Thursday, November 06, 2014

11 British Clothing Words they Don't Use in America

There's no getting around it—clothes are just an important part of everyday life. We put them on when we wake up, we change into new ones before a night out and sometimes, when we're desperate, we even wear them to bed (just me then). And so there's a fair bet that, in some way or another, clothes are going to come up quite routinely in conversation. For U.K. expats such as myself, this can be a source of confusion and hilarity when the conversation's other participant is American. This is because, as you might have guessed from the title, there are a number of U.K. clothing words that are either not used stateside or are, at the very least, not very common. Here are 11 such words.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

10 American Words Not Widely Used In Britain | F

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Continuing our series of alphabetised words and phrases common to the U.S. that are not widely used in the UK, here are 10 such words beginning with the letter 'F'.

Friday, October 17, 2014

This Spelling Variation Might Leave Some Americans Feeling a Little "Disorientated"

Earlier this week, I sat down to watch a series 6 episode of Doctor Who. During one particular scene, the Doctor uttered a word that, for whatever reason, did not altogether rest easy on my ear.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Why Don't Americans Spell "Pyjamas" Like the Rest of the English-Speaking World?

You might call them jammies. Perhaps you prefer jim-jams. Or maybe you're more hip than the rest of us and opt for P.J.s. Whatever you call them, it's likely your pet name for sleeping garments is tied to the word pyjamas. Unless, that is, you're American.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why Brits Need to Stop Taking Issue with American -er Word Endings

Continuing my defence (or is it defense?) of American English, allow me to shift focus to a topic that remains very close to my heart: American -er word endings. For whatever reason, many of my British compatriots like to point their sticks—with varying degrees of earnestness—at these American spellings in particular. The most widely attacked, and perhaps the most well-known examples, are meter, center and theater (as opposed to the British spellings metre, centre, and theatre).

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

34 American Homophones Not As Common in British English


Being the wonderfully complex language that it is, English is replete with groups of words that are pronounced the same way but with totally different meanings (such as to and two). These words are known as homophones and are present in both British English and American English (and all other forms of English!). However, for the purposes of this article, let's talk about those homophones used widely in AmE that are far less common in BrE.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Why Americans Pronounce "Tuesday" Differently to the British

A less-covered but nonetheless noticeable difference between British and American English is the pronunciation of the initial consonant in words like "Tuesday." Most Brits—just as they do with words like tune, Tunisia, or tulip—pronounce this syllable as a ch-sound (tʃ), while Americans—in nearly all cases—pronounce it with a t-sound (t). In other words, the British pronounce "Tuesday" as TYOOZday (tju:zdeɪ) or CHOOZday (tʃu:zdeɪ), while the Americans opt for TOOZday (tu:zdeɪ). The reason for this is actually quite a nuanced one. However, before I get to that, let's take a look at another example, as well as some exceptions that prove the rule.

Monday, July 28, 2014

14 Words and Phrases Coined During WWI that are Still Used Today

Today marks the 100-year anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. Despite it being one of the deadliest wars in human history, it was nonetheless linguistically significant for the following reason: it gave the English language a plethora of new words.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I Do Have a British Accent and I'm Never Going to Shut Up About It

I have often heard it said that there is no such thing as a British accent, that Britain is made up of many different accents (and dialects) from England, Scotland, and Wales.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Why We Use The Terms 'British English' and 'American English'

"British English is an American term and therefore is not a word."

The above sentence was an actual comment left beneath one of my posts by a user called "Anonymous." Among his or her many other enlightening points, this one stuck with me the most. Just why do writers such as myself, who take great satisfaction in researching UK/US language differences, not simply refer to all forms of the language as "English"?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

8 American Words Not Widely Used In Britain | E

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Continuing our series of alphabetised words and phrases common to the U.S. that are not widely used in the UK, here are 8 such words beginning with the letter 'E'.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

British/American History: Churchill, Truman, and Stalin Meet At Potsdam Conference - JULY 17, 1945

On this day in 1945, the Potsdam Conference—sometimes known as Berlin Conference of the Three Heads of Government of the USSR, USA and UK—got underway to determine the fate of Nazi Germany following the conditional surrender of the country.

British/American History: The Battle of Stony Point - JULY 16, 1779

On this day in 1779, a select group of George Washington's Continental Army troops—under the leadership of General "Mad Anthony" Wayne—executed a nighttime attack on British forces at Stony Point, New York (30 miles north of New York City).

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Acclimatise Versus Acclimate: Which Came First?

Representing something of an irony, one of the first British/American word differences that truly struck me after moving to the U.S. was acclimatise vs. acclimate. The former—acclimatise—is the predominantly British English (BrE) variation on the word (meaning to "become accustomed to a physical or mental change"), while the latter is used predominantly in American English (AmE). Like many Brits, I initially assumed that the AmE variation was simply an extension of the already existing BrE variation. How wrong I was.

Monday, July 14, 2014

British/American History: Georgia Re-Admitted to the Union - JULY 15, 1870

144 years ago today, the state of Georgianamed after King George II of Great Britainwas re-admitted to the Union, having previously seceded as one of the original seven Confederate States.

Comparing UK/US Words and Phrases For Sleep

After working those long 8-hour days (cue French gloating), residents of both the UK and US are often very keen to commit an equal number of hours toward recharging their batteries. It's hardly surprising then that both countries offer up a plethora of words and phrases pertaining to the act of sleeping.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

British/American History: Scottish Explorer Alexander Mackenzie Concludes Journey to "Disappointment River" - JULY 14, 1789

225 years ago today, Scottish explorer Alexander Mackenzie reached the mouth of a river system in north-western Canada that he believed would lead to the Pacific; however, he was in for a major disappointment..

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Brazil 2014: The World Cup Widow’s Guide to Surviving It Stateside


When we flew across the Atlantic from London to Maryland in August 2012 I remember this conversation very clearly as we took a break between inflight movies.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

8 English Places and Their U.S. Namesakes

They say that the United States is a nation of immigrants. Of course, historically, a good percentage of these immigrants came from the fair shores of England and, whether they came here on the Mayflower or on later expeditions, there was something these colonialists liked to do a lot: name towns and cities after places back home.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

10 Interesting Facts That Show The UK's Population in an American Context

As of 2012, the population of the UK stood at roughly 63,705,000, compared to the United States, which consisted of about 318,059,000 people in 2013. I thought it would be interesting to show various UK populations (both past and present) in relation to a selection of U.S. demographics (again, historical and present day). And so, here are 10 amazing facts that show the UK's population in an American context.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

17 American Words Not Widely Used In Britain | D

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Continuing our series of alphabetised words and phrases common to the U.S. that are not widely used in the UK, here are 17 such words beginning with the letter 'D'.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

10 British Words for ‘Making Out’

Guest post by Claire Bolden McGill: 10 British Words for ‘Making Out’

1. Snogging
This is the British version of ‘making out’. Known as being a common term among the Brits, but for Americans it’s like a piece of verbal candy. It is deemed a ‘lusty and hearty’ type of kiss. It’s often performed in night clubs, or in shop doorways, or in town centre bus shelters in the UK after several alcopops have been consumed.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Study: Why Do Some Americans Say 'Normalcy' Instead of 'Normality'?

As a part-time linguist (not my official job title) and as a lifelong speaker of the language, I have come to find that English is anything but normal. Conveniently enough, this is evidenced by the fact that—between British English (BrE) and American English (AmE)—the "state of being normal" is the precise definition of two separate words: normality and normalcy. The former is the variant used almost always by speakers of BrE, while American English speakers continue to sometimes use the latter.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

19 American Words Not Widely Used In Britain | C

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Continuing our series of alphabetised words and phrases common to the U.S. that are not widely used in the UK, here are 19 such words beginning with the letter 'c'.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

8 Differences Between UK vs USA School Terms and Practices

Guest post by Claire Bolden McGill: A Comparison of UK vs USA School Terms and Practices

This week in the USA it is ‘Teacher Appreciation Week’. When I received this note from my son’s elementary school, along with a long list of things we had to do to show our appreciation for the teachers, including giving flowers and food, I was a bit taken aback. It’s not really in our British nature to be overly-giving in this way (although I think there is a ‘Teacher Appreciation Day’ in the UK.) A mumbled ‘thank you’, a nod of appreciation and a firm handshake at the end of term might suffice, as far as some of us are concerned.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

24 American Words Not Widely Used In Britain | B

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Continuing an alphabetised list of words and phrases common to the U.S. that are not widely used in the UK, here are 24 such words beginning with the letter 'b'.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pictures of British Things and Places in Indianapolis

Here's a collection of pictures I took recently of some of the many homages to Great Britain located
in the city of Indianapolis. Periodically, I will be updating this page with more pictures, so stay tuned.

1. Red phone box
This old red phone box is situated along the Monon Trail outside Solomon and Jones Antiques.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

7 American Words Not Widely Used In Britain | A

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Kicking off an alphabetised list of words and phrases common to the US that are not widely used in the UK, here are 7 words from American English that don't usually see the light of day across the Pond.

Monday, April 14, 2014

[IMAGE]: You've Gotta Have Faith... or Not




Laurence is a British expat living in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a contributor for BBC America and has written for Anglotopia and Smitten by Britain. Having graduated from Lancaster University with a degree in English Language and Creative Writing, Laurence runs this blog, Lost In The Pond, charting the endless cultural and linguistic differences between Britain and The United States. 

Please follow Laurence by clicking on any of the icons below.


Thursday, April 03, 2014

Alan Partridge: A British Comedy Genius Who Has Yet to Crack America

Guest post by Claire Bolden McGill

Back of the net! Jackanory! Jurassic Park! Cash back! Smell my cheese!

These phrases are part of my vocabulary and they are due in part to my love and fascination of the man/legend that is Alan Partridge/Steve Coogan.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

William H. Macy Will Star in U.S. Remake of Doctor Who

Fox Entertainment Group has secured television rights to re-make the popular British TV series Doctor Who in a deal that will see 15 new episodes aired on the network early next year.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Comparison of British and American Sexual Euphemisms

Whether uttered jovially or derogatorily, euphemisms for sex have played a key role in the history of the English lexicon on both sides of the Pond for centuries. While many terms—passed from one country to the other—are the same in both the UK and U.S., each place nonetheless has its own separate—and often quite wonderful—list of sexpressions. It is these I will be focusing on throughout the article.

Monday, March 10, 2014

5 British Jarred Foods That Are Hard to Find in the U.S.

Regular readers of this blog will know I like to reminisce about certain mainstream British food items that are a scarce commodity in the United States. But occasionally, I also like to give remembrance to the littler guys; the jarred food items of this world.

5 British Slang Phrases for 'Dying' That Never Caught On in the U.S.

The Oxford scholar, Robert Burton, once wrote that "the fear of death is worse than death." Burton's reasoning might explain why humans are so good at coining euphemisms for the act of dying; over the years, there have been numerous phrases added to the English language for the very purpose of softening this inevitable part of life.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Why Brits Should Stop Giving Americans a Hard Time About Saying "Pants"

After reading the recent Buzzfeed article 21 Things British People Hate About Americans, I learned two very important lessons: 1) on Buzzfeed, twenty-one reactionary Twitter users can represent the whole of Britain, and 2) that twenty-one reactionary Twitter users need to stop giving Americans a hard time when it comes to language.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

12 U.S. States With the Highest Concentration of English Ancestry

Ever wondered how English your state is? Well you might want to look at these findings, taken from the U.S. census of 2000, which found that some 27 million Americans self reported having descended from English settlers.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

11 U.S. States That Are Larger Than the UK

With a total area of almost 3.8 million square miles, the United States is approximately 40 times the size of the United Kingdom, which itself is comprised of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Of the fifty states, there are exactly eleven that are large enough to housebearing in mind that we are taking liberties with shape and tectonicsthe entire area of the United Kingdom at least once.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

10 Food Items as Pronounced by Brits and Americans




Laurence is a British expat living in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a contributor for BBC America and has written for Anglotopia and Smitten by Britain. Having graduated from Lancaster University with a degree in English Language and Creative Writing, Laurence runs this blog, Lost In The Pond, charting the endless cultural and linguistic differences between Britain and The United States. 

Please follow Laurence by clicking on any of the icons below.


Tuesday, February 04, 2014

197 English Place Names Americans Might Have a Hard Time Pronouncing


Let me begin this post by stating that this article is not a slam against Americans. Indeed, a lot of the places listed below have such wild and mesmerising pronunciations that even an Englishman - one who isn't down with the local lingo - might struggle to say the names correctly. That said, I do get a lot of requests from American readers wanting to know why, for example, Worcester is pronounced WUSSTER and why the second w is not spoken in Warwick. 

Saturday, February 01, 2014

10 Famous Painters As Pronounced by Brits and Americans




Laurence is a British expat living in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a contributor for BBC America and has written for Anglotopia and Smitten by Britain. Having graduated from Lancaster University with a degree in English Language and Creative Writing, Laurence runs this blog, Lost In The Pond, charting the endless cultural and linguistic differences between Britain and The United States. 

Please follow Laurence by clicking on any of the icons below.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Brit in the USA: How To Keep In Touch With People Back Home

Many British expats—like me—can find themselves going years without seeing their friends and family back home. Whatever the reason—be it lack of finances or time—the prospect of hopping across the ocean can be problematic for some. It is vitally important, then, that we find other ways of maintaining contact with those across the Pond.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

17 British Slang Words and Phrases Most Americans Don't Understand

Guest post by Claire Bolden McGill: A List of 17 British Slang Words and Phrases Most Americans Don't Understand

I love a good old British colloquialism or slang phrase and I throw them in left, right and centre (center) when I am talking. This can lead to much confusion for my poor American friends. I often see their brows furrow as they try to make out exactly what I’m saying. I’ve learned to stop and translate now, but I think they’re rather fond of the abundance of British phrases and sayings that pop out willy-nilly (see?!) from my mouth.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Dear America, Led Zeppelin Were Not American

Dear America.

I am writing this letter in the hope that you will take into consideration something very close to my heart.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

5 British Food Combinations Americans Find Odd

Whenever I engage an American in conversation about British food, he or she will invariably find a hitherto unfamiliar dish - described by me in detail -  to be bizarre. This is particularly true during a discussion on food combinations. For whatever reason, America - the nation who thinks it's perfectly fine to put chili con carne on a bun - largely disapproves of our inter-nutritional meddling.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

15 Words And Phrases I Never Used Before I Came to America, by a British Expat

Guest post by Claire Bolden McGill: A list of 15 Words And Phrases I Never Used Before I Came to America

Monday, January 20, 2014

10 Driving Terms Used in Britain But Not The US

Any motorist that has braved the roads of both Great Britain and the United States will no doubt be familiar with the myriad of differences in driving terminology. It's not simply a case of learning to drive on an unfamiliar side of the road; you have to learn the lingo, the different names for roads signs, car parts and vehicle designated areas. The following is a list of 10 words and phrases used by British drivers not widely used in the US. In each case, I have included the American equivalent. (Note: for a longer - but less detailed - list of terms, see this cheat sheet).