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British v American English
PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 8:13 am Reply with quote
bnt
 
Joined: 13 Jul 2006
Posts: 19


Hi there! I know this is a huge topic, and I just wanted to make my first post here on a topic I'm interested in. There are two good places to look for more info for starters:

Wikipedia- a semi-academic treatment;
The Best of British - site linked to a book on the topic;

There are a few that we Brits get mildly miffed* at, such as Aluminum vs. Aluminium, and the use of "football" to describe the American game that has more in common with Rugby. Then there's the apocryphal tale of the English visitor to San Francisco, who was arrested after going outside to "smoke a fag"..! Shocked

Does anyone else have a favourite Trans-Atlanticism?

Quote:
We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.
- Oscar Wilde, The Canterville Ghost
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 11:20 am Reply with quote
Ren
 
Joined: 23 Jun 2006
Posts: 36
Location: Kiel, Germany


When I think about BE vs. AE there are two things that come to my mind:

1. My British neighbour complaining that I like to use "trash" rather than "waste" (which IMO is a really really stupid word).

2. One of the Beatles (John Lennon, I guess) telling that Americans didn't understand one particular line of the song "I'm so tired" on the White Album:

"And curse Sir Walter Raleigh, he was such a stupid git"

He said many Americans thought it was a misprint and it's "...stupid get" instead, which didn't make any sense of course.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 1:38 pm Reply with quote
iuchiban
 
Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 30
Location: Greeley, CO


The "boot" of the car...man that totally confused me the frist time I read it in a book.

There is a great song by the English Hip Hop/Electronica group The Streets about this called Two Nations


Two nations divided
By a common language
And about two hundred years of new songs and dancing
But the difference is language
And just the bits you got wrong
'Cause we were the ones who invented the language

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 1:50 pm Reply with quote
grimace
 
Joined: 11 Jul 2006
Posts: 8
Location: London, UK


Quote:
One of the Beatles (John Lennon, I guess) telling that Americans didn't understand one particular line of the song "I'm so tired" on the White Album:

"And curse Sir Walter Raleigh, he was such a stupid git"

He said many Americans thought it was a misprint and it's "...stupid get" instead, which didn't make any sense of course.


I smell an urban legend. Actually, 'get' is perfectly good Scouse (& Northern English generally) for 'git'. Since the previous line is 'I'm so tired, I'll light another cigarette', 'get' is a good rhyme too.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 2:15 pm Reply with quote
grimace
 
Joined: 11 Jul 2006
Posts: 8
Location: London, UK


Speaking of get...

One interesting bit of transatlantic shift I've noticed is the growing use of the past participle 'gotten' over here - especially among teenagers.

Of course, it was a perfectly good Brit English word back in the 18th century, but when I was growing up it was one of those strange alien Americanisms which you read in books and just seem wrong...

But I wonder if it's here to stay - does it fulfill a linguistic need?
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 3:53 pm Reply with quote
bnt
 
Joined: 13 Jul 2006
Posts: 19


grimace wrote:
One interesting bit of transatlantic shift I've noticed is the growing use of the past participle 'gotten' over here - especially among teenagers.

It does have some historic usage, e.g. in Shakespeare's Henry VI Part III, Warwick asks:
Quote:
Oxford, how haps it, in this smooth discourse,
You told not how Henry the Sixth hath lost
All that which Henry the Fifth had gotten?
Methinks these peers of France should smile at that.

To say nothing of all his Misbegotten characters, and their Ill-gotten gains..!
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 4:09 pm Reply with quote
pandaballs
 
Joined: 11 Jul 2006
Posts: 5
Location: London, UK


why do americans say 'ass' instead of 'arse?'
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 4:34 pm Reply with quote
Dave
 
Joined: 08 Jun 2006
Posts: 357
Location: Washington, DC


Why do Brits say "arse" and not "ass"? Very Happy

Just one of those things. "Arse" always sounds weird to us. I think the OED talks also about a conflation of the words for "donkey" and "backside" somewhere along the way.

In German, to call someone an "Esel" (=donkey, ass) is a rather strong insult.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 4:59 pm Reply with quote
Ren
 
Joined: 23 Jun 2006
Posts: 36
Location: Kiel, Germany


Dave wrote:
In German, to call someone an "Esel" (=donkey, ass) is a rather strong insult.


I wouldn't agree on that. It depends on the sitution and calling a policeman a "Esel" will get you in trouble, but other than that it's a rather mild insult. I doubt that many people would feel insulted if you call them like that.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 6:06 pm Reply with quote
Ren
 
Joined: 23 Jun 2006
Posts: 36
Location: Kiel, Germany


grimace wrote:
I smell an urban legend. Actually, 'get' is perfectly good Scouse (& Northern English generally) for 'git'. Since the previous line is 'I'm so tired, I'll light another cigarette', 'get' is a good rhyme too.


I'm almost 100% sure I heard John Lennon say that in the Beatles Anthology documentary. Too bad I haven't got it here.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 8:28 pm Reply with quote
Megamatt
 
Joined: 25 Jun 2006
Posts: 21
Location: Charlotte, NC


Dave wrote:
Why do Brits say "arse" and not "ass"? Very Happy



In German, to call someone an "Esel" (=donkey, ass) is a rather strong insult.




I remember my Father yelling that on the road, growing up in Germany. I honestly had no idea what it meant until now, haha! Thanks, Dave!

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 11:29 pm Reply with quote
Dave
 
Joined: 08 Jun 2006
Posts: 357
Location: Washington, DC


Ren? wrote:
Dave wrote:
In German, to call someone an "Esel" (=donkey, ass) is a rather strong insult.


I wouldn't agree on that. It depends on the sitution and calling a policeman a "Esel" will get you in trouble, but other than that it's a rather mild insult. I doubt that many people would feel insulted if you call them like that.

Okay, maybe I shouldn't have said a "strong" insult nowadays (I think it used to be stronger), but it definitely is a significant put-down to call somebody an Esel, oder?

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two more...
PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 11:14 pm Reply with quote
Lachia
 
Joined: 18 Jul 2006
Posts: 3
Location: Blacksburg, VA


Not to get too dirty...but there's a lovely urban legend making its way around again about the poor Brittish student who raised his hand in high school to ask his teacher for a "rubber" ... very different meaning over in the states.
(Please feel free to erase this if I've stepped over the line)

My other favorite is reckon. Those of us who have grown up in the southern US know that word very well, but I think there might be a slight usage difference between us and the English...am I correct? I know that often when one uses to the word in the states one might be perceived as being less cultured or educated whereas in GB that's not at all the case. At least, that's how it was relayed to me by my English grandfather.

Would love to hear more about this.
-Lachia

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 2:31 pm Reply with quote
grimace
 
Joined: 11 Jul 2006
Posts: 8
Location: London, UK


'Reckon' definitely has an American twang to it, although it is increasingly catching on (again) over here to mean 'think/feel'. 'What do you reckon about...?' is a fairly common Brit English phrase, mind you.

Similar is 'I guess' to mean 'In my opinion' or 'I suppose', which is becoming slightly more common over here. I like it a lot myself and use it far too often.

Incidentally, when I was growing up (in East Anglia) and someone told a tall tale in the playground, the response from sceptical children was 'Reck-on!' or, even weirder, 'Chinny reck-on!'. Then I moved to another part of the country (South London) and the equivalent interjection was 'Itchy!' or 'Itchy beard!'. What is the equivalent in the States, I wonder?
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 26, 2006 4:29 am Reply with quote
benconservato
 
Joined: 25 Aug 2006
Posts: 14
Location: France


No I have the impression that reckon is classed as someone less educated, even in Australia where you hear it very frequently.

I am not sure if I heard this one mentioned before on a podcast, but the "bum-bag" Vs "fanny-bag" ... don't go calling it your fanny-bag in the wilds of Australia... Although I think we are getting used to this one.
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British v American English
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