American or British English?

There are the obvious differences, such as spelling words using -ise and -ize, or adding an -our instead of or (e.g. colour instead of color), but there are a few other anomalies I’ve picked up reading books by authors not from the U.S. Here are a few that I had to look up in the dictionary to discern what on earth the author was talking about:

We’ve all learned a long time ago that the gals in London share a flat, while the girls in New York share an apartment. In Manhattan, they take the elevator, while in London, everyone takes the lift. But what other differences are there?

What is a jumper?

In the U.S., it’s a dress, usually worn over a shirt, that comes down mid-calf. It’s often considered frumpy. Here’s an example.

Button-Front Denim Jumper

Well, apparently, in other countries, a jumper is also a sweater. See this picture from a UK website. Who would have thought?

(Now him in a jumper, not a bad idea!!)

Another one: Trainers.

We call work-out shoes sneakers or tennis shoes, although they may come nowhere near a tennis court. Over there, across the pond, they are called trainers. That’s complete craziness.

Last but not least, from the Southern hemisphere, what on earth is Vegemite?

Vegemite: This one hails from Australia. In the song “I Come from the Land Down Under”, the band Men at Work mentioned a Vegemite sandwich. I remember the song from the eighties, but never thought twice about it until I read it in a romance set in Australia or New Zealand, I don’t remember which, but the leading lady was eating Vegemite.

Image
Image Source: <a title=”By Tristanb [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons”

What differences have you noticed? Do you read books from both sides of the Atlantic? Or even from down under?

Here in the Southern U.S. we take our tea sweet and cold. Enough said.

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3 Comments

  1. Jon Cole-Dalton   •  

    I think it’s the subtle differences that make all of us who use our own version of the English language unique, however through globalisation we are losing these differing qualities. For instance many Americanised spellings of words in the UK are slowly becoming adopted due to the way we share media with one another. In that respect having a unified version of the English language would make sense as we would all be using the same dictionary and the minor inconsistencies in language syntax and spelling would become a thing of the past. Which is best depends on your opinion.

    On a less serious note, in the UK we have Marmite: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marmite

    • Lily Bishop   •  

      I agree with you whole-heartedly!! I can’t tell you how many times I have misspelled the ise/ize words because I read books from both countries.

      • Jon Cole-Dalton   •  

        Regularly suffer from that one myself. It’s the words where it’s acceptable to use either spelling so long as you have consistency that always catch me out.

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