Monday, April 8, 2013

Separated by a Common Language: Part 2

Following up on one of my early posts, here's another edition of more words that cause confusion by being different from the words we use in the States.

  • "boot and bonnet" - The "boot" of a car is its trunk, and the "bonnet" of a car is its hood. Something you'll see advertised over here is a "car boot sale", which is like a rummage sale or flea market.
  • "casualty" - The emergency room at a hospital is called "casualty". They also use the word "hospital" slightly differently - not the word itself, but the syntax involved in discussing it. Perhaps the best example is that one goes to hospital, not to the hospital; someone is in hospital, not in the hospital.
  • "chemist" - A chemist is a pharmacy, or maybe more accurately what we'd call a drug store. It always reminds me of the Apothecary in Romeo and Juliet.
  • "chips" - "Chips", in British vernacular, are what Americans would call "fries". What Americans would call "chips", Brits call "crisps".
  • "college/university" - In America, we tend to use the word "college" a lot more frequently. Here in the United Kingdom, "college" is different from "university". I think the easiest way to explain it would be to say that in the United Kingdom, "college" is about the equivalent of what Americans would call "community college" or "trade school". It's much more vocational than the concept of "college" in American parlance. By comparison, "university" in British vernacular is pretty much exactly equivalent to what Americans would refer to interchangeably as "college" or "university", with an American "university" being a large college, or a major state college, or perhaps a college that includes research and postgraduate programs.
  • "dual carriageway" - A dual carriageway is what Americans would refer to as a "four lane highway" - it's a street or road with multiple lanes going in the same direction. In conversation, CN Chatti has occasionally judged locations based upon whether or not they had any dual carriageways.
  • "hamper" - Several times, particularly during the Christmas season, I was offered several chances to enter my name into a drawing for a "hamper". I finally figured out that they were talking about a gift basket.
  • "industrial estate" - I'm not sure that we really have an equivalent to this in the American dialect, other than maybe an "industrial park". It's an area that's sort of zoned for business or industry, but maybe not so much in a retail sense of those words.
  • "inverted commas" - For some reason, the Brits (or at least the Scots) call quotation marks "inverted commas".
  • "invigilator" - You might think that an "invigilator" sounds like someone who's going to disembowel you. In fact, it's the word for "proctor" - someone who supervises students while they're sitting for an exam.
  • "revision" - The Brits call review, as in reviewing for an exam, "revision". It drives me absolutely crazy.
  • "paper round" - Paper route.
  • "scheme" - Programs, and particularly government programs, are referred to as "scheme". For example, the government might have an "employment scheme" or a "housing scheme". This is sort of unsettling for me, as "scheme" tends to have a negative, almost conspiratorial context in the American vernacular.
  • "lie in" - In the United Kingdom, if you sleep late, you're "having a lie in" - it's basically the equivalent of sleeping in.
  • "sick" - Vomit. This works in a couple of different contexts. For example, if you've just vomited, you'd say, "I've just been sick", not "I just puked my guts out". If you're holding a baby and it vomits on you, you might say, "I've got baby sick on my shirt".

    I realize that it's basically been six months since I did one of these, and I'll try to do at least one more before I leave. I'm probably getting used to a lot of the linguistic nuances, so it may be more difficult, but it's worth the effort. I'll admit, the accents still give me some trouble every now and again - probably moreso than the words themselves.
  • No comments:

    Post a Comment