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English vs American

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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.

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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!).

Jo.

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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).

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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!).

Jo.

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' ?

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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 :):):)

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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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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.

Jo.

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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 :)

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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 :o

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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....:eek:

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....

Jo.

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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!

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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?

Edited by Bob++

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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!).

Jo.

 

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!

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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....:eek:

 

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

 

Cheers!

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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.

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How soon can we expect the "Geordie-American" dictionary? (Did I spell that correctly?)

Edited by Saruman

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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!

Jo.

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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!:D

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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!

 

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. :D

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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. :D

Or have a back yard which measures an acre.

Now, I REALLY have a back yard!!!:(

Jo.

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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.

 

England and America, two countries separated by a common language.

 

By the way, Americans don't speak English, we speak Americanish. :)

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Or have a back yard which measures an acre.

Now, I REALLY have a back yard!!!:(

Jo.

In Malta a yard means a small paved area with maybe a couple of flower beds. In films and books there are many mentions of the famous back yard. The first time I saw an actual back yard and realised they meant garden is still in my mind.

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You lot are so lucky only having to learn 2 versions of English :) . I live and work in the French speaking part of Switzerland. The official language in the office is English (spoken 100 different ways by 65 different nationalities). However, it's not UK English, we have to use US English. On top of that Swiss French is not quite the same French French for a lot of things, especially the high nubmers.

 

Include into that the fact we also use German (Swiss German so completely different to German German), and Italian it gets rather confusing.

 

Thankfully, most local people speak English, including the guy who fills my car up with diesel every week at the local garage.

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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!:D

 

Quite a few "Geordie" or Northumbrian dialect words are derived from Danish .... maybe from the Vikings! By the way, a "Geordie" has to be born within spitting distance of the Tyne. Coming from north of Newcastle originally I am, therefore, a Northumbrian, not a "Geordie". My late mother was very specific about this and often used to ring the local radio station to complain about being called a "Geordie", although she was a very proud Northumbrian.

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The Northumbrian "R" is special to the region...almost French in sound. I hope it never dies out.

Hat- yes, my yard is about a yard square....that's how it got its name....but now it's become acceptable as a word for a garden.

Jo.

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An why do Americans say they are going to the "bathroom" or "Restroom", when the neither want a bath or a rest????????? Oh well. :D

 

Well I think it sounds better then saying "Toiletroom" lol.

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Geordie, Northumbrian, Dane, whatever. Glorious part of the country to be from, regardless!:D

 

Totally agree! Beaches and countryside are wonderful, just a shame about the weather, though.

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I was always amazed to see the young girls heading out to the Quayside for a night of mayhem and revelry dressed only in a curtain pelmet in the depth of midwinter. I believe it was a great place to be a student!

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Or have a back yard which measures an acre.

Now, I REALLY have a back yard!!!:(

Jo.

I also have a front yard....

Jo.

PICT1673.jpg.002bd48094b706b7691481115d0506fd.jpg

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Curtain pelmet. :confused: Had to google that!

 

Reminds me of my first visit to Edinburgh in May. I was still wearing my turtleneck sweater, sitting in the park waiting for an afternoon train. The citizens were out sunning themselves at lunch time. I watched a gent in a business suit remove and fold his jacket and tie, then his waistcoat (notice I didn't say 'vest') and then his white shirt. He pillowed these items and lay down in the sun. Not something I'd ever seen in the colonies. Sorry I missed the girls in the curtain pelmets.:rolleyes:

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I was always amazed to see the young girls heading out to the Quayside for a night of mayhem and revelry dressed only in a curtain pelmet in the depth of midwinter. I believe it was a great place to be a student!

 

Its not just on the Quayside, either. It happens in the other towns in the North. Out in skimpy tops in the snow! It makes me shiver just to think about it. I believe it is because they can't be bothered to "check in" coats in the pubs/clubs or have a coat stolen. I must be a soft southerner now, need to be wrapped up well in the cold weather. Or maybe with age, we grow wiser ;).

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In another lifetime, I sailed with a Geordie Bosun. For nearly 6 months I was convinced he was Russian, never understood a b&**#y word he said!!

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England and America, two countries separated by a common language.

By the way, Americans don't speak English, we speak Americanish. :)

 

;) Here in the states we have some big differences in the language we use. A New Englander has difficulties in the deep south, and visa versa. Out west we slip in some spanish now and then just to keep those easterners guessing. Then we have Canadians coming down for the winter months along with folks from our northern states, and that adds to all the fun. I went aboard an English corvette once and could not understand a word the Officer of the deck spoke, but his BoatswainsMate was perfectly understandable. Yes, our common language is a wonderful and sometimes confusing thing well worth talking about:D

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What's so fascinating is that English was taken to the US and Australia by emigrants from England so why did the language develop so differently.

Is the Spanish spoken on the West Coast similarly different to the Spanish spoken in S. America and in Spain ?

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What's so fascinating is that English was taken to the US and Australia by emigrants from England so why did the language develop so differently.

Is the Spanish spoken on the West Coast similarly different to the Spanish spoken in S. America and in Spain ?

 

SI! The Spanish spoken in northern Mexico is different than the Spanish spoken in southern Mexico. Then when you go from country to country in the rest of the Americas, it gets more and more different. I've seen a Spanish-English dictionary that takes into account all of the various Spanish speaking countries in the world - it's very large. Let's face it, until after World War II (and especially since the internet age), the peoples of the world were pretty insulated from those not too far away from their home...and language would not have the cross-polination that it has now.

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In most cases I find the British terms preferable, but the one I hate seeing on this site is, "Gutted." I get such a visceral image with that term that I find it off-putting.

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SI! The Spanish spoken in northern Mexico is different than the Spanish spoken in southern Mexico. Then when you go from country to country in the rest of the Americas, it gets more and more different. I've seen a Spanish-English dictionary that takes into account all of the various Spanish speaking countries in the world - it's very large. Let's face it, until after World War II (and especially since the internet age), the peoples of the world were pretty insulated from those not too far away from their home...and language would not have the cross-polination that it has now.

 

Very interesting thread. Thanks OP for starting it.

 

I think the distance makes all the difference in the way languages develop and diverge. European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese are very different, more so in my opinion (as a language professional working with both) than UK English and US English.

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