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Language Differences between America and UK – different words have different meanings.



When I set up the first page on the subject of language differences I had no
idea just how much interest it would evoke. This has resulted in me
receiving a great many contributions on the subject but, this in itself, has
given me somewhat of a problem.

I have been trying to think of a way to present all that information in an
entertaining and yet easy to use format, however, to date, I have not been
able to crack the problem. It is far too complex a subject just to create
lists and it has also become apparent that there are wide ranging opinions.

In view of all this I have decided to publish visitors’ responses on pages
in the hope that others will find them of interest.

Hailey Shirakawa

I currently live in Maine but have
lived in Louisiana, Colorado, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada
and California. Every state has a different way of calling one thing and
they have absolutely no idea if I say something in the way we say it in New
England (like a bubblah. Had no idea till I described it and they said oh
you mean water fountain….).

So to me, I use both British and American (mainly New Englander American)
English. We had a huge debate if crumpets are biscuits at work. Of course I
said absolutely no. And I won the survey. Ha! But they call jam jelly while
jelly to me is jello to them. So….yeah it will be fun! Yay! I call door
yard (in Maine) which is a driveway in Massachusetts. But I call it highway
and breakdown lane (MA) but it’s freeway and shoulder in the west coast.
It’s so much fun to me.

So thank you. I’m gonna introduce to my co-workers what clotted cream is and
crumpets are. I can’t wait to tell them about spotted dick pudding.

Dave has written

A Lift
in the USA is the thing in a service station/garage (car repair place) that
is hydraulic and “lifts” the car in the air to work under.

Garage is a car/truck repair place that does
not sell petrol/gasoline.

I have never heard a flagpole called a
flagstaff in the US, I’m on the west coast its always a flagpole.

A spanner is also a wrench just an open end
type in the US, a box end is called a wrench or box end wrench.

Its a shoelace here in the US too, never heard
it called a shoe string.

Class in the US (referring to school) is a hour
long in one subject. also called a period. “gym class” “English class” etc.

Parcel in the US is a letter or pouch envelope.
Package is a box being sent.

Lavatory is used in the US for institutions,
schools, etc. Restroom is used in general
public places, and bathroom is used in homes.

Flat in the US is a small one story apartment
also called a studio apartment. Apartments are
larger and consist of one story or more, two story apt. are also a town

Trousers is used in the US and is normally a
suit pant or old persons pants, pretty much what the other person said.

Minced beef is much finer ground than hamburger
in the US.

USA, “Madam”, is a formal generic variation of
Mrs. (Mistress), used to address a married woman, or a woman who is no
longer available for marriage. “Madam” is contracted to Ma’am, in which the
apostrophe stands for the missing letter, “d”. The use of Ma’am, or Madam,
or Madame pertaining to the owner or manager of a house of ill repute finds
its origin in the fact that the, “Madame”, was not for hire. The specific
formal usage of, “Ma’am”, pertains only to a married female whose name
is not known.

Otherwise, “Mrs.” (Misses) <surname>, is used. In the USA, “Miss”, is a
formal and proper salutation for an unmarried virgin seeking a husband.

In The USA, an informal, business, or intentionally ambiguous female
salutation, primarily used among middle class feminists, is, “Ms.” (Miz), a
mixture of, “Misses” and “Miss”, meaning either Mrs. or Miss. The lower
classes, and upper class either use Miss or Mrs., but the middle class has
adopted Ms., especially in business relationships involving feminists,
lesbians, female judges, female lawyers, or female doctors.

The vast majority of US citizens, both male and female, prefer the
traditional salutations, Miss and Mrs..

In the USA, the word, “boot”, means a sort of rugged or stylish, calf height
or higher footwear, especially with a raised heel. In UK, the word boot
refers to the USA meaning, but in UK the rear storage compartment of an
automobile is called the, “boot” also. The lid, or top hinged part is called
a, “boot lid”.

In Wisconsin, USA, a public drinking fountain is called a, “bubbler”.
Across the Wisconsin border, in Illinois, USA, it is called a, “drinking
fountain”. If a Wisconsinite travels 10 miles into Illinois, and asks for
the location a bubbler, the people have no idea what he’s talking about.

Among middle class Caucasian USA, “shoot the breeze”, means “to make light
conversation”, especially to consume excess time. The lower class uses,
“jaw”, referring to the movement of the lower jaw when speaking.
Examples are, “We were just shooting the breeze.” and “I was jawing with
them truckers.” (semi haulers).

Among African American inner city ghetto dwellers, the term, “you
straight?”, or “we straight?”, means, “Do you feel your were treated
equitably?” or “Is everything between us equitable?”, especially as a
courtesy gesture from a drug dealer to a client.

Also among African Americans, “horn”, is a term used to define a device to
hold “crack” (free base) cocaine for smoking. If a suburban dweller abuses
crack cocaine, and seeks the drug in an urban African American community,
and the person doesn’t know what a horn is, the drug dealers know they can
dispense small quantities for a given price, and the suburbanite won’t know
he’s being cheated.

Lower class USA slang for inflicting a wound with a firearm is, “Cap his
ass”, originating in the name of toys from the 1970s, made to resemble a
real firearm, that used tiny packets of gun powder to make a sound like a
real firearm, albeit a much softer sound. In the United States, between 1940
and 1960, grade school aged boys frequently carried firearms with them to
school, because public schools offered classes to hone skill in the use of
firearms. There were no recorded firearm related injuries attributable to
this practice, but to foreigners to the USA, the concept of 12 year old boys
being encouraged to bring rifles to
school is unusual.

“Ripped off”, in USA slang means, “cheated” in some way. But it does not
refer to “infidelity” between lovers or spouses, which is called, “cheating”
also. “He cheated on me!”, means he had intimate relations with another girl
during a time he was supposed to be my exclusive lover, which is implicit in
Western style marriage.

“Beat up”, is USA slang for being on the receiving end of battery, or
assault without use of weapons. “He got beat up!”