefers the use of aluminium in its internal publications, although nearly as many IUPAC publications use the spelling aluminum.[57]

    Most countries use the spelling aluminium."

    Therefore ALUMINIUM is the more widely-accepted 'correct' spelling/pronunciation.

    And I'm only saying you're crazy because it drives me crazy, it's like people saying 'supposably' or 'what, pacifically, are you getting at'? Just wrong.
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    Jul 19, 2011 1:25 PM GMT
    TigerTim saidThe differences in the spelling and pronunciation are often amusing, but they are quite superficial. Languages are maps of thought, and it often strikes me [as a UK citizen living in America] how incompatible our use of the same words are.

    I'm reminded of the line in Brian Friel's superb play Translations

    I am a stranger in a land where I am not understood.

    but now that my thinking has been deformed to that of an American, I find this to be true on both sides of the Atlantic.



    I have noted a similar "deformity" (or rather "alteration" in me and my brother (who moved to Europe) compared to my sister (who always remained in Canada) and I wonder as to its permanence. Is that change set?
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    Jul 19, 2011 1:25 PM GMT
    I actually give my students a quiz on stuff like this before I send them over to the UK to study abroad.... specifically because all of them (and I do mean ALL of them) chose to study in the UK because "there was no language barrier." All I can think is "Wait 'til you get to Scotland..."
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    Jul 19, 2011 1:26 PM GMT
    I recently found out that the US 'eggplant' is an 'aubergine' in the UK. I was reading some recipes a few months ago and stumbled upon that on a British website. Of course I had to look up what an aubergine was, so that was new!

    I think it's impressive how there are so many different accents in the UK for a country that's quite a bit smaller than the US. It's like every major city and town have their own accent like Italian in Italy, hehe. Although I often wonder how our British pals think of the different accents in the US, especially the more distinct ones of the East Coast like New York, Boston, Baltimore, Appalachia, most of the South, etc.

    On a related note, I have plenty of amusing situations with Spanish speakers on here. Although it gets annoying that a number of simple and common words used in Spain are considered offensive and downright rude in most of Latin America.
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    Jul 19, 2011 1:27 PM GMT
    My ex was a nice brit who i could just listen to him talk all day long. In the first few months dating, i was like "come again" all the time. He says you americans pronounce certain english words differently like water. Americans pronounce water like wader and the british prounce emphasing the "T" in water. But it was a wonderful experience nonetheless and has taught me to listen closely as well as never be afraid to ask and repeat lol..