Saturday, 22 May 2010

Uk and USA: two countries separated by the same language

No prizes for attributing that quote, according to google it might be Oscar Wilde, or George Bernard Shaw, or even Churchill - but it's true.

One example: I recently had a temper tantrum, as my team-mates will attest, and apologised later for "spitting the dummy"...only to find they didn't know what I meant.

UK dummy = USA pacifier, does that help? The baby is so furious he won't accept the dummy being popped back in.

Measurements are something else I had trouble with. Being a lady "of a certain age" I grew up with inches. when I trained to teach I had to switch to those newfangled centimetres, but still "think" in inches. To me, that's a sign of my age, and old-fashioned - so I listed in centimetres. Imagine my shock when I discovered USA don't use cm but have remained loyal to inches. Not only that...but they even spell centimeter differently!

p&p - mean anything to you? As a Brit, it automatically means "postage and packing" ... but my USA customers don't understand it. they use s&h (shipping and handling)

Just when you thought you could cope with international selling?


and so it goes...have fun! What's your favourite (favorite?) miscommunication between two languages?


joy said...

I described something as being "pants", the modern day meaning being a bit rubbish, then had great difficulty in getting an american correspondent to even realize that it wasn't undergarments (english) or trousers (american).

Heather Leavers said...

oh no - this mutual language is full of problems!

Aileen Clarke Crafts said...

My American English Mozilla Firefox spell checker tries to get me to change this every time I type it!

And don't get me started on Fanny!

Jane Carlstrom said...

As always Nifty, an interesting and thought provoking commentary. So enjoy reading your blog.

sassypackrat said...

Yes we are in inches country and have a heck of a time with centimeters. As a lady of a certain age myself I remember in school when the US decided to switch to the metric system and what a nightmare and failure that was!

Most of what I have trouble figuring out is your slang for things and I'm sure ours are just as puzzling to you!

Unknown said...

haha, I love your blog - and as I am new to etsy I guess it is something I will have to think more about :)

eyeslikesugar said...

I prefer favourite and colour, but being in the states, university teachers have marked points off on papers for that spelling!!! It's a habit now, and I hate that I get lower marks for spelling them that way.

doodypops said...

I also am in the states, and notice some peculiarities with Canadian spelling- imagine how in between they must feel! (I think this is the first time anyone cared!) My mom being from Newfoundland and Dad English but second gen . I appreciate the other spellings and use them at times. Imagine feeling naughty saying 'pants' heehee!
I also grew up learnng inches, then they tried to switch us to metric in the 1970's in elementary school.
Well, now I cannot approximate the measurement of anything!

Waterrose said...

I love all of the differences in language and slang...although it does make things difficult when transacting