English vs American

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#1
malta
915 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
Obviously English started being spoken in America as a result of English settlers there and I often wonder how and why it developed so differently.
Why is their spelling different ?
In the UK we say bag (for hand bag) . When I first started on CC I couldn't understand why the Americans always referred to a purse. Then I realised that purse means handbag . There was a thread about pick pockets and it was really confusing at first.
#2
Seascale,Cumbria,U.K.
5,490 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
Hi, Hat!...my 2 worst ones are pants for trousers ("You should see what I keep in my pants pocket!")- overheard on NCL Jade at dinner, which left me gob smacked....and the words for a bum bag, which I find unpleasant....I have had lesser words "starred" out on here, so at first I thought some host was missing out this much ruder word..... then I checked in a dictionary, and it's down as taboo for UK only (don't know about Malta!).
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#3
Florida
2,440 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
Originally posted by hat776
Obviously English started being spoken in America as a result of English settlers there and I often wonder how and why it developed so differently.
Why is their spelling different ?
In the UK we say bag (for hand bag) . When I first started on CC I couldn't understand why the Americans always referred to a purse. Then I realised that purse means handbag . There was a thread about pick pockets and it was really confusing at first.

Lol. Some of us in America say, "bag" for handbag also. Personally, I use the word 'pocketbook'. To me, 'purse' means 'change purse'. I think it all depends on what part of America a person is from.

For example, I am from New Jersey, and we use the word 'soda' as a generic for Coke, Pepsi, Sprite and other carbonated soft drinks. But in parts of western Pennsylvania and other parts of midwestern United States, they use the word 'pop' (a shortened form of 'sodapop', I guess). But, until I moved to Florida, I'd never heard the word 'pop' used for 'soda'. I work in a restaurant, and at first, I thought people were asking (in a very colloquial manner) what kinds of Champagne we had.

Your post made me respond because I watch a fair amount of British tv programs (diff. spelling), and my friends sometimes do not understand some of the words and phrases used; but I do. Makes me laugh because I have been watching some of my favorite British television programs for 20 or 30 years (have all my favorites on DVD).
#4
malta
915 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
Originally posted by jocap
Hi, Hat!...my 2 worst ones are pants for trousers ("You should see what I keep in my pants pocket!")- overheard on NCL Jade at dinner, which left me gob smacked....and the words for a bum bag, which I find unpleasant....I have had lesser words "starred" out on here, so at first I thought some host was missing out this much ruder word..... then I checked in a dictionary, and it's down as taboo for UK only (don't know about Malta!).
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Here we use "English English" . Till a few years ago we used to do Oxford/London O and A levels.
Everyone speaks English but I imagine a word like the American version of bum bag would only be appreciated by the more well read. Same as for the pet word for a cat p***y.
What I can't understand is how things develop - why do we say 'lifts' and the Americans 'elevators' ?
#5
gosport uk,near portsmouth
1,504 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Having lived in an english speaking country,it takes a little while to get used to ie robots are traffic lights,its a lot to do with the diverse make up of the population
#6
Nottingham, UK
6,901 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
I was bestman at a wedding in America between a Brit and an American. Having to make a speech etc.. they bought me an English-American dictionary.

It's nearly 300 pages!!!

I've just randomly opened it at a page:

"Sports and Leisure"

Adverts = Commercials
American Football = Football
Cinema = Movie Theater
Cookery = Cooking
Draughts = Checkers
dress circle = Mezzanine
film = movie
football = soccer
fruit machine = slot machine
hockey = field hockey
ice hockey = hockey
side = team
stalls = orchestra (so what do they call an orchestra?)

and so on..
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#7
Seascale,Cumbria,U.K.
5,490 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
Bill Bryson has written an excellent book about this....for many years this native of Des Moines was a reporter on the Times, in London, and he's traced many differences to the early settlers....we say autumn, but used to say the fall of the year, for instance. A fascinating book, like most of his amusing books.
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#8
norwich uk
160 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
love this thread...been married to a Canadian for 25 years ( got used to him now bless him ) and we used to have some misunderstandings ! He still hates that I say aypricot and he pronounces it AP ricot..I mist admit I now use the North American way of saying oregano now..it just sounds better
#10
25,372 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
Trunk - Boot
Vacations - Holidays
Gas - Petrol/Diesel
Potato chips - Crisps

I caused some upset here a few years ago when I used a well known word in the UK used by Del Boy, when I called someone by that name which starts with pl
#11
Seascale,Cumbria,U.K.
5,490 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
Oh, yes....words like that...we've to be careful....
I'm on a dog forum, mainly from the US, and I said my dog had been a little s*d.....stunned silence from abroad....
A Scottish member said something about being knackered....same response....
Then some from the US use 4-letter words which I don't often use....
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#12
1,085 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
LOL, you say to-mah-to, I say to-mA-to! I'm half English, half American and have lived in both places. For two countries that are so similar in so many ways and basically speak the same language, there can still be a language barrier which can be quite comical at times!
#13
Redditch England
1,760 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
It’s not just us and the US is it. There are countries all over the globe that speak “English” but in a local variety. Of course you don’t have to go away from the Mother Country – Scots, Scousers (people from Liverpool) and Geordies (from Newcastle) can be unintelligible to those of us who live only a couple of hundred miles away.

The reason English is so common is firstly because of the British Empire (the sun never set…) and after that – its sheer adaptability. Our language incorporates without difficulty many words from many other languages to the extent that their origin is lost. Didn’t G Bush once say that the French have no word for entrepreneur?

India has 20 odd separate languages and hundreds of dialects. English is the second official language and it is quite surprising, that you will often find a group of Indians speaking English among themselves, because that is their only common language.

The question you could ask - is why it hasn't changed more?
#14
4 Posts
Joined Dec 2010
Originally posted by jocap
Hi, Hat!...my 2 worst ones are pants for trousers ("You should see what I keep in my pants pocket!")- overheard on NCL Jade at dinner, which left me gob smacked....and the words for a bum bag, which I find unpleasant....I have had lesser words "starred" out on here, so at first I thought some host was missing out this much ruder word..... then I checked in a dictionary, and it's down as taboo for UK only (don't know about Malta!).
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Haha that's absolutely awesome - I'm going to love this blog thread I think. I'm American but have been living in London for the past year, and I learned the hard way when I said something about keeping snacks and cookies in my fanny pack - haha for us it's just the bag that you attach around your waist, but I know see how horrible that sentance is to a British person!
#15
Isengard
413 Posts
Joined May 2009
My wife discovered the problem with the small travel pack, to her chagrin. And it took a few days to understand why so many British motorists were flashing me a two-fingered "peace sign" while I was trying to cope with my first roundabout! But let's not go into what I thought was being suggested when a friendly lad offered me cigarette while waiting for a bus....

Now, after a dozen holidays in your fair land, we can nearly pass as citizens. Until we try to shop in Abergavenny.

Cheers!
#16
Dundee Scotland
255 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
I heard on the news this week that there is now an interpreter available for tourists in Newcastle. Good idea for many parts of UK especially where people speak very quickly.
#17
Isengard
413 Posts
Joined May 2009
How soon can we expect the "Geordie-American" dictionary? (Did I spell that correctly?)
#18
Seascale,Cumbria,U.K.
5,490 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
Fascinating thing about the Geordie/Northumberland accent and vocabulary is that it's not related to any other language....despite being on the borders of Scotland/Cumbria/Durham.....it's quite alone and unique!
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#19
Eastern Spain
673 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
Are you sure? I worked for a Geordie company fo a number of years (loved it) and detected the root language of Geordie as Rubbish!
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#20
Lincolnshire
921 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
Originally posted by JennaGG
Haha that's absolutely awesome - I'm going to love this blog thread I think. I'm American but have been living in London for the past year, and I learned the hard way when I said something about keeping snacks and cookies in my fanny pack - haha for us it's just the bag that you attach around your waist, but I know see how horrible that sentance is to a British person!
I lived in the US for 6 months and my faves are "Suspenders" - used by Americans to hold up trousers i.e.Braces. Much prefer the UK use!!
Mufflers - US for exhaust pipes........durrrrr
And finally, I had a work mate who smoked, and when we visited San Fran, I had to tell him not to say that he was going outside for a FAG.
An why do Americans say they are going to the "bathroom" or "Restroom", when the neither want a bath or a rest????????? Oh well.
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