Monday, May 23, 2016

British and American Word Differences You Might Not Know (Part 2)


In 
what is the second part in an ongoing series, here are 5 more British and American word differences you might not know.

1. Bonnet vs. Hood
So abundant are its word differences, the automobile probably deserves an entire list to itself. Thankfully, I've got you covered. But while many people are aware that the storage compartment at the rear end (we're still talking about cars, you filthy minded creatures) of the car is described as a boot and a trunk in Britain and America respectively, it is a lesser-known fact that the countries cannot agree on its frontal equivalent (again, we're talking about cars. That said, if sex-related word differences are your thing, I've got you covered (not like that)). That's because what the British call a bonnet, the Americans call a hood

2. Lady bird vs. Lady bug
Unlike several other insects whose names I'll not mention, this famously spotty creature bears similar physical characteristics on either side of the Pond. However, despite the fact that 36th President Lyndon B. Johnson was married to a First Lady of the same name, the British use of lady bird is not common in America, where they almost always say lady bug.

3. Torch vs. Flashlight
This difference, perhaps more than any other, really shines a light on just how mad the English language is. While the others in this list have shown flashes of brilliance here and there, they can't hold a candle to this entry. Man, that last pun didn't even work. Either way, the British call this battery operated flashing device a torch, whereas Americans call it a flashlight.

4. Cling film vs. Saran wrap or plastic wrap
Since people (usually boys) like to play sophomoric toilet seat pranks on people and also since leftovers are a thing, this particular product is essential to our daily lives. But few of us actually realize that, not only do Americans not call it cling film, they also replace the term with Saran wrapBecause nothing screams capitalism more than using a brand name to universally describe a singular kitchen product.

5. Trainers vs. Sneakers
For any of my readers who are into outdoor sporting activities or who simply don't own dress shoes, this entry may well be familiar. Whether you're wearing Nike, Adidas, or Reebok (is Reebok still a thing?), you are likely to own a pair of running shoes. If you happen to be traveling from Britain to America, you would do well to remember that Americans don't refer to said shoes as trainers, but as sneakers - a word first attested in 1895 and one that sounds like a collective term for your 10-year-old's stealthy group of friends: the sneakers.  


Sometimes, it's better hearing me in a British accent. Click the red button below.


Laurence Brown is a British man writing his way through the truly bizarre world of America - a place he sometimes accidentally calls home and a place he still hasn't quite figured out after seven years. Thankfully, his journey is made 12% easier by the fact that his accent makes him sound much smarter than he is. For evidence of this, subscribe to his popular Lost in the Pond web series over on YouTube.

2 comments:

Sub-Elite said...

In TX it's unusual to hear "sneakers". We mostly call them "tennis shoes".

Unknown said...

As Sub-Elite has mentioned, in the West.. Colorado and Washington we don't refer to them as sneakers as much as tennis shoes. It's changed in my 50 years here. You are likely to hear both as people so often migrate West. This expat and his sister had to attend "speech class" to learn to speak ENGLISH correctly when we first got here in 2nd grade. While they'd never put children through this now (it was quite cruel) as multiculturalism and rights of the individual are seen much differently. That woman about hit my sister with her incessant corrections of cougar vs cooga. The rolling of the R's is most important you see. No worries if you come over prior to adolescence while attending school. You lose any trace of an accent and for the life of me CANNOT (as much as I'd like) fake a British accent. Fun site.

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