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Freyda



Joined: 04 Jan 2009
Posts: 425



PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 5:49 pm    Post subject: You'd think we were all speaking the same language, but...  Reply with quote

I'm starting a thread to help with English when words clearly don't mean quite the same thing across the pond, and possibly also right around the other side of the tennis ball...? (mixed metaphor number one)

I don't have one of those helpful trans-Atlantic dictionaries and I'm sure Bill Bryson must have written something on the subject, but I don't have that either. So I'm hoping others here will contribute both answers and new questions.

1. "visiting" - in the UK we mean that just as "to go and see someone" either socially or as in a visit to the dentist. But I seem to gather from reading American English that it may also mean to sit and chat sociably, since I'll read that "we visited for a few minutes" when someone is clearly already in the house. Am I right in this, or is there more to it? It feels like a nice old-fashioned phrase in that way, from the days when neighbours or ladies did a lot of "visiting".

I had another query but I've forgotten it!  Embarassed


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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I have an American friend who says things like 'Did you have a good visit with your friend?'. meaning did you have a good time when went to see her.


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Ann



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 1112


Location: Worcestershire

PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of the funniest americanisms I found was that to them 'braces' meant only on teeth and not on trousers - (of course I mean pants!).


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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Which leads onto the difference between the use of the word 'suspenders' on either side of the Pond...   Wink


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MikeAlx



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
Posts: 2108


Location: Seaford, East Sussex

PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just don't go in a shop ('store') in the US and ask if they sell rubbers.  Wink

(unless you actually want condoms, of course!)



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Gino



Joined: 20 Dec 2008
Posts: 127


Location: UK

PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You beat me to it I was going to suggest if you wan't to erase your penciled jottings you should not ask around the office for a rubber also when your leave the office for a smoke do not say you are going for a fag!.



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Chibiabos83
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Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3435


Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A recurring feature of my schooldays was the throwing of items of stationery across classrooms to eliminate the trouble of walking. On one occasion I remember a pencil eraser whizzing just past the ear of a friend of mine. "What was that?" he cried, to which I sarcastically replied, "It's called a rubber, Jonny." It took me a couple of seconds to work out why everyone else was laughing. Halcyon days... (Or, in the case of chemistry lessons, halogen days).


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Jen M



Joined: 24 Nov 2008
Posts: 596


Location: Middlesex, UK

PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We probably all know that "sidewalk" means "pavement", but what about "crosswalk"?  I assume it means pedestrian crossing, or is it a crossroads, or something else?  I've come across this a couple of times recently and was not clear from the context what was meant.



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Green Jay



Joined: 13 Jan 2009
Posts: 1605


Location: West Sussex

PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is well-timed, because I'm reading The American Wife and some things don't really translate. I've read so much American literature that I have grasped things like some brand-name foods and shops, and am sort of au fait with the US school system, though could do with a brief lesson on the equivalent school years. 10th grade etc doesnt mean a particular age to me, though with the recent adoption of years 1 -13 at British schools it is a bit more familiar. I'm not sure if they are the exact same, though.

Americans talk about 'school' when they mean university. Or what I mean as university! (it's hard to be tactful)

I read a book recently where the woman keeps decribing herself as wearing a knitted 'jumper' but it clearly wasn't what I'd mean by the same - our jumper is the equivalent of a sweater - knitted, top half garment with long sleeves, since we'd also say 'short-sleeved' or 'sleeveless jumper' to differentiate that. What on earth was she wearing???

I suppose my queries are about things that don't readily spring to the mind's eye when reading because they don't mean anything much to me. I think fags and rubbers are well-worn (no pun intended) jokes and wouldn't stop my understanding of a piece of fiction. But sometimes brand-name products are totally obscure to me, as are the arcane habits of American life. What is Junior League? I know Little League is sport for kids, but this is for housewives.


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Green Jay



Joined: 13 Jan 2009
Posts: 1605


Location: West Sussex

PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 10:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jen M wrote:
We probably all know that "sidewalk" means "pavement", but what about "crosswalk"?  I assume it means pedestrian crossing, or is it a crossroads, or something else?  I've come across this a couple of times recently and was not clear from the context what was meant.


Yes, but 'pavement' doesn't mean pavement either! I think it means the roadway, so if you told an American or Canadian to keep on the pavement they'd get run over.

This subject is much more fraught than the familiar elevator/lift, sidewalk/pavement examples might imply.  Confused



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