British and American English

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Darth Florist
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British and American English

Post by Darth Florist » Thu Aug 27, 2015 4:27 pm

I've sort-of moved the nub of this discussion from the "Introduction" thread, as it's stopped being an introduction.
Yes, "fag" is a British term for a cigarette. It's also the name of a young school-boy who performs menial chores for an elder boy, usually at a fee-paying school (e.g. Eton or Harrow), though it's no longer done. I do know that in the U.S. fag is short for faggot, meaning a gay. However, there are 2 other meanings for faggot on this side of the pond. The most common meaning is a meatball cooked in gravy - fairly common in Wales. It also means a large bundle of wooden twigs and sticks that gets carried on the back.
I agree about the different meanings for 'spunk', but if I go into details here, I'll get thrown off the forum!!!
One thing we don't understand - nickels and dimes! What are they? It's obvious to the world and his wife that a quarter is 25 cents, but what are nickels and dimes?
It's not just the different meanings of words, but the spellings too, e.g. centre - center, theatre - theater, colour - color, defence - defense. There's got to be a lot more!
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Re: British and American English

Post by Big Daddy O'Reilly » Thu Aug 27, 2015 5:52 pm

Meatballs cooked in gravy sounds delicious, lol! And believe it or not, even in our dictionaries, the meaning of "faggot" is a bundle of wooden twigs, as you say - it sort of makes you wonder how certain words got taken completely out of context and ended up being used for an entirely different meaning. Matter of fact, I remember in Grade 4 our teacher tried to curb name calling by having us write down the definition of the names we call somebody to see if we even knew what we were calling them; one day, I called a girl who was annoying me a "dummy," so I had to look it up in the dictionary and write the definition down: the definition was a person who is unable to speak, or something like that. . . . so accordingly, the teacher said I called her someone who can't speak. Heh.

Nickels are five cents and dimes are ten cents. Pennies are one cent, and I honestly don't know why we still have pennies, they're pretty much useless and worthless. We also used to have half dollar coins and even silver dollar coins, but I those are definitely before my time - I think they went out with our bicentinneal, I don't know.

As for spelling, get this: even in the US, the official/proper spelling is "doughnut," however it's gotten to a point that many keep shortening it to "donut," so much so in fact that there's some kind of doughnut cereal out there (I'm not sure, I've never had it), and on the back of the box there were supposedly some fun facts about doughnuts, and one of them actually said, "'Donut' used to be spelled 'doughnut.'"

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Re: British and American English

Post by Ranger » Mon Jan 04, 2016 2:46 pm

It always used to confuse me as a young Brit watching M*A*S*H when they would call their beds cots. Here a cot is what a baby sleeps in and I thought it was perhaps a joke I didn't get, never occurred to me it was the American term for them.

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Re: British and American English

Post by Big Daddy O'Reilly » Thu Jan 07, 2016 12:35 pm

Ranger wrote:It always used to confuse me as a young Brit watching M*A*S*H when they would call their beds cots. Here a cot is what a baby sleeps in
Those we call "cribs." Though, ironically, "crib" is also a slang term for what people in the rap and hip-hop industry like to refer to as where they live, lol.

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Re: British and American English

Post by Darth Florist » Thu Jan 07, 2016 6:19 pm

Oddly enough, when talking about a place of sleep, the only time a Brit uses the term 'crib' is as a bed for the infant Jesus Christ, as in the carol...
"Away in a manger, no crib for a bed...."
Do the residents of the West side of the Atlantic still refer to an Englishman as a 'Limey'? Or is it reserved for all Brits? And where does the term "Yank" come from? Someone told me years ago that it was a corruption or mispronounciation of something, but I'm a bit sceptical about that.
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Re: British and American English

Post by Big Daddy O'Reilly » Thu Jan 07, 2016 11:13 pm

I. . . . guess not? Because, honestly, I have never heard the time "limey" before in my life. The closest thing I ever hear is "blimey," which Brits seem to say a lot in our shows and movies over here . . . do you guys really say that a lot, or is it one of those exaggerated stereotypes like how we stereotype Canadians always saying "eh" at the end of every sentence?

In the same vein as "blimey," I'm wondering something: on HOGAN'S HEROES, Richard Dawson's character, Newkirk, would often mutter, "oh, cor. . . ." whenever he got annoyed or irritated by something - is that pretty common? I'm assuming if it is, it's probably among the cockneys, since that was the dialect Dawson ended up having to give Newkirk.

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Re: British and American English

Post by Darth Florist » Fri Jan 08, 2016 6:50 am

The word "Limey" comes from the time when trans-Atlantic crossings were done in wooden sailing ships, particularly in the 18th century. Sailors developed a medical condition called SCURVY or SCURVEY. I don't know how it manifested itself (a skin condition???), but it turned out to be a deficiency of Vitamin C, This was remedied by including limes into the diet when they were at sea. When the Americans saw this, they anointed the term LIMEY on us.
"Blimey" (which I don't the origin of), is a mild term, rarely used, though I used it as a school child.
I was unaware of Canucks putting "eh" after everything, but over here some people, particularly south of Hadrian's wall, say "ya know" at the end of every sentence. In Scotland it's "ye ken" or simply "ken", which annoys me a bit.
"Cor" is fairly common - it's an expression of surprise, such as " Cor, look at those tits.......oh dear (in a disappointed tone), one of them's flown away!"
In Hogan's Heroes, Richard Dawson's (actually born Colin Emm) accent is fake, as he was born in Hampshire (south England), though copying Cockney is easy for a Brit - probably less so if you already have a non-English accent.
For your information, a dialect is different to an accent. A dialect is a corruption of a language - as an example, in Cumbria (in North West England), there is a local dialect, particularly in the rural areas. Instead of counting "one, two, three, four, five", they would say "yan, tan, petherum, metherum, pym" (the spelling may not be right). Also if they "throw something over the wall" they'd say "scop it over the dyke". I don't know how you'd define an accent, but in the US, I could differentiate between, say, a Texas accent from a New York accent. Just in England, we've got loads of accents - West Country (Somerset, Devon & Dorset), London (not Cockney, which is just descriptive of a certain type of Londoner). Birmingham (e.g. Ozzy Osbourne), Liverpool (a.k.a. Scouse - all of The Beatles had gentle Scouse accents), Lancashire, Yorkshire and Geordie (Newcastle upon Tyne). The Scots of course have their accent, but there are variations, as do the Welsh and the Irish.
We use the word "bloody" a lot, but it's got nothing to do with the red stuff that leaks out of your body. It's a corruption of the phrase "by my lady", which has something to do with an old queen (Lady Jane Grey? I'm not sure), and in those days, it was considered to be a serious obscenity - comparable with today's F, C and N words!
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Re: British and American English

Post by Big Daddy O'Reilly » Fri Jan 08, 2016 11:26 am

On the subject of different accents and such, here's an excerpt from an interview Richard Dawson did a couple of years before he died, explaining how he wanted to give Newkirk a Scouse accent instead of a cockney, but was told people couldn't understand what he was saying:


He does have a point, though: in our American shows and movies, we tend to always make Brits sound cockney, but in an exaggerated way - I've heard actual cockney accents before (Jack Wild, Bob Hoskins). Interestingly enough, I do actually have a friend over in England, and in all honesty, he hardly has any kind of noticable accent at all: very subtle, very light. Likewise, my best friend is Canadian, and in spite of the fact that she pronounces certain words differently than we do ("sore-y" as opposed to "saw-ry" or "to-more-ow" rather than "to-mar-ow") she sounds almost nothing like the way Canadians are depicted in our American shows and movies. Then again, I myself am from the south, and we truly sound nothing like the way southern accents are stereotyped in entertainment; if anything, stereotypical southern accents sound like exaggerated Cajun accents.

I overlooked one of your previous notes: I'm not sure about the origin of "yank" either, however, what's interesting is that apparently, to us, you guys are the "yanks." Meanwhile, the northern states and Canada are "yankees," which apparently is something that originated as far back as our Civil War when north and south were divided.

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Re: British and American English

Post by Darth Florist » Sun Jan 10, 2016 7:18 pm

When it comes to accents, I can understand why American TV & films use a London accent, simply that it's the accent from Britain's largest city, though the English accents used on M*A*S*H are quite realistic, assuming that it's U.S. actors doing them. Speaking personally, although I've been living and working in Scotland for over 40 years, I still have a 'neutral' English accent. You could never guess where I was born or brought up if you listened to me. As far as the UK is concerned, the weirdest accent (to my ears) is Geordie (pronounced 'Jordy'). If you go to YouTube and put in "Auf Wiedersehen Pet", and listen to the characters Neville, Denis and Oz, you'll here what I mean.
The idea that Americans call Brits "Yanks" is new to me - it's always been the other way round in my experience. I'm well aware that the southern states of the USA refer to those in the north as Yankees (Duke Forrest, in the M*A*S*H books does this on numerous occasions, as he's from Georgia) - I believe the dividing line is/was called the Mason-Dixon Line, but I've no idea where it is.
A word that crops up on M*A*S*H is "hangnail". I don't think it's a medical term, but it MIGHT refer to someone having a racist attitude. Am I right, or am I mis-reading a situation?
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Re: British and American English

Post by Big Daddy O'Reilly » Mon Jan 11, 2016 11:15 pm

You'll appreciate this, Florist: I heard the word "limey" for the first time yesterday. It was on a cable show we have here in the U.S. called WORLD'S DUMBEST...: it's a celebrity commentary show where they show a countdown of 20 clips for an hour of people blundering, bumbling, and otherwise just doing stupid things. Different episodes have different themes, such as Criminals or Drivers (both usually showcase police footage), Inventions (informercials for as-seen-on-TV items), Performers (usually from YouTubers, or regional public access TV shows and such), or other themes, and they're usually accompanied by C and D-list comedians and has-been entertainers offering up wisecracks on the clips. Anyway, I saw an episode last night I never saw before, this one was "World's Dumbest Tourists," and featured a clip English soccer fans (or "football" as you call it over there) that the voice-over narrator refered to as "limeys."

Ah, Scotland, the land of me ancestors (that and Ireland). It's interesting you brought that up - I understand that a young Craig Ferguson often got annoyed by older shows and movies bringing in English actors to play Scottish characters, because they always did such horrible accents, so years later when he played an English character on THE DREW CAREY SHOW, he intentionally did a bad English accent as a "take that" jab at all the English actors who did bad Scottish accents.

I'd have to look it up because I too don't remember where the Mason-Dixon line is/was, but I'm pretty sure it must be above Kentucky (which is the state right above me), as it's pretty much a southern state and all else above it is north.

As for "hangnail," the only context I know of it is medical, somewhat: it's those little shards you get when the edges of your fingernails are chipped, like so:
Image
Not very fun.

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Re: British and American English

Post by kkt » Mon Jan 25, 2016 1:19 am

I think "Yankee" strictly means just from the U.S., or more narrowly from the New England states.
It was apparently not used before 1775, when it was a derisive term used by British troops for the rebelling colonists.

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Re: British and American English

Post by kkt » Mon Jan 25, 2016 1:23 am

Nickels are so called because they are made out of the metal. U.S. nickels were among the first uses of the refined metal. Prior to nickel, they were called half-dimes.

The "dime" term was used for American coins starting with Thomas Jefferson.

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