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Ooh! Interesting idea, RE.


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Interesting, but I doubt it, at least here in the U.S. After all, what would the U.S. Postal Service deliver then? Wink

Arnie, you capitalize the e? That makes it even a bit harder, though I always capitalize the i in Internet or the w in Web.
 
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AOL (at least the UK version) already say "You've got mail" when you log in. I don't suppose there's much possibility of anyone expecting to receive snail-mail via AOL, though. Smile

Yes, Kalleh, the E is capitalised. As I said it's our house style at work, not my own. Presumably it is by analogy with "Internet" and "Web", as you say.


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Hi, I'm Erik and I'm new here, although I will say hello to Richard English and Kalleh as I have posted on the realbeer.com forum.
I'm only an interested amateur at the linguistics game so bear with me if I'm not terribly up on the way things are done!
Anyway to the point of my first posting. What's the current thought as to how the American and the similar Canadian accents have developed? Obviously when the US broke away from Britain the language was considerably different to now. Did the language at the time sound more like American or British English- and by that I mean in Britain too? I read somewhere that if you want to hear what English from the 18th Century actually sounded like you should listen to the way hillbillies speak or even perhaps Yosemite Sam! What is evident to me is that Americans speak using essentially a different part of their mouth to the British, but why should this be so?
I do realise that as the two countries went their separate ways so did the language and that we should be surprised that it actually stayed similar enough to understand each other!
 
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I actually post as Bloodaxe on realbeer.com, Being of Anglo-Norwegian extraction I've heard all the jokes about where's my horned helmet, etc! I've been called called Erik The Viking and Erik Bloodaxe so many times I adopted it as my nickname when I go ten-pin bowling and also on a few other forums. Despite the nickname I'm really a mellow fellow even after a few halves (!)of real ale.
 
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I'm only an interested amateur at the linguistics game so bear with me if I'm not terribly up on the way things are done!


Hi Erik Smile. Good to have you on the forums. My ex-husband came from your neck of the woods. He was born in Middlesborough and lived in Billingham till he joined the RAF.

Don't worry, they're all very nice here and don't bite Smile.

quote:
Anyway to the point of my first posting. What's the current thought as to how the American and the similar Canadian accents have developed? Obviously when the US broke away from Britain the language was considerably different to now. Did the language at the time sound more like American or British English- and by that I mean in Britain too? I read somewhere that if you want to hear what English from the 18th Century actually sounded like you should listen to the way hillbillies speak or even perhaps Yosemite Sam! What is evident to me is that Americans speak using essentially a different part of their mouth to the British, but why should this be so?


I heard a very interesting programme on BBC Radio Four a few weeks ago about the Outer Banks of North Carolina. From the extracts and interviews I heard, the accent seems to be almost English west country.

I had a quick google to see if I could find anything about and came up with this and here.

quote:
I do realise that as the two countries went their separate ways so did the language and that we should be surprised that it actually stayed similar enough to understand each other!


It was probably because of the continuing exposure of the nascent American culture to British influences (usually military and trade) until mass immigration from other cultures in the mid to late 19th centuries brought in other major dialects, such as Yiddish. These later imports stayed mainly in the big cities on the east coast - especially New York - because that was where the bulk of the immigrant ships landed.

I've also noticed that the South African and Australian/New Zealand accents have a lot in common with each other too, but they sound totally different from their northern hemisphere counterparts.

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Welcome to Wordcraft, Erik! Smile Big Grin Wink Cool I have to run so I will say more tomorrow, but I wanted to be sure to say hi.
 
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This has nothing to do with Erik's question, but is a comment regarding Bloodaxe's reference to Viking horned helmets. Just to right a wrong, I'd like to inform everyone that Vikings did NOT have horned helmets. That was a Wagnerian invention for the opera. Neither did Vikings have garish striped sails. And they did not have dragon heads on the prow of their ships, except when entering or leaving port.
I realize this demolishes cherished myths, but it's true.
 
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I realize this demolishes cherished myths, but it's true.

What a disappointment. You'll be telling us next that, when they invaded a country, they just sang Viking songs to the natives, rather than raping and pillaging!

Is nothing sacred anymore?


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Welcome, Eric. You will find that there are several of us here, including Kalleh and I, who appreciate fine beer. And we intend to sample a few pints thereof next October when we all (or as many as can make it) meet in Brimingham (England).

We do hope to see you there - booking are open.


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Gee, Mark, you'll be telling me Hagar the Horrible doesn't exist either!
Actually I knew it wasn't true about the helmets but it doesn't stop everyone taking the mick with the cliches- typical ones being "You'll be off on your hols to Lindisfarne shortly, eh, to sack the monastry. Then kill the monks and rape any women- or is it the other way round?" and using rather bad accents somewhat akin to the Swedish chef on the Muppet Show. Lacking a sense of humour I just kill any micky takers with my (non existant) double headed axe!
Re. N. American accents is why they are so similar. You'd think if anything a Hispanic tinged accent might have arisen in say California for example. I do realise that this is sometimes the case with say the Amish with their Germanic accents but as they're nearly a closed society I'm not surprised there. The Canadian accent you might have expected to differ from the US more so than it does given the Country's links with the the British Empire and afterwards the Commonwealth. I know we can only take guesses with how people really sounded in Centuries past but it does make you wonder what people sounded like in the late 18th Century- is it North America that kept the general tones and Britain that changed? Or as I suspect both Countries began with the same starting point and have developed in their separate ways.

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It is curious, isn't it? We do have different accents, though, in different areas of the country. More than you might notice from over there. I can tell when someone is from Cleveland, as opposed to Central Ohio, where I live. I can distinguish Chicago folks from Bostonians . . . and of course, different parts of the South have different twinges of accents.

There are often times when I can't distinguish between British accents, though, and I most certainly do not know enough about them to be able to name where a person is from by hearing them. I figure that is just my personal ignorance, though.


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Dear Richard,

You ALMOST got it right. They'll be singing Viking songs WHILE raping and pillaging. After all, what is life without song?

The Wizard of Oslo
 
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Hagar is great. And I thoroughly agree with you regarding the other points in your posting. See my reply to Richard English!
 
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As a kid, I sometimes used to wonder what "pillaging" really entailed. I had a (hazy) idea of what "raping" meant, so I thought that "pillaging" was something along the same lines. I was a little disappointed when I found out. Frown


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Hi Caterwauller! Whilst I said similar I meant more the Canadian and the US accents as a whole. I've travelled a bit in your Country, the last time Louisiana and Texas, the previous time driving down from Toronto across the border through Michigan to Illinois- I have friends in Aurora- then down through Indiana to Kentucky up through Ohio, then through Pennsylvania to Maryland then finally cutting upwards through New York State, then finally back across the border at Buffalo, it's given me a chance to appreciate your fine country anyway!
Rambling aside, the point I'm trying to make is that the N. American accent(s) is distinctive as is the Australia/NZ accent too. You know where the people are from.Now assuming that most settlers at first were from the British Isles and also assuming that most were working class where generally the accents SEEM to have been much the same as they are now, you would have expected a sort of amalgham of those accents- but I don't think it is. I've known people here who've travelled and lived all over the UK and they've picked up varied speech habits from different parts, but they haven't started sounding like Americans! Curiously enough the Aussie accent does sound more or less what I would have expected from a hotch-potch of working class British accents- it does seem to have elements of Cockney, West Country and Irish among others in it. One would have thought the American accent to have ended up sounding rather similar to the Australian one, but it's not so.
I know there were many other people from other countries settling in the USA but I rather got the impression that the majority arrived late in the 19th and early 20th Centuries and by that time the speech manner would have already been well established.
 
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Just to take the thread a little further off-topic, I've been giving some thought to the Vikings going around raping and pillaging. It might be that the Vikings weren't so horny (sorry) as you might think. The original meaning of rape was "take away by force", "abduct", from the Latin word with that meaning, rapere. Cf Alexander Pope's poem The Rape of the Lock. The Sabine women weren't raped by the Romans in the modern meaning of the word; they abducted them and married them.


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Apparently the Vikings often settled down fairly quickly with their new women in their new homelands. The Viking Age was a result of too little land and too large a population at home, and the only option they had was to sail away and find a living elsewhere. Occupation: plunderer. Sex: Yes, please.

Normandy (North-men) gets its name from the Vikings who settled there after being bought off and given the area so they wouldn't do their annual raid on Paris; King Canute in England was a Danish Viking (Knut). Since English-speakers would naturally drop the "K" when pronouncing "Knut", it would be "King Nut." And of course no self-respecting king wants to be addressed as "Nut" (!) so it is spelled "Canute" in English in order to retain the correct pronunciation. And York in northern England was once called Jorvik (pron: YOR-veek, or, eventually, YOR-ikk and York). Take the Viking tour in York and you'll see no horns on THOSE denizens!

To conclude (forgive the detours), the Vikings were pillagers, yes, but they readily accepted domestication if the alternative were offered. Dublin, York, the Danelaw (area NE of London), and Normandy were all heavily occupied by Vikings, if not outright settled by them. Give Hagar a chance, and he'll lay down his sword and build a house. Well, maybe not HAGAR...
 
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... Normandy (North-men) gets its name from the Vikings who settled there after being bought off and given the area so they wouldn't do their annual raid on Paris ...


And they did have to be bought off - at great cost! All places in the east of England (nearest to Scandinavia and therefore where the Vikings had their greatest influence) paid their allotted sum of Danegeld in order to placate the Vikings. See here .

quote:
King Canute in England was a Danish Viking (Knut). Since English-speakers would naturally drop the "K" when pronouncing "Knut", it would be "King Nut." And of course no self-respecting king wants to be addressed as "Nut" (!) so it is spelled "Canute" in English in order to retain the correct pronunciation.


Modern English speakers do not pronounce the "k" in such words, but it was still going strong at the end of the 14th century, as was the final "e" at the end of words such as "goode".

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales shows such word forms very well.

The anonymous poem Gawain and the Green Knight, written in a different dialect from Chaucer's, still shows the old Saxon letter forms.

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Thanks Dianthus for those links- makes for interesting reading!
I somehow have managed to make this topic slide Viking-ward, sorry about that! At least they're a people worthy of study, the greatest seafarers of their day and a people who left their mark certainly in the place-names in Northern England. Travel across Yorkshire and you can see many reminders of their time here.

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Thanks Dianthus for those links- makes for interesting reading!


I'm interested in that sort of thing too. I did an English degree at Loughborough University as a mature student (I was 40 when I started it) from 1990-1993 and opted for Mediaeval Literature and also Linguistics because I love words themselves as well as what people do with them Smile.

quote:
I somehow have managed to make this topic slide Viking-ward, sorry about that!


That's OK - you should see how they hijack threads on the other forums I belong to (my screen name there is Sunflowers) Smile!

quote:
At least they're a people worthy of study, the greatest seafarers of their day and a people who left their mark certainly in the place-names in Northern England. Travel across Yorkshire and you can see many reminders of their time here.


Definitely - especially in place names and a lot of the dialect forms. As I said before, my ex-husband was in the RAF and he came from your neck of the woods and I spent a lot of time in Lincolnshire and East Anglia and he used to drag me on hiking holidays across Yorkshire, the Dales and the Lake District, so I know quite a bit about the various Scandinavian tribes who left their mark there Smile.
 
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I somehow have managed to make this topic slide Viking-ward, sorry about that!

Oh, never worry about that, Erik. That's what makes a great thread. We had one on "wives" once that went on forever! Wink

You'll have to consider coming to our Wordcraft Convention in October in Birmingham. We'll have good beer there! Cool
 
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At least they're a people worthy of study, the greatest seafarers of their day and a people who left their mark certainly in the place-names in Northern England.

I'm still terribly disappointed that they didn't wear horned helmets.

*pouting*


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Sorry that you're pouting, Caterwaller. However, if you were ever in Norway on a Saturday night, you'd see that the drinking habits have changed little! They're still Vikings at heart!
 
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I'm always amazed by by my 1/2way compatriots! How much is it for a Pint or 1/2 litre there now- £7-8? And they still enjoy a night out- good for them!
 
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I find it interesting that as the U.S. gets more into beer, we seem to be using the word pint for it a lot more. Even 5 years ago you wouldn't have seen signs in the U.S. for pints (I don't think), but you do all the time now.

A phraseology used by Richard on OEDILF caught my eye. He said: "I have had a think..." Is that common phraseology in England? It sure isn't here. We might say, "I have thought about it," or something similar.
 
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I find it interesting that as the U.S. gets more into beer, we seem to be using the word pint for it a lot more. Even 5 years ago you wouldn't have seen signs in the U.S. for pints (I don't think), but you do all the time now.


What did you say before then?

quote:
A phraseology used by Richard on OEDILF caught my eye. He said: "I have had a think..." Is that common phraseology in England? It sure isn't here. We might say, "I have thought about it," or something similar.


It's a common saying over here, but it's more of an informal usage.
 
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A phraseology used by Richard on OEDILF caught my eye. He said: "I have had a think..." Is that common phraseology in England? It sure isn't here. We might say, "I have thought about it," or something similar.

It's not really grammatical but it's a common enough idiomatic phrase in England.

And pints! What is even more interesting is that the better bars in the USA are not only selling beer by the pint, but are selling it by the Imperial pint, not that emasculated US thing!

I am very impressed by the strides the USA is taking in its rehabilitation into proper beer-drinking.


Richard English
 
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What did you say before then?

In the USA you just ask for "a beer". And what you get could be any amount oif liquid since there are no laws governing dispense quantities, so far as I have been able to determine.

In the UK, all beer, unless served in a sealed container (which must be marked with its capacity) must be sold in exact multiples of an Imperial pint. Failure so to do is a criminal offence.


Richard English
 
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What did you say before then?

Richard is right that we'd ask for a beer, or maybe a draft _____ or a bottle of ____ or we might say, "What's on tap/cask?" Then we'd ask for the specific beer, such as a Goose Island Pale Ale. Now in the better beer places, people will ask for a pint of whatever.

Richard is correct that the bars aren't accurate when filling the glasses. I remember when Richard was at Goose Island's Brewery with us, he asked the waiter if he could fit a shot of whiskey in the glass. The guy said yes, so Richard said, "Well, then, will you please fill my glass up with beer?" That happens all the time. The foam can be really high and the glass won't be filled to the top.
 
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If you get no joy, let me know and I'll have a real go at them!


Richard posted this on realbeer.com, referring to the Americans writing to CAMRA about starting a U.S. beer organization. This use of "joy," to mean "satisfaction," I have never seen.
 
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A question to our American friends. What exactly does 'Your Mother'or 'Your Momma'mean?- it's usually used as a retort, I've heard it in the odd movie but not that often. I always assumed it was short for 'Your mother wouldn't like that' or similar.
 
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Your momma / mother

It's similar to the Latin tu quoque, or plain old English, you, too, but stronger. It is viewed as coming from AAVE (African American Vernacular English), and in the movies, at least, it is usually followed by "You'd better not be talking about my mother." As with most pejorative idioms, it is probably best not used.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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In the sixties in the USA there was a spate of jokes that included "yo' momma." One example was "Yo' momma's so fat, they use the X on her T-shirt as a helicopter landing pad."
These were ostensibly insults to a guy's mom, but nobody took them that way. I have personally heard about twenty of them. I assume that's where it started.
 
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That's strange. I've never heard it used that way in American movies. It IS pejorative, but not in a serious way. It's usually humorously pejorative, if I may use that term.
 
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Originally posted by zmjezhd:
Your momma / mother

It's similar to the Latin tu quoque, or plain old English, you, too, but stronger. It is viewed as coming from AAVE (African American Vernacular English), and in the movies, at least, it is usually followed by "You'd better not be talking about my mother." As with most pejorative idioms, it is probably best not used.

You say it's African-American in origin which puzzles me a little as the recent movie I noticed the expression in was "American Graffiti" where the reply "Your Mother!" is given. "American Graffiti" was made in 1972/73 and set in 1962 (an aside here- a nostalgia movie made about events 10 years earlier? If we did it now- what,about 1996? On the other hand that decade, the 1960s, more changed in the USA more than any other decade- someone said that it was "the end of innocence".) Anyway, would a white person use an African-American expression in 1962?-Would it be even known that well in 1973?
 
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That's why I didn't agree that it was an African-American phrase, myself being white and hearing it used by white Americans back in the sixties. It was common to a fad-type of joke (see my earlier posting). And yes, whites can use black sayings and phrases - especially phrases that once were very risque but now are sanitized: "rock and roll" once meant sexual intercourse (rocking and rolling all night long); "loving spoonful" meaning...well, I'll leave it unsaid; and the sixties "sock it to me" was, well, I'll also leave THAT one unsaid. Especially in black jazz and blues from pre-WW II there were many sexual references camouflaged in the lyrics. People use them today without realizing what was being referred to back then.
 
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Anyway, would a white person use an African-American expression in 1962?-Would it be even known that well in 1973?


I don't know how anachronistic that particular utterance was, but American slang has been borrowing from African-American slang for at least a century.
 
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I did not say it was African-American in origin, I said it was mainly viewed as being that. Noticem also markmywords48's spelling of yo' momma. I'm curious, where does it occur in American Graffiti?


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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That was my point, although I perhaps didn't make it clear. In the end, the borrowing of Afro-American slang turns the slang into something innocuous and different in meaning from its original meaning/intent. As they said in the sixties, it gets "co-opted" and bland.
 
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The "Yo Momma" jokes are a type of "playing the dozens," or "signifying" (slang). The Mavens' Word of the Day says "the dozens" dates at least to the 1910s and is probably much older. The Scottish flyting and the "cussing contests" of nineteenth century American cowboys were similar "games."

Here are some definitions from the OED:
quote:
the dozens: a Black American game or ritualized exchange of verbal insults, usu. about the family (esp. the mother) of one's opponent or opponents: (see quot. 1984 and to play the dozens s.v. PLAY v. 16e); to put (etc.) in the dozens: to subject to or involve in this form of exchange. Cf. SIGNIFY v. 8, SOUND v.1 3d.

1984 Maledicta 1983 VII. 183 Many cultures have cursing and counter-cursing games, such as the Black American ‘dozens’. The purpose of the dozens is to test the participants' ability to take abuse without reacting. The participants must have a response, they must not show hurt, and they must not react with violence.

play, v. 16
e. to play the dozens: to engage in a bout of verbal insults and ridicule with one or more other people: used of a ritualized form of dialogue customary among American Blacks.

1933 E. CALDWELL God's Little Acre x. 142 If you want to play the dozens, you're at the right homestead.

signify, v.
8. intr. U.S. slang (chiefly Blacks'). To boast or brag; to make insulting remarks or insinuations.

sound, v. 1
3. d.
Black English. = to play the dozens s.v. PLAY v. 16e; to sound on (someone): to taunt, to criticize (someone). Cf. sense 13 below.
1962 R. D. ABRAHAMS in Jrnl. Amer

13. To taunt. Cf. sense 3d above. U.S. slang. rare.

Tinman

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Just when I think I've learned everything about British English, I hear a new one. Richard sent me an email and mentioned "morning suit." We had been talking about the storage of wedding gowns, so I assume it to mean "tuxedo," right? Then he said that when he was married, he "hired" his. We'd never say that; we'd say rented. Also, do you spell "dying" as "dieing?"

Someday, I'll know all the nuances between American and British English. Wink
 
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We have Dinner Jackets too, which I suppose you would also call a tuxedo.

We never spell "dying" as "dieing" (unless it was pre-18th century before our spelling finally settled down and started to obey rules and conventions). However, "dye" retains its "e" and becomes "dyeing".
 
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Di,

We seem to have ended up with four posts from you, all saying the same thing. I've deleted the first three. Razz

K,

We 'rent' houses, but most other things like clothes, cars, etc. are 'hired'. However, under the influence of American outlets like Blockbuster Videos we nowadays often talk of 'renting a video'.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Originally posted by zmjezhd:
I did not say it was African-American in origin, I said it was mainly viewed as being that. Noticem also markmywords48's spelling of yo' momma. I'm curious, where does it occur in American Graffiti?


Near the beginning when the John Milner character starts cruising in the yellow '32 Ford Coupe, he has a conversation with a guy in a '36 Ford which starts with "Where's your flathead?" and ends with the lad in the '36 saying "Your mother!" which has always puzzled me a little to say the least!
 
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PS Being a hot-rodder I do know what 'flathead'means! I suspect none of the other English posters do though!(Not without looking it up anyway!)
 
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I didn't notice the extra posts and I'm not sure how it happened, but thanks anyway Arnie Smile.
 
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Also, do you spell "dying" as "dieing?"

You do when you make a mistake because you're in a rush to catch a train. Funnily enough, though, my Outlook spell-checker let it through.

And yes, I do know what a "flathead" is, although my motorcycle has a four valve hemi.


Richard English
 
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Aha, I forgot about you Richard! I should have remembered your motoring and technological bent. Generally though if over this side of the Atlantic it's hardly a well known term. I know the street/hot rod set still use it as there's still some enthusiasts of the old engines who delight in finding and using old speed equipment from the '30s, '40s and '50s but I don't know of the term is used by the classic car people across here, it's usually referred to as a 'sidevalve'. What sort of motorcycle do you have?
 
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A lady yesterday accidentally drove out of a car park straight into a lake. Asked why, she answered "I must have been having a blonde moment". I assume that the Americans here know what she meant?

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