1. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Differences in UK/US/Canadian/Australian English

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Tenderiser, Feb 20, 2017.

    I'm English and write books with English characters for a US audience. I know there are other authors on here writing for audiences in other countries.

    I thought we could keep a running list of words with regional variations, both in spelling and in word usage (like car park and parking lot). I'll add to this opening post whenever there are replies. I can only speak for my part of the UK (London and the South East) and I don't know much Canadian or Australian English, so please jump in and help me out. :)

    Forum members should be able to comment on this spreadsheet with their additions / changes by right clicking a cell and choosing Add Comment, but I'm not great with Gdocs so let me know of any issues:



    Other

    Blocks: There's no good UK equivalent of "I ran four blocks" or "The shop is four blocks away." We would just say "I ran X miles" or "The shop is a 10 minute walk away."

    Cars: Cars in the UK (and Europe) are smaller, on average, than in the US, although bigger cars are becoming more common. Most cars are manual (shift stick) although, again, automatics are becoming more common.

    Fix: In the UK, this only means 'to mend.' We wouldn't say, "I'll fix you a sandwich,"; we'd say "I'll make you a sandwich."

    Kitchens: Very few UK homes have garbage disposals in the sink. Coffee machines aren't rare, but not ubiquitous either. Nearly all UK homes have an electric kettle.

    Quite: In the UK this usually means "a bit", whereas in the US it usually means "a lot." If a UK character says a movie is "Quite good," don't rush to buy a ticket.

    Time: In the UK we might say "It's half eight" meaning "It's eight-thirty."

    Tipping: A UKer who doesn't tip in a restaurant is not necessarily cheap or rude, so don't use this as a form of characterisation. Restaurant staff here are paid the same minimum wage as everyone else, and tipping isn't expected.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
  2. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

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    I've only noted words that are different from either UK or US.
    Note: words between '<' and '>' are optional.

    Bin (UK)
    - trash can (US) garbage <can> (CAN)
    Fizzy drink (UK) -
    soda (US) pop (CAN)
    Kitchen roll (UK) -
    kitchen towel (US) paper towel(s) (CAN)

    And here are a few I came up with:
    glove compartment (CAN/US) glove box (UK, although it's becoming more popular in CAN/US since PBS started airing UK shows)
    diaper (CAN/US) nappie (UK but not sure on spelling)
    flashlight (CAN/US) torch (UK)
     
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  3. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    Isn't it stick shift?
     
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  4. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    Nappy, plural nappies.
     
  5. ajaye

    ajaye Senior Member

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    We tend to align a lot with the UK but a couple of differences -

    Fizzy drink (UK) - soda (US) - Soft drink (Aus)
    Jogging bottoms (UK) - sweatpants (US) - Track pants (Aus) or Tracky Dacks (very Aus)

    and one that always sounds wrong without that s :) -

    Maths (Aus) - Math (US) - ??? (UK)
     
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  6. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I don't know - can an American confirm?
     
  7. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Yeahh, this is already looking messy. @Daniel , @Wreybies, any ideas for presenting this? I think I can embed a Google sheet but that's probably hard to navigate...
     
  8. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Definitely stick shift, not shift stick. Just to add, though, we also happily use manual or manual transmission.

    ETA: Also, most common to hear these trimmed down to the one word:

    "I can't drive your car. It's a stick."

    "Really? Ted told me you could drive a manual."​
     
  9. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Also garbage can is perfectly serviceable in the U.S. as well.
     
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  10. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Also, soda, pop, soda pop, soft drink, cola, Coke (regardless of brand, dark or clear) are highly, highly regional across the length and breadth of the U.S. It's one of those words we like to talk about amongst ourselves when someone from a different slice of the U.S. happens to be present.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    I should point out that "fanny" in North American English typically refers to "buttocks". Since the UK definition is there, you might want to include the NA one (though fanny pack being does imply the NA definition).
     
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  12. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Squirty cream? Really? :ohno::-D This will leave the average USian giggling uncontrollably for the same reason that fanny pack might have the same effect in the U.K. It sounds terribly sexual to these Yankee ears.
     
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  13. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I think it would be the clearest way, though. I don't think it would be too hard to nav.
     
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  14. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Great stuff! I've added/changed all of these and also put in some more I thought of. Please keep correcting me if I get US stuff wrong.

    Trying to get a lemonade in a Coke state must be a book in itself. :D

    Yeahhhh I had a kid asking for squirty cream for breakfast and my American CP was all "WHY IS A KID ASKING FOR SPUNK?"

    I took it out.
     
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  15. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Nope, easy enough. But it most certainly won't be fizzy.

    Lemonade in the UK = fizzy
    Lemonade in the US = flat

    ;)
     
  16. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    But but but -ade means carbonated! ...doesn't it?
     
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  17. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    I'm on my phone, so quoting just the piece I want is a pain in the ass...

    At the top of the post it has "Apartment Block" for American English, and I've never heard this.

    It's an apartment complex.
     
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  18. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    In the US ade most certainly does not mean carbonated. :)

    It's actually the opposite. If a drink ends in ade, 9.8 times out of 10 it's not carbonated.
     
  19. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    Fascinating! I love seeing all the different kinds of English--it's amazing how different they can be! I noticed some things in the US "translation" you might want to add to (or fix). I'm from southeast Virginia, if that matters at all.
     
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  20. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    @Elven Candy What do you call a theatre where plays are performed?
     
  21. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    While this is an acceptable term, most people in the US would just call it a glove box. Compartment sounds very formal to me.
    A kitchen towel is one of the rags that hang on the handle of your oven to wipe up water off the sink and dry dishes. We call the paper ones paper towels.

    It's really only in the south that people would say (commonly) "fix" as to make. You'd next to never hear that anywhere I've lived.
     
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  22. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Okay, I put it in Google docs and it's embedded in the first post. I've sorted it A-Z from the first column for now; doesn't look like people can sort it within the post, which is a shame.

    Edit: Got round that by creating four sheets in the workbook: each is identical but sorted A-Z by a different country's words.
     
  23. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Nope. In the U.S. an -ade is almost never carbonated. The suffix also has a particular marketing use in America. With the exception of lemonade, which has a longstanding traditional use to mean sweetened lemon juice, if you see the -ade suffix on a product, it means "not 100% natural" or "a blend". Like, if a product says orangeade or grapeade, you know that it's not 100% orange juice or grape juice, respectively.
     
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  24. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    Honestly I don't think there is a word specifically for a play theatre. My dad's never heard of one, either. The definition's more to come out in context.

    "I'm going to the theatre to watch a play." "I'm going to see (name of play)." "I'm going to watch a play."

    Stuff like that. The middle example is also used for movies if we assume the other person knows it's a movie in the theatre. "I'm going to see (name of movie), wanna come?"
     
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  25. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Here it's:
    Cherryade - fizzy cherry
    Orangeade - fizzy orange
    Limeade - fizzy lime

    You get the picture.

    Menus sometimes offer 'Still lemonade', but if you ordered just 'lemonade' you would get something like Sprite or 7-Up.
     
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