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Old 01-11-2022, 02:57 PM   #1
4691mls
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What trips you up when reading books from different English-speaking countries?

The discussion in another thread about English vs US versions of the Harry Potter books brought this to mind. We have people on this forum from around the world and I'm sure we've all read books from various countries where English is the main language.

I don't usually notice minor spelling differences like color/colour or gray/grey.

I do notice words that have a different number of syllables in different countries, like "aluminum" vs "aluminium".

Common words in other versions of English don't trip me up as long as they don't have a different meaning in the US. For example, "lorry" (what we would call a truck in the US) doesn't trip me up since I don't use the word "lorry" for anything else.

However, with words where the same word is used to mean something different in another country my mind often pictures the US version briefly before translating. For example, if I'm reading a book in British English and someone is eating a "biscuit" I'll picture a US biscuit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biscuit_(bread) for a second before my mind translates it to "cookie".

I have the same issue with "jumper" - the British "jumper" is what I would call a "sweater" in the US. A US "jumper" is a sleeveless dress typically worn over a shirt https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jumper_(dress). Definitely a different visual, especially if the person wearing the garment is a macho male!

If a person in a British book refers to a person walking on the "pavement" my first though is the person is walking in the road and might get hit by a car, because I think of "pavement" as being the material the road is made out of. It takes a moment for my brain to translate to "sidewalk".

Another one is how building floors are numbered. In the US the "first floor" is the floor you walk into off the street. But elsewhere, the first floor the next level up (what we would call the second floor in the US.)

Do you have similar translation issues? Or does your mind automatically read such words as they are used in the country of the book's origin?
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Old 01-11-2022, 03:28 PM   #2
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I agree wilth you on most of this
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Old 01-11-2022, 03:34 PM   #3
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Slang or regional terms.
Quirks, like 1st floor . order a Chicken Salad in the UK , turned out what I wanted was Chicken Mayonnaise

BTW I wore a 'Jumper' (Blue and White versions)for 8 Years in the US Navy. It had also sleeves. Traditions
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Old 01-11-2022, 04:47 PM   #4
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My favorite one was when I started knitting. In the US what you knit with is called yarn. In the UK it seems that it's called wool. So I guess they have cotton wool, acrylic wool, silk wool, etc.

It got me wondering; how many words can you think of where an item's name is what it's made from? We drink from a glass. You press your clothes with an iron. A golf club can be either an iron or a wood. Your turn ...
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Old 01-11-2022, 04:53 PM   #5
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I thought a jumper was anything you pulled on over your head; no buttons (or zipper in the case of a sweatshirt). So what we call a t-shirt would also be a jumper.

What's the derivation? Do you need to jump up and down to get it fully on?
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Old 01-11-2022, 06:17 PM   #6
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Nothing trips me up. English is not my native language and I don't even notice any regional differences; it's all English to me.
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Old 01-11-2022, 07:29 PM   #7
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English is the richer for having so many dialects. Most of the unfamiliar usages are noted in dictionaries so it is no trouble at all.

I do think the translating Harry Potter books from English into English was an unnecessary and unfortunate error, and an ongoing one since these are still the only editions we can purchase (or borrow from libraries) in the USA. (I assume the audiobooks are no different; ironically they are read with a British accent by the multi-talented Jim Dale)
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Old 01-11-2022, 10:02 PM   #8
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There's also crisps and chips. What we call potato chips and corn chips the Brits call crisps. What we call french fries they call chips.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4691mls View Post
For example, if I'm reading a book in British English and someone is eating a "biscuit" I'll picture a US biscuit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biscuit_(bread) for a second before my mind translates it to "cookie".
Have you ever thought about what an odd word cookie is? Cook can be a verb, what you do to food, and a noun, someone who cooks. But add "ie" to it and it becomes a pastry. Say what? Why not "bakie"? That's at least closer to how they're cooked.
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Old 01-11-2022, 10:31 PM   #9
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I do notice regional differences, mostly, and hate seeing them "translated". I'd rather have to google a word or phrase than think "there's a no way a character from X would say Y"
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Old 01-11-2022, 10:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hobnail View Post
Have you ever thought about what an odd word cookie is? Cook can be a verb, what you do to food, and a noun, someone who cooks. But add "ie" to it and it becomes a pastry. Say what? Why not "bakie"? That's at least closer to how they're cooked.
Not ‘bakie’ but we do have ‘bakes’, a type of bread. There are fried bakes (the more common type, also called ‘floats’) and roast bakes.
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Old 01-12-2022, 12:56 AM   #11
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'P*issed' makes me pause. In US it means angry; in UK and Oz it means drunk. 'P*issed off' is Oz for extremely annoyed, or angry.
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Old 01-12-2022, 01:28 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hobnail View Post
Have you ever thought about what an odd word cookie is? Cook can be a verb, what you do to food, and a noun, someone who cooks. But add "ie" to it and it becomes a pastry. Say what? Why not "bakie"? That's at least closer to how they're cooked.
Seeing as biscuit pretty much translates into English as twice cooked, calling them cookies is moderately sensible though cookie is based on the Dutch koek (small cake). The Italian biscotti comes closest to the original biscuit where they were baked and then dried in a low oven.

A James Nicoll quote comes to mind:

"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."
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Old 01-12-2022, 06:20 AM   #13
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'P*issed' makes me pause. In US it means angry; in UK and Oz it means drunk. 'P*issed off' is Oz for extremely annoyed, or angry.
Yep. Way back in the early days of email it was Xmas eve and I mentioned to my American email pen pal that I was pissed at work. She asked me who had annoyed me so much...
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Old 01-12-2022, 07:45 AM   #14
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US cookies are a specific kind of biscuit elsewhere. The US seems to simply not have the variety elsewhere. A US biscuit is a specific kind of Scottish scone. A regular scone is different. A cookie is always an American cookie in UK & Ireland. We now get some USA non-cookie biscuits (in the Irish/British sense) foisted on us, such as Oreos. Some biscuits and crackers thought of as British are Irish inventions and one seems to be Canadian (Twiglets). English "Peak Freen" was the most prolific biscuit inventor.



I have a whole dictionary of US vs British. I notice too that USA books are almost never "translated" to British English, but British and Irish (not Irish Language) books are often adapted for the USA.
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Old 01-12-2022, 07:50 AM   #15
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Quote:
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Nothing trips me up. English is not my native language and I don't even notice any regional differences; it's all English to me.
It's the same for me.
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