A linguistic oddity. American vs English, or just personal?

Started by Gyppo, December 30, 2017, 02:55:22 PM

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Lin Treadgold

The last time I wrote a short story in the English version, the editor in the USA, she changed it all to American on my behalf.  I didnt have to do a thing except approve it. Playground became school yard and many other changes. 

Lin  ;)

Jo Bannister

My New York editor once asked if she could change a saloon (which to her was somewhere that cowboys drink) to a sedan.  I replied that my (English) characters would hardly use a term which, to them, would suggest blokes in powdered wigs carrying a chair!

The simplest answer was to turn the saloon car into a hatchback, which apparently means the same both sides of the Pond.


Quote from: Gyppo on December 30, 2017, 02:55:22 PM
   What do you think?
Having one mill about is common to my ears. The point was about what was, or wasn't, being done, not how many were involved.


Definitely down to a difference between English and American understanding of the same term then ;-)


The difference is probably even down to regions. Southerners tend to be more relaxed with words. How else would we get phrases like "fixinna fax" to say one was about to fax a document?  :)


I sometimes forget just how big America is compared to my little grey rock in the North Sea ;-)  We have regional variations but the way I understand it over there you almost have different countries within the greater mass.  Areas where nearly everyone speaks Spanish, or where the original immigrants were nearly all Scandinavian stock and still hang into the old speech patterns and characteristics.

Spell Chick

We really are more like the EU than GB. When we moved here and I wanted a pop, they didn't know I wanted a soda, but in a different place, when you order a Coke, you might want a 7UP and have to clarify.

Language is useful for communication, but it also seems to be really good at miscommunication as well.
Imperfect Reason My thoughts, such as they are.


We're Islanders, not Continentals.  Despite the huge mix of influences in our collective gene pool.  I'm not saying we're better or worse, but we are different in our responses and outlook.  Just as writers share the same basic biology as other people, but often see things very differently

A while back I was at a bus stop and there were two young lads arguing.  The kind of argument friends can have, quite heated, but no real malice.  They had a touch of colour to their skins and I guessed they were probably Anglo-Indian.  That's quite a common blend around here, although they could have been Iranian as we have a small and industrious enclave of them as well in the village.

They seemed to be arguing in a foreign language, but after a while I realised it was English, just not English as I know it.  Familiar words, but with the stress on different syllables, and an altered inflexion.  Plus of course words which have a totally different meaning across the generation gap.

Fascinating actually.

Lin Treadgold

Even the British Islands have different words.  For example Shetland names a puffin as a Tammie Norie.  A Cormorant is a Muckle Scarf.  I bet many of our members can change the traditional English language into something quite different on a regional basis. 
I live in Devon and whenever we have visitors to the local pub where the landlord speaks broad Devonish, they have great difficuluty understanding what he says.  'Keep calm and aive on.'

Oh yes the UK is quite unique in the way we speak on a regional basis, but somehow most of us seem to understand each other. 



Spell Chick

When we moved here, Dick had to go into the backwoods area. He needed an interpreter even tho everyone was speaking American. He couldn't understand a word they said.

This was about 50-75 miles from where we live.
Imperfect Reason My thoughts, such as they are.


I would have thought milling could only be done by two or more people , the more I read it the stranger it sounds.

Patrick Wood

Pronunciation is the most significant distinction between British and American English. There are a few changes in the way each variant of English uses grammar, as well. There are some grammatical distinctions between American and British English. The present perfect is used in British English to speak about a previous activity that is related to the present. In American English, the present perfect could be used in the same way, although people frequently are using the past simple when they perceive the activity to be completed. Which is really common with the adverbs yet, already, and just.
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There are several distinctions in the American English that really are incomprehensible to British English speakers, such as when Americans eliminate entire verbs from a phrase. When a person in the United States says they'll write them a letter, they say "I'll write them." When asked if they would like to go shopping, an American may respond, "I could." These responses would be strange in the UK, as we would reply "I'll write to you" and "I could go." Removing the verb could be due to a desire by Americans to speak more quickly, or it could be due to the British need to spell out precisely what they're saying.