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Picture of Kalleh
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Having Richard in Chicago this weekend made us see, even more, the differences between British and American English. I am sure that Shu and Richard, or some of the rest of you, can come up with many more. However, I was intrigued that the Brits don't use "regular" to mean "ordinary," i.e., an "regular" guy. They use it to mean "fixed intervals," such as "regular payments." Then, he says the English would never say, "I will meet you right here." They would say, "I will meet you here." Now, to me, the former is a little more precise. "Here" could mean in this general vicinity, while "right here" is by this door (or whatever). Of course we have talked about bonnet and boot before, but it was fun hearing them used in context. I remember Richard saying something about the "lift" while we were on the elevator...and seeing the smiles on the faces of the other riders. Big Grin
 
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We do say right here and right now, but the sentence you gave certainly sounds odd to my UK ears. I'm not sure why.

Likewise, we all know what a regular guy is, but that is probably from US films.

Americans of course use regular to describe the smallest cup of coffee or bag of chips you can get. What is wrong with saying small?
 
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Oh, Graham, don't even get me started on sizes here. I hate the sizes of coffees at Starbucks, and I won't even cooperate. I ask for a "small coffee," and they say, "do you mean a grande?" I say NO! I mean a "small."

And, of course we have "regular" gas.

In yesterday's Chicago Tribune, they reported American English that has evolved from "Friends," a TV show that I am told you have seen on occasion in the UK. However, I wonder if any of the lingo from that show has crossed the pond. Some of it I am not familiar with, even though I do watch the show.

Commando - We have discussed this here; going without underwear
Doing a Monica - Tightly wound up (though, I am not sure they defined this correctly. I remember it meaning making a mistake, and then Phoebe turning it around to meaning doing a good job.)
Doi - Duh (never heard of it)
Filter tip little buddy - cigarette (not sure I remember that)
Floopy - messed up (again, I think of it more to mean scattered or flaky)
Nippular area - Boobies
Nuh uh - No way
Oh. My. God! - Surprise! Shock! Fear!
Scunchy - crabby (I don't recall the reference)
She's his lobster - She's his love (to me, more than that; soul mate)
So not true - Not true (use of so for emphasis was common)
Testosteroney - Macho (more than that really; also on the make!)
Twirly - Manic
Yuh huh - Oh, yeah
Wee - Minute (again, I don't recall)
 
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One of the things most seared into my brain under the Death to Marketing list was seeing a tube of toothpaste extolled as 'with that great Regular taste'. Meaning it isn't the one that's minty-fresh or whatever, but they had to say something.
 
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'with that great Regular taste'
Good grief! (BTW, Richard tells me that is British, but I don't think so. I reminded him of Charlie Brown.)

Of course, there's regular coffee, too.
 
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Yesterday I paid $21.39 for ten U.S. gallons of regular gasoline.

To me it seemed more like a Premium price.

Several years ago, just after a trip to mainland America, I was filling my gasoline tank at a local station ("regular" was then $1.899). I mentioned to the station's owner that I had just come from Kansas, where regular gasoline was ninety-nine cents a gallon. He said, "Kansas always either too hot or too cold. Gotta have cheap gas to get anyone to go there."
 
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"Kansas always either too hot or too cold. Gotta have cheap gas to get anyone to go there."
It always amazes me to hear people's reasons for living (or not living) in different places. When I lived in California, literally no one could believe I would be so stupid so as to move to Chicago....because of the "bad weather." I love the changing seasons here and missed them terribly when I was in California. I remember Richard once telling me that he would have to live where there was good beer. While I have learned to like good beer, too, I would never give it a second thought if I were to move.

I suppose it is good that we all don't want to live in the same place. Wink
 
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Quote "...I remember Richard once telling me that he would have to live where there was good beer. While I have learned to like good beer, too, I would never give it a second thought if I were to move..."

How could you call it living if there were no good beer to drink?


Richard English
 
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Another difference: Richard brought Shu and I each a lovely pewter beer stein (or mug), engraved with our names. He called it a tankard, which is not a word we would normally use.
 
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In the UK a Stein is a different thing. That's a German drinking vessel, typically made from earthenware and holding up to a litre.

A tankard holds an Imperial pint or half pint and would rarely be made of anything except pewter - although glass versions are available.


Richard English
 
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I just realized that the "Friends" glossary above missed probably the most famous phrase of all:

"How YOU doin'" - A come on.

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Oh.....I have 2 more "Friendages":

Phalange (Not sure of the spelling!) - Phoebe's word when she needed to come up with one.

"We were on a 'break'!" - We had broken off our relationship!
 
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Wee is used in some areas of the UK, particularly Scotland and Northern Ireland, to mean "tiny", "small".


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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A recent Terry Pratchett Discworld® novel is called "The Wee Free Men".

It's relatively commonly heard over here.
 
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Though we don't use it that much, except maybe to imitate the Scotish language, "wee" means small here, too.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Richard English:
In the UK a Stein is a different thing...
A tankard holds an Imperial pint or half pint...

Or, as a famous woman once said, "A tankard is a tankard is a tankard is a tankard."


Also, "wee" is frequently heard over here in the world of children's literature although, sad to say, it's often used redundantly as in "a wee little cottage."
 
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I recently received an e-mail from someone in England (not connected to this board). He is coming to Chicago, and I said that he could stay with us. He then wrote back, "Brilliant!"

Now, I could see, "Excellent!" But, brilliant? Is that a UK use of the word? AHD cites "wonderful," as a definition, though it is way down the list of definitions. We might say "wonderful." However, I don't think an American (am I right people?) would say "brilliant" in that context.
 
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Kalleh,

"Excellent" describes the idea; "wonderful," as well.

"Brilliant" describes you.

In my view.

Too.
 
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Awww, you're sweet. And, another new look! I like it! Wink (That wink is about as close as I can get to looking sexy on this board! Red Face)
 
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"Brilliant" is one of many slang and colloquial usages of words meanig "good" or "very good".
It's quite common although it does depend where in the country you live.

Others include "wicked" and "crucial" (exclusively used by teenagers), "bostin'" (exclusive to my part of the country), "smashing" (rather dated nowadays) and many, many others. Perhaps someone would like to compile a list.

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PS. Was it Phil ?
 
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Yes, Bob. Unfortunately I don't have that many English friends!

Would you use "brilliant" that way?
 
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Brilliant, or its abbreviation, "brill" was very common when I was a lad. Like most youth slang it seemed to disappear as its users got older - only to be replaced by new (and equally facile) slang.

As I understand it, something I would have referred to as "brill" will be referred to by today's youth as "wicked".


Richard English
 
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I have a Liverpool friend, nearly fifty, who invariably replies to a good e-mail joke with one word: "Brill!" It's still in use, and perhaps will make a comeback among the "young."
 
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This is a pronunciation question, and it is about as common as "schedule" or "idea."

On Jaguar advertisements, they say, "jag-you-are." Is that actually how you pronounce it? We say "jag-w-are," or thereabouts.
 
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Kalleh,
I, too, have wondered why Jaguar... jagwar... is suddenly pronounced jag-u-are... In our school, we still call the animal a Jaguar... no one has told us differently... I think it sounds silly, myself...

But, remember, the Car-i-BE-an is now the Car-I-BE-an... or is that vice versa? Smile
 
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I say ["dZægju@] with a final schwa. I don't hear advertisements, nor frequent the rich, nor talk about cars, so don't know how common the other two pronunciations ["dZægjua:] and ["dZægwa:] are.
 
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I'd pronounce it "Jag-u-a". The final syllable is a schwa sound.


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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I'm with arnie.
 
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Now I am more confused than before because of aput's and arnie's replies! A "schwa" sound? I am not sure I follow aput's explanation. It isn't always easy to write about pronunciations.

Oh, BTW, I don't frequent the rich nor talk about cars, either, aput. We have a very reliable Honda Accord, which I hear is a lot more reliable than those finicky Jaguars (glad I can write it and don't have to say it!). When I listen to NPR (National Public Radio), they often advertise Jaguars. The man speaking about them has a wonderful English accent, thus the question.
 
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Schwa.

It's a sort of unstressed "uh" sound.


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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From Dictionary.com: A mid-central neutral vowel, typically occurring in unstressed syllables, as the final vowel of English sofa
Confused Can it be any vowel? It sounds like it, but then, arnie, you say it is an "unstressed 'uh' sound." This may be one of those times when I am not going to get it until I actually hear it.

How do you know when a word (such as Jaguar) has it and when it doesn't? I tried to look up other "uar" endings of words to see if the pronunciations are always the same with that ending, but there aren't many of them.
 
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How do you pronounce the "a" in sofa, then?

If you are unsure of the way to pronounce a word the only sure way to find out is to look it up in a dictionary. Alas, the many foibles of English mean that it is impossible to tell for certain from the spelling, as with most other languages.

Dictionary.com gives a pronunciation key, although the two ways it gives differ slightly from the way I would pronounce the word, personally. Its source is, of course, the AHD, which presumably only gives the main American pronounciations.


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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There is no convenient English respelling for the schwa. I prefer to use 'a' when possible, so JAG-yoo-a, trusting people will read the unstressed vowel as in sofa, not as in bra. But 'a' is equivocal.

The only other common respelling is 'uh', but that has the to me huge disadvantage that it doesn't occur in English, so it's not really obvious what to do with it. I tend to read it as 'u' as in 'but', and this is reinforced by the emphatic use of it in Dilbert's 'ind-uh-vidual'. The hesitation noise as in 'Uh, I don't think so' has no definite pronunciation: it's variable enough that it's not really a help.

Schwa: weak vowel as in 'about', 'sofa' -- but even then, in the modern accent of southern England 'sofa' has an 'ah' vowel, not a schwa.
 
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I do say "sof ah," much like the "o" in Bob. Where is the weak vowel sound in "about?" I say "ab out." Now, I know the Canadians say "aboot."
 
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Most English speakers use the same vowels at the end of sofa and the beginning of about. In SAMPA: /'soUf@/ and /@'baUt/. I have never heard any native English speaker say the {a} in about as anything other than a schwa. My grandmother had an eccentric pronunciation of sofa as /so'fa/ with the accent on the final syllable, but that was from the Italian pronunciation. Remember, English orthography (aka spelling) has little to do with pronunciation of a word.
 
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As I said, we have a Brit staying with us. He was talking about riding on the "ground" to me, and I had no idea what he was saying. Oh...the Brits don't pronounce their "h's" according to him, so what he was saying "Greyhound." When don't the Brits pronounce "h?"

Also, his shirt, "Legalize Conkers" left Shu and me blank. Conkers are a nut from a tree, I think he said?

lastly, we discussed "water coolers." Now, I would say "water fountains." Others may call them "bubblers" as sometimes the water bubbles up in certain kinds of water fountains. Anyway, Phil says they were invented in the U.S., though the U.K. does have them now. Is that true, Richard?
 
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Quote "... Oh...the Brits don't pronounce their "h's" according to him, so what he was saying "Greyhound." When don't the Brits pronounce "h?"..."

Some dialects, notably Cockney, tend to drop the initial "h" and sometimes other hs so that Greyhound would be pronouced something like "Grey'ahnd"

This is not normally considered a desirable trait in "better" circles, although now even the BBC accepts it from some correspondents.

Conkers are a variety of chestnut, although not edible. Correctly Horse Chestnuts they are very common in England and we'd probably have walked past some in Hyde Park.

I don't know whon invented water-coolers but it probably wasn't us! The idea of having iced water with every meal is not common in the UK, even now. And there are still many offices that don't have water coolers, although they are, as Phil says, becoming more common.

I confess I don't see the need - did you ever see me drink any of that iced water that was given to me at every meal? No siree. Not when there was good beer to drink!


Richard English
 
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Conkers are the seeds of the common horse-chestnut, Aesculus hippocastanum. Species of Aesculus native to Europe and Asia are called horse-chestnuts while those native to the U.S.A. are called buckeyes. The British often drop the "horse" and just call them chestnuts. The Chestnut genus, however, is Castanea and is not closely related to Aesculus.

Longfellow's poem, The Village Blacksmith, is referring to Aesculus when it says, "Under a spreading chestnut-tree the village smithy stands; ..." Mel Torme's The Christmas Song is talking about Castanea: "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire ..."

Conkers was, and still is, a child's game. Here's how the OED Online describes it:

"A boys' game, played originally with snail-shells (see quot. 1877) but now with horse-chestnuts, in which each boy has a chestnut on a string which he alternately strikes against that of his opponent and holds to be struck until one of the two is broken."

Here's a description from the Royal Forestry Society. And I bet Richard can give you a first-hand account of the game.

You've probably seen horse-chestnuts, Kalleh. They are naturalized in much of the eastern U.S. Here are pictures of the seed and of the tree in bloom.

Tinman
 
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Playing conkers is indeed an important part of the life of almost every small boy in England. Much care is taken over tracking the number of successes each particular conker has had, and they are known as "fivers", "tenners", and so on. Much ingenuity goes in attempting to develop an all-conquering conker, with lads baking them in the oven, pickling them in brine, and trying other tricks to harden them.

My home had a conker tree in the back garden, so I had a particularly good source of supply. Most of the others would throw sticks up into the branches of the neighbouring trees in an attempt to knock down the seed cases, a practice that was not very popular with the trees' owners, for understandable reasons. My dad used to regularly chase kids who were after conkers away from our garden.


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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Most of the regional dialects of England lack an [h] sound, but it's still present in the general South-Eastern accents.

Its distribution is rather puzzling. From the fact that all the colonial accents, Australasian as well as American, have [h], you'd expect that it occurred in England too up till recently, perhaps 1750~1800. Evidence on this side is that there seems to be no record of h-dropping being stigmatized before that period.

But the fact that almost all accents in England have lost it indicates a surprisingly rapid spread (and demotic London speech wasn't imitated all across the country back then); or it indicates that the first story is wrong, and the change was going on for some time.

There is a bit of evidence in Shakespeare for example that h was silent, at least some of the time or for some accents. So if h-dropping was a familiar London variant back then, it's still hard to explain how and when it managed to spread all across England but not into any other English-speaking countries (Wales and Australia do it a little bit, but it's not general).

So, however it spread, the question is why don't all the English drop their [h]'s? Why do so many of us still say them? The educated accent RP retains them, but so does Estuary, the popular accent of the South-East. But the inner London accent Cockney is one of the regional accents that drops them. So it's not simply educated influence, nor London influence, driving either the loss or the retention. It's a long-standing puzzle, in fact.
 
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So, however it spread, the question is why don't all the English drop their [h]'s? Why do so many of us still say them?
Hmm, that is an interesting question, aput. I don't think any U.S. accent drops their "h's," though I am not as sure of those on the east coast.

I confess I don't see the need - did you ever see me drink any of that iced water that was given to me at every meal? No siree. Not when there was good beer to drink!


Well, Richard, from a health standpoint everyone needs water, and while beer can meet some of those needs, it is also a diuretic. I found this water calculator online that shows that I need ten 12-oz glasses of water daily (or 120 ounces). That's not peanuts!
 
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Quote "...It's a long-standing puzzle, in fact..."

Indeed. I was trying to put the matter simply but it's not a simple matter. The upper crust of society also drop their hs - but in a different way. Furthermore, they sometimes add hs when they aren't needed.

I recall overhearing a very "country" lady back in the 1950s when the "pony tail" was very popular with teenagers. She said, "I don't like these "pony tails" on gels. They make their 'eads look like an 'oss's harse*"

*harse = arse = ass or butt


Richard English
 
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Quote "...I found this water calculator online that shows that I need ten 12-oz glasses of water daily (or 120 ounces). ..."

That's terrible and very frightening. I must definitely change my habits right away.

I swear I'll never look at another calculater


Richard English
 
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RE,
Kalleh is concerned about your 'ydration 'abits...
Forget the beer.. drink Aitch2O...Smile
 
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Remind me, when I have a little more time, to tell you what W C Fields had to say about water...


Richard English
 
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2 from QT in the Chicago Sun Times:

"The 'Frequently Asked Questions' section of the British Web site for the rental of graduation caps and gowns includes the question, 'What does "Height" mean?'"

"According to a British police training manual, blacks who have 'prejudices' relating to whites and 'act on these' should not be thought of as racist but instead are afflicted with 'reactive racism.'"
 
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RE, I googled WC Fields.. and found this:


W C Fields: (Rationale for not drinking waterSmile "Fish f*ck in it."

Other funnies: "Say anything that you like about me except that I drink water. "

"Water rusts pipes." (His reasoning for not drinking water)

"Christmas at my house is always at least six or seven times more pleasant than anywhere else. We start drinking early. And while everyone else is seeing only one Santa Claus, we'll be seeing six or seven." Smile
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
2 from QT in the Chicago Sun Times:
"According to a British police training manual, blacks who have 'prejudices' relating to whites and 'act on these' should not be thought of as racist but instead are afflicted with 'reactive racism.'"


Isn't the one-way nature of the word racist universal then?
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
I don't think any U.S. accent drops their "h's," though I am not as sure of those on the east coast.

I have a friend who was raised back east (Pennsylvania and New York, I think) who drops the h from human and humor.

From the AHD Online:

Usage Note: The word herb, which can be pronounced with or without the (h), is one of a number of words borrowed into English from French. The (h) sound had been lost in Latin and was not pronounced in French or the other Romance languages, which are descended from Latin, although it was retained in the spelling of some words. In both Old and Middle English, however, h was generally pronounced, as in the native English words happy and hot. Through the influence of spelling, then, the h came to be pronounced in most words borrowed from French, such as haste and hostel. In a few other words borrowed from French the h has remained silent, as in honor, honest, hour, and heir. And in another small group of French loan words, including herb, humble, human, and humor, the h may or may not be pronounced depending on the dialect of English. In British English, herb and its derivatives, such as herbaceous, herbal, herbicide, and herbivore, are pronounced with h. In American English, herb and herbal are more often pronounced without the h, while the opposite is true of herbaceous, herbicide, and herbivore, which are more often pronounced with the h.

Tinman

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