Funstuff and Inspiration > Two countries, divided by a common langauge

Discussion in 'Funstuff and Inspiration' started by cornutt, Jul 13, 2017.

  1. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Some things where Americans and British have different words for the same thing:

    Trunk (of a car).......Boot
    Hood (of a car).......Bonnet
    Ground (electrical)....Earth
    Afterburner (airplane)....Reheat
    French fries.........Chips

    What else?
  2. raindance

    raindance Well-Known Member

    Fun list. These two are different critters, though. Google porcupine vs hedgehog if you are curious about details. You are much more likely to need a nurse :nurse: if you run into a porcupine. :D
  3. flying_backwards

    flying_backwards Active Member

    Rain boots....Wellies
    cornutt likes this.
  4. SwingingAlong

    SwingingAlong Well-Known Member

    I'm not too sure as NZ English is a bit different again but:
    Candy..... lollies
    Counter top..... bench
    Rain boots....... Gummies
    Apartment...........Flat - we use both. Apartment usually more than one level, flat, well, flat. One level.
    Portable ice box.................chilly bin
    night clothes.........pjs, jammies

    this will be a really interesting thread:)
  5. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    In Basingstoke we wanted to walk from our hotel to the town center, so the receptionist drew us a map. To go across a traffic circle, she instructed us to take the two subways. Now why would we have to take a subway to cross a traffic circle, let along two? And why didn't she call it the underground or tube? I made a guess and discovered that I had guessed correctly: they were pedestrian tunnels.

    So then:
    pedestrian tunnel .... subway

    Adding to yours:
    French fries.........Chips
    Chips ........ Crisps

    And there are some off-color ones as well which are covered on YouTube. For example, their word for the breakage of wind is supposed to be "trump". A forum admin who hailed from the UK once got extremely upset with me for using a common US military term for the shortest most direct telling of what's actually going on. "Knackered" means exhausted or damaged severely, but as a noun it's supposed to be an anatomical term. And a "fanny pack" would have entirely different connotations -- similarly, Germany is supposed to have a single-strap back pack called a "Bodybag."

    A girl in my college German classes had lived in England and one day she was telling us the British names for such things as certain shoes and other articles of clothing as well as their word for bangs. Sorry, I don't remember any of it.

    Trash can .... dust bin

    Another issue for Americans in the UK. When I checked into our hotel in Southampton, I was told my room was on the first floor and was pointed in the direction to go. I got to the elevators (lifts) and there were no hallways to go to any rooms, just the bell room, the stairway, and an exit. That's when I learned that the UK uses the Continent's floor numbering conventions where the ground floor ("G" or 0) is not the first floor, but rather one story up is -- looking up at the lift's floor indicator also helped clear that up. That is also where I first encountered lifts that require you to use your room key card to operate them -- good idea, security-wise.

    Another mystery quickly solved. Signs in caf├ęs and restaurants advertising "half English" and "full English". They were referring to breakfast.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2017
  6. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    I got warned once about the use of "fanny" if I ever went to the UK. (For us Americans: Fanny = rear end. In the UK: Fanny = um, the opposite side, specifically that of a woman. :eek:)

    Aluminum....... aluminium. Pronounced differently.
    Plexiglass......... Perspex.
  7. SwingingAlong

    SwingingAlong Well-Known Member

    flip flops....jandals?
  8. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Cooktop....... hob
  9. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    Baby stroller ... Pram.

    I first encountered that one on Monty Python and it made no sense at the time. But think of that line in "Scent of a Woman" where the colonel says, "Let us perambulate". Means "walk around" ("peri" = around as in "perimeter" and "ambulate" means walk as in being "ambulatory", a patient or casualty who is still able to walk). Or "stroll", which is walking about. So a stroller is a "peramulator", which is then shortened to "pram." Same thing, actually, just by different linguistical routes.

    Pedestrian crossing ... zebra crossing (because of the alternating white stripes and black asphalt -- for a visual refer to your album cover of Abbey Road where Paul is barefoot).

    At the zebra crossings at Heathrow, I noticed the words painted on the asphalt (from memory) "Look right", because that's where the car (I'm sure they have another word for that) that's about to hit you is coming from (or from whence it is proceeding). When Samuel L. Jackson was on Graham Norton, he pondered how many Americans get run over on their very first day in the UK. I always look both ways as I was taught in elementary school more than half a century ago (So.Calif.).

    One of my first experiences in the UK was walking rapidly through the maze of tunnels connecting one terminal at Heathrow to the next. The signage was rather good, so I always knew which way to go. But I'd be walking down the right side of the tunnel and here come people head-on towards me on my side. Right! I need to be on the left side; this is the UK after all! Then there'd be people coming head-on towards me on my left side, their right side. Damned foreigners! {grin}
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017
  10. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Vacuum tube...... valve

    I remember, some years ago, in the early days of the Internet, reading about a guy in NJ, who was originally from London, rebuilding an antique radio. In the writeup, he mentioned having to replace the valves. I thought, "it runs on water?"
  11. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    That's right, valves, because they use the grid voltage to change the rate of electron flow from the cathode to the anode, kind of like a water valve does to water. We name them by how they are constructed while the British name them for what they do.

    Radio .... wireless

    Though that one confused me as a child because I was sure that there were wires inside it. However, "radio" has made its way into the language, since The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (c. 1980) was a radio play, not a "wireless play". And I'm sure there are other examples of "radio" being used.

    One word: Pudding.

    To the British it seems to have two meanings: what Americans call pudding and then something completely different, various kinds of meat sausages. There was a flash-back scene (kind of funny term to use in a time travel show) when Claire as a WWII nurse was explaining to some American GIs about white pudding and black pudding and one of them asks her what they call American pudding, to which she replies, "Pudding."

    Black pudding and white pudding are kinds of sausages containing pork meat and fat, suet, bread, and oatmeal, plus pork blood for black pudding. Haggis is considered a pudding, indeed "Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!" according to Robert Burns.

    Pudding Lane, the site of the start of the Great Fire of London in 1666, was named for the animal entrails that would fall off the carts as they were being transported from the butchers to the waste barges.

    Wikipedia gets into it more at . Apparently the origin of the word referred to meat in casings, so the real mystery for me is how it became associated with desserts.
  12. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    Waiting line ... queue

    I watched a British TV show, "Very British Problems", on Netflix (it's still there). At one point they talk about queues and how very important they are to the British, almost sacred. One must never jump a queue in the UK for fear of being tutted.

    Then on the motorway I noticed signs warning of queues ahead. So:

    traffic jam ... queue
  13. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    There are also some British words that are just plain slang, not necessarily a different version used exclusively.

    For example, there's "gob" meaning "mouth", but I'm sure that "mouth" is used far more. I had heard some expressions using it -- eg, "gobsmacked", and the 11th Doctor mentioned a "gobby girl" he kept trying to get to Heathrow (that was Australian flight attendant Tegan Jovanka, picked up by the 4th Doctor just before he regenerated and constantly mouthed off at the 5th Doctor that she didn't want to be there (the actress described her character as a "mouth with legs") but she ended up being one of the companions with the longest tenure -- actually, one time the Doctor did get her to Heathrow, but in 1666, and their adventure ended up in a bakery on Pudding Lane where the the Great Fire of London started, which is how I learned about Pudding Lane). I finally learned what it meant in a short-lived Christopher Guest HBO series spoofing genealogy, "Family Tree", in which his grandfather was in theatre as part of a pantomime horse act. Somebody explains the two parts of the pantomime horse act as being the "tail end" and the "gob end." His grandfather played the tail end. Many men's gravestones would include a symbolic representation of the tools of their trade. His grandfather's gravestone had the tail end of a pantomime horse, which made it look like he was a horse's behind, though everybody played it very straight.

    But ultimately that "gob end" reference did finally clue me in on what "gob" meant, after which everything else fell into place. So then somebody who's "gobby" is mouthy, they talk and/or complain a lot. And being "gobsmacked" means that you're in a state of shock as if somebody just struck you in the face or mouth.
    cornutt likes this.
  14. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    The same phenomenon also occurs between different regions in the USA. The words for carbonated soft drinks for example. And that in places back east they refer to sauces as "gravy".

    I was born and raised and live in Southern California, but my mother was from Illinois. We grew up knowing the trunk of a car (the "boot" in the UK) as the "turtleback". And the washing machine and dryer, etc, were in the "service porch" (what some regions refer to as the "mud porch", since it was always outside). And something on the diagonal of an intersection from you (ie, 45 degrees such that you have to cross two streets to get there) was "kitty-corner" -- I believe the proper dictionary form is "cater-corner").

    My father was born in eastern Kansas, but his family moved constantly throughout the Mid-West. When he was 8, they had moved to northern Texas. One day, his mother gave him a shopping list and sent him to the local store. The girl (she was 18, but in his youthful eyes she was an old woman) asked him, "What's your'n?", meaning "what do you want?". Misunderstanding her question ("your'n" sounds like "urine", after all), he responded and got chased out of the shop. A passer-by saw my young father's distress and explained the situation to him. So the 8-year-old kid went back into the shop and simply gave her the shopping list, which she filled. As he was trying to gather everything in his arms, she asked him if he wanted a poke. "No," he must have thought. "I've already suffered enough. Please don't poke me!" But she insisted that he needed a poke, so from behind the counter she took a bag, maybe paper, and put his items inside it. Regionally, a poke was a bag to place merchandise into. Which also explains for many of us the "pig in a poke" expression.
  15. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    The word "alum." and the difference in spelling, is due to an error in typing by the individual ,who sent the message to the States about it's discovery ( or it was mis read ) .
  16. datitmarsh

    datitmarsh Member

    Garbage = rubbish
    Zuccini = courgette
    Eggplant = aubergine
    Purse = handbag
    Wallet = purse
    Stores = shops
    Apartment = flat
    Broil = grill
  17. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    Diapers ... nappies (also "napkins"?)

    Man from UNCLE, Napoleon Solo. I seem to recall him being given a nickname of "Nappie". Hmm.

    Take out ... Carry away

    Trivia: Can you tell when the Union Jack is being displayed upside-down? BTW, a vessel will fly a national ensign upside-down when it is in distress, so that has a very significant meaning.

    I had read that it commonly happens with those little flags on their own little poles. I went on a Princess cruise around the UK July 2015. One of the ship's bars set itself up as an English pub with little Union Jack flags stuck about all over the place. I spotted some of those flags as being displayed upside-down. It's subtle, but once you know what to look for it is unmistakable.

    Netflix. When you are in other countries, Netflix' offerings change a lot, as we discovered in Austria, Germany, and France. When any of you Netflix subscribers travel abroad, look into that.

    Netflix USA still offers a Norwegian TV series, "Occupied", in which Norway stops oil production in favor of Thorium reactors, whereupon the EU sanctions a Russian invasion and occupation of Norway to ensure continued oil production from Norway. One character runs a restaurant which is friendly to the Russian occupiers. Their table centerpieces include the Norwegian and Russian flags displayed together. I noticed that the Russian flags were being displayed upside-down.
  18. datitmarsh

    datitmarsh Member

    One of my Dad's pet peeves was seeing the flag upside down!
  19. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    Some flags, like the French and the Austrian flags, you can't tell when they're upside-down (unless the red bands on the Austrian are different widths). Some it's easy (eg, USA, Russia, Germany, Mexico). Some, like the UK, you can tell, but you have to know what to look for.
  20. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    No duff!

    We heard that one on a Canadian documentary show, "Mayday", which is shown in the USA on Smithsonian Channel as "Air Disasters". This particular episode dealt with First Air Flight 6560, a Boeing 737-200 that crashed on 20 August 2011 while trying to land way up north at Resolute Bay Airport, Nunavut, Canada, but instead flew into a hill 2 km to the east. Normally, survivors of a crash in that region end up dying from exposure long before help can ever reach them, which is usually a few days later. Because of that remoteness and the lack of rescue facilities, a growing concern about the loss of Arctic ice is that by opening up the Northwest Passage it will result in more ship traffic, including cruise ships, which will lead to much greater loss of life in case of emergency. However, when this crash happened the Canadian Forces were already at Resolute Bay for a disaster preparedness drill, Operation Nanook 2011, and were about to start responding to a simulated airliner crash, so the right kind of help was on-site in short order.

    Here's what we heard. Normally on TV and in the movies when a military drill is interrupted by a real-life situation, we hear the announcement, "This is not a drill!" As I recall, in this re-enactment the radioman called out the real-life emergency followed by "No duff!"

    Did we interpret that correctly?

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