Talk:British and American English

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 Definition A comparison between these two language variants in terms of vocabulary, spelling and pronunciation. [d] [e]

Wallets and Pocketbooks

I just noticed that Wallet is listed as Brit and Pocketbook as 'Merkin. SURELY this has been reversed from what it SHOULD be! We had a LONG discussion about this years ago at -- unless I am really wrong about this, I will switch the two around eventually.... Hayford Peirce (talk) 17:46, 10 February 2015 (UTC)

You say wallet, I say wallet, who says pocketbook? Americans, I thought. I may have heard it on the radio/TV a couple of times.
Just remembered billfold, which is obviously American. Ro Thorpe (talk) 21:52, 10 February 2015 (UTC)
Good catch! Shall I change the listing to wallet for Brit, wallet; billfold fer 'Merkins? And eliminate pocketbook entirely. As I said five years ago in the original discussion, NO 'Merkin male carries a pocketbook. Never, ever, not even once. But "billfold" is used occasionally. Less now, I think, than when I was young. Hayford Peirce (talk) 22:03, 10 February 2015 (UTC)
Yes, that would be fine by me. Ro Thorpe (talk) 02:34, 11 February 2015 (UTC)
How about the female equivalents? What we call a handbag they call a purse. I don't know what they call what we call a purse, i.e. a small container mainly for money that can fit inside the handbag. (Just to confuse things, the Oscar Wilde sense of handbag is now obsolete, replaced by holdall here and grip there.) Peter Jackson (talk) 17:49, 12 February 2015 (UTC)
Merkin's use the word handbag also, in the same sense as a purse. But "purse" can *also* be that small currency container that fits inside a handbag. I think we discussed this earlier in the archived link. I don't think that the differences between the two countries are distinct enough to make this an item on the list. Hayford Peirce (talk) 18:04, 12 February 2015 (UTC)
  • I impulsively decided to archive this page. Hope that's OK. The previous section's talk at Archive 2 can be continued if need be. Ro Thorpe (talk) 03:52, 11 February 2015 (UTC)
Fine with me. It was getting a little long in the tooth. Superannuated? I don't THINK that 'Merkins use that word....Hayford Peirce (talk) 14:42, 11 February 2015 (UTC)
And therefore not healthful. Just seen that for the first time (on my WP talk page). Ro Thorpe (talk) 21:34, 11 February 2015 (UTC)
Okie, I've looked up superannuate and it doesn't say chiefly Brit., to my surprise. Are you saying that healthful is not used it Brit. at all? In M-W it has a long separate entry from healthy and there *are* differences.... Hayford Peirce (talk) 21:49, 11 February 2015 (UTC)
I don't recall hearing it, no. Ro Thorpe (talk) 23:04, 11 February 2015 (UTC)
Even great Rheault can nod. Here's what the Concise Oxford says about healthful: a. Health-giving; conductive to moral or spiritual welfare. Hence ~LY adv., ~NESS n. Nothing about it bein' 'Merkin usage. But I'm sure that we DO use it more.... Hayford Peirce (talk) 23:20, 11 February 2015 (UTC)
Never heard it on BBC, Sky, Al Jazeera, CNN. Perhaps they use it on Fox News, I tend to skip that one. Ro Thorpe (talk) 13:42, 12 February 2015 (UTC)

Twee and quaint

These aren't synonyms. Quaint is a term of approbation, twee of disapproval. Ro Thorpe (talk) 13:53, 12 February 2015 (UTC)

Well, "quaint" *also* has another sense of "odd, figures of fun, strange". "Old-fashioned" in a disapproving sense, too. I think that today, in the States, at least, it's a coin-flip as to whether it's a word of approbation OR at least somewhat disparaging. The M-W says of twee: (1905) chiefly Brit: affectedly or excessively dainty, delicate, cute, or quaint <such a theme might sound ~ or corny -- Times Literary Supp.> -- that's where I grabbed quaint from. Please give me a better one and I'll make the change. Hayford Peirce (talk) 18:23, 12 February 2015 (UTC)
Quite right, quaint can be negative, too. Once again the direct equivalent table model is failing us. Much better would be a list of words that are (normally) not used by Americans, and another of those not used by Brits, each entry as long as needed. Ro Thorpe (talk) 20:40, 12 February 2015 (UTC)
You are, of course, absolutely right. The question is: who will do it? Our manpower is severely constricted.... Hayford Peirce (talk) 23:00, 12 February 2015 (UTC)
Glad you agree in principle, anyway. Earlier I thought of bolding those that are normally restricted to one variety only, like sidewalk. Room for lots of disagreement there? Or just lots of work? Ro Thorpe (talk) 23:30, 12 February 2015 (UTC)
I think we're proposing something that is gonna be a lot of work, with only a couple of us contributing to it. A LOT of time, for instance, could probably be spend on individual items like tadpole/polliwog and purse/handbag etc. etc. Freeways, divided highways, dual carriage ways, motorways, etc. etc. etc.... Where is Doctor Johnson when you need him? Hayford Peirce (talk) 23:42, 12 February 2015 (UTC)
I don't think we need to worry about the amount of work. What actually needs to be done is for anything that's not straightforward "We usually say this, they usually say that" should be removed from the table and replaced by more dicursive explanation somewhere else, such as Lexis and idiom. This doesn't need to be done suddenly in one large operation. We can do it one item at a time whenever we feel like it. Peter Jackson (talk) 09:24, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
Yes, that's the way to look at it. Ro Thorpe (talk) 17:13, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

Some more words to consider

From Sword of Honour, page 217 getting near the end of the first book:

"A potty little show." M-W traces this back to 1860 and says it's chiefly Brit, meaning either trivial or insignificant, OR slightly crazy, OR snobbish.

Just means 'crazy' to me.

"All round the bum boats floated....", page 229. For the spelling section? In 'Merkin it is all around.

It's audible, not just spelling. Lexis and idiom, more like.

"she was not much of a dab at anything" -- M-W says it's chiefly Brit and is a "skillful person". I've also frequently seen something like "he's a dab hand" in all sorts of Brit books....

I only know it in the latter expression.

From The Mathematics of Murder, a little-known collection of short stories by the esteemed Michael Gilbert, a man who also writes a very clean prose:

The first story concerns murders being committed on railroad cars carrying commuters out of London. He refers to them as either coaches or carriages. I'm pretty sure that 'Merkin-talk is cars.


Also, to my vast surprise, he describes these carriages as having a central gangway "down the middle". The old Brit trains with individual compartments had a corridor, I think, but American ones with open seating would have an aisle.


On the same page, 17, he refers to a pantechnicon, which is NEVER used in the States. A very large lorry, I believe?


In the next story, page 33, he refers to a rough shoot (the great Geoffrey Household had a novel called A Rough Shoot), and I don't think there is any exact 'Merkin equivalent. Shoot does exist in 'Merkin but isn't much used, I think. Hunting rights I *think* is what we would say.... Maybe a blind....

I'd need the context for this one.

Also in this story, various lawyers and accountants look at account sheets -- I think these are bank statements or ledger pages but am not quite sure. Hayford Peirce (talk) 00:34, 4 March 2015 (UTC)

No idea about that last one. Ro Thorpe (talk) 14:05, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
Have to be careful with technical stuff. There's a varety of different accounting documents (or were pre-computer). Might need an accountant to clarify what's what. Peter Jackson (talk) 10:43, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes indeed. I did a little googling on this one,then decided to stay clear of it. Hayford Peirce (talk) 14:04, 5 March 2015 (UTC)