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#1720 - 04/29/00 09:27 AM UK English - US English Dictionary  
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jmh Offline
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Does anyone know of a dictionary which translates UK into US English and vice versa?

I met someone yesterday who had just arrived from Portland Oregon to live in Edinburgh for two years. Her children are starting school tomorrow (children hate to stand out) and have already been warned about the different meanings for "pants", "rubbers", "fanny packs", "purse" ....(e-mail me if you want a translation - some of it isn't printable)- it goes on. She's also quite worried about what we'll do to her children's spelling - I'm sure they'll unlearn it all when they go back and I hope our teachers are proficient in pointing out differences where they exist.

Our cultures are moving together so much more than in our parents' generation. Children here watch "Friends" and "Neighbours" without noticing that they are made in a different country. It often comes as a surprise when we find things are more different than we'd expected. We've discussed Bill Bryson's books elsewhere on this site. I'd love to know what its like for a twenty year old student crossing the pond for the first time.

It occurred to me that we are building up quite a nice collection here as we discuss different usage - I hadn't realised that story was used for storey (of a building), for example.

Perhaps we should have a section where we can discuss different usages where we wont bore to death those who aren't interested. I'm also interested in the separate development of the English language in Australia, Asia and the Carribean. I suppose I should post it under "English as a Global Langauage" but the discussion there doesn't seem to be about individual words. Judging by some of the postings we'll need a whole section on Kentuckian!

What do you think?


#1721 - 04/30/00 01:15 AM Re: UK English - US English Dictionary  
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cadaver Offline
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Ohio USA
The US word that I had to be most careful of in the UK was "bum".
The US phrase "on the bum" simply means not be feeling well or if it refers to machinery or equipment means not working properly. A " bum" means a vagrant or hobo, "bumming around" means aimlessness, to "bum a ride" means to hitch-hike or ask for transportation from a friend, "bum steer" means bad advise. None of these terms would cause a blush in polite company but would be considered as casual usages,
The use of " UK" is far more common usage these days than 30 or 40 years ago. But when it was not so well known there was a joke about a US executive that had a British secretary. In answering a telephone call the secretary stated that the executive was not in - - that he had gone to the United Kingdom. After a long pause the caller asked if it was too late to send flowers for the services.
In my several trip to the UK I was always careful not to take any striped ties. I had no idea about whom I might offend by wearing the St. Bartholomew's Sons of Destitute Civil Servants Soccer and Library League pattern.




#1722 - 04/30/00 07:57 AM Re: UK English - US English Dictionary  
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lusy Offline
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Melbourne, Australia
I don't know of a dictionary as such, but I have seen reference to at least one book on this subject. The name escapes me, of course, sorry about that, but someone here is sure to know. Your idea of a separate forum on differing usages seems good to me. I too am fascinated by this subject. Some years ago a colleague of mine (ex-Yorkshire, now Oz) who was visiting the US on business was invited to the home of one of his contacts for dinner. The time came when the hostess suggested that perhaps people would like to eat, whereupon my friend announced: "Yes, I am feeling rather peckish", and wondered why everyone fell about laughing.


#1723 - 04/30/00 02:34 PM Re: UK English - US English Dictionary  
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tsuwm Offline
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this too shall pass
>"Yes, I am feeling rather peckish", and wondered why everyone fell about laughing.

...probably thanks to Monty Python; we in the colonies owe a lot of what we think we know about British culture to MP.
: )

http://members.aol.com/tsuwm/

#1724 - 04/30/00 08:55 PM Re: UK English - US English Dictionary  
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jmh Offline
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Cadaver

Which presumably why your "fanny pack" is called our "bum bag" - here they both refer to the lower half of the body but "fanny" just doesn't cut it here in polite society.

Keep sending the flowers. I like a current version of the UK, used on a BBC geek programme - the Untied Kingdom - it feels a bit like that here in Scotland.

Keep wearing the striped ties - you never know who might take you in. I once someone wearing my old school blazer - a hideous maroon and gold striped affair. I knew it couldn't be an alumni - as he was wearing the uniform of an all-girls school. I didn't like to tell him.


#1725 - 04/30/00 08:58 PM Re: UK English - US English Dictionary  
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jmh Offline
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>everyone fell about laughing

Lucy - You'll have to e-mail me the answer - I can only guess at the moment - I am feeling rather peckish!

The Australian one I found strange was the idea that men wore thongs. I imagined men dancing removing layers of clothes in a seedy club - it turned out that thongs are the same as the footwear that we wear on the beach (but probably more stylish versions) called flip-flops.


#1726 - 05/14/00 09:48 PM Re: UK English - US English Dictionary  
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jmh Offline
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Friday night saw a new UK version of the Jerry Springer Show, filmed in London with a mixture of British and international guests. It ocurred to me that he really should have been reading this web site as he became very confused.

He was interviewing Chris Tarrant (who presents "Who Wants to be a Millionnaire" here). He'd been told by his researchers that Chris Tarrant had a party trick. He said "I hear that you are able to take off your shorts without removing your pants". In the UK this is not terribly impressive - people do it all the time. Shorts are worn in the Summer (short trousers) over pants (underwear). Fortunately Chris Tarrant understood the question but pointed out that he couldn't do it as he wasn't wearing any "pants". Jerry Springer looked a little confused as he clearly was wearing pants in the US sense (UK= trousers). In the end Chris Tarrant proved his point by showing Jerry Springer (but not the audience)exactly what he was wearing under his trousers.

We could have saved him all that trouble!


#1727 - 05/16/00 01:09 PM Re: UK English - US English Dictionary  
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Jackie Offline
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>Chris Tarrant understood the question but pointed out that he couldn't do it as he wasn't wearing any "pants". Jerry Springer looked a little confused as he clearly was wearing pants in the US sense (UK= trousers). In the end Chris Tarrant proved his point by showing Jerry Springer exactly what he was wearing under his trousers.<

I knew there was a good reason I don't watch much TV!




#1728 - 05/17/00 05:47 AM Re: UK English - US English Dictionary  
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Lucy Offline
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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
I while away an idle moment or two by playing wordgames, as one does. One site has my antipodean vocabulary foxed. Two recent examples among many: a 'philly hooper' is, apparently, a 'sixer'. Neither of these make any sense at all to me. And a 'williwaw', it seems, is a violent commotion. Where on earth does that come from? Any help gratefully received.


#1729 - 05/17/00 12:04 PM Re: UK English - US English Dictionary  
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paulb Offline
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Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Hi Lucy

Can't help you with philly hooper/sixer (although the latter is a term used in scouting, I think).

Williwaw is a sudden violent squall, orig. in the Straits of Magellan [SO]. It's also the title of an early novel (his first?) by Gore Vidal.




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