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British-American vocabulary

Posted: 2005-12-07, 11:26
by ego
Hello all,

I was wondering if there is a list of the different words used for the same things in Britain and America (flat-appartment etc). I think I had seen such a list once but I could not find it this time. If there is indeed one, could you give me the URL please?
If there is not one already, would you people be interested in making it?

Posted: 2005-12-07, 11:29
by Psi-Lord
Check

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_and_British_English_differences

and you'll find links to similar lists down the page.

Posted: 2005-12-07, 23:26
by jonathan
It's interesting, but after reading through that, it definitely appears like B.E. is full of more slang than A.E. is, which I would never have expected with as loose and vibrant as A.E. can be (California slang, Ebonics, etc.). But just looking at the B.E. list, it's insane how many everyday objects they use slang for!

Posted: 2005-12-08, 0:39
by Gormur
Either my English has become "internationalized" or I don't speak like a majority of Americans, because I use a good mix of what that article deems as "British vs American", some examples (I highlighted the one I'd use)........

"Have you done your homework yet?"/"Did you do your homework yet?"
"I've just got home." / "I just got home."
"I've already eaten." / "I already ate."

From Wiki -
Where a statement of intention involves two separate activities, it is acceptable for speakers of American English to use to go plus bare infinitive. Speakers of British English would instead use to go and plus bare infinitive: thus where a speaker of American English might say "I'll go take a bath", British English speakers would say "I'll go and have a bath". (Both can also use the form "to go to" instead to suggest that the action may fail, as in "He went to take/have a bath, but the bath was full of children.")


What I say: "I'm gonna' have a bath".

There are other examples, which I'll point out later......

Posted: 2005-12-08, 6:10
by Ariki
"Have you done your homework yet?"/"Did you do your homework yet?"
"I've just got home." / "I just got home."
"I've already eaten." / "I already ate."


I can just as easily say -

I've just gotten home
I've already ate

and I'd say - I'm gonna go have/take a bath...

Posted: 2005-12-08, 13:43
by ZombiekE
Gormur, weren't you norwegian or had norwegian as mother tongue? when did you start learning English? Does Norwegian favour those tenses you chose in those cases?

I have the same choices as you, but I started learning English when I was 6. In my case not all of them fit with the Spanish "equivalent" but many do.

Posted: 2005-12-08, 15:51
by Gormur
ZombiekE wrote:Gormur, weren't you norwegian or had norwegian as mother tongue? when did you start learning English?


Hm, yes, though I can't say if that has had a direct effect on the way I'd use syntax. I also began learning English around the same time as you --I was 5. Also, part of it is that I live amongst international students, so I sometimes struggle just to keep my speech from becoming "internationalized", so to speak. Maybe it has in fact changed somewhat since my arrival in Canada (regarding syntax and vocabulary).

Does Norwegian favour those tenses you chose in those cases?


Not particularly, though you could be right -- maybe I subconciously favor the "have" tenses - "will have", "would have", "would've had", "have had", etc.
It seems as though we'd always use "have" or "had" in present and past (in Norwegian) - at least more often than it's typically used in American English.

"Have you done your homework yet?" - har du gjort leksene?
"Did you do your homework yet?" - gjorde du leksene? (this sounds awkward, in this case)
"I've just got home." - jeg har akkurat kommet hjem.
"I just got home." - same as above
"I've already eaten." - Jeg har allerede spist.
"I already ate. - same as above


I have the same choices as you, but I started learning English when I was 6. In my case not all of them fit with the Spanish "equivalent" but many do.


Interesting.

Posted: 2005-12-08, 16:06
by ZombiekE
The media may also influence our speech. In my case I get both US and UK English although the English I learnt at school was British English.

Those sentences in Norwegian "match" the Spanish usage of our auxiliary "haber".

I've noticed that in Latin American Spanish, the pattern seems to be like the UK-US patterns. They often would use the "did" sentences instead of "have".

Posted: 2005-12-09, 1:01
by jonathan
Actually though, I also disagreed with or felt taken by the comment made on that page about "did" (A.E.) vs. "have" (B.E.) constructions. I do both, and I have found that many Americans do as well. For instance, I will hear these following sentences the same amount:

"I already ate."
"I've already eaten."

The article seems to be trying to make the case that the first sentence would be American, the second British... but I highly disagree. Perhaps in Britian they do not use the first construction, but I know that in America we most certainly use both.

Posted: 2005-12-09, 1:08
by jonathan
Gormur wrote:Either my English has become "internationalized" or I don't speak like a majority of Americans, because I use a good mix of what that article deems as "British vs American", some examples (I highlighted the one I'd use)........

"Have you done your homework yet?"/"Did you do your homework yet?"
"I've just got home." / "I just got home."
"I've already eaten." / "I already ate."


Exactly! Let me just say this: I'm from Texas, and I would actually tend towards the ones you put in red myself— that's not to say the others don't sound natural or that I don't hear them used that way (with the exception of the middle one, where the non-highlighted one just seems strange). I myself just tend to use "have" constructions, because I feel they sound/feel more pleasant.

But I don't think I'm alone in this down here in Texas. I know plenty of others from whom I've heard "have" constructions. So... what perspective was this Wikiarticle written from?

Posted: 2005-12-09, 4:41
by Kirk
Well, that's the problem with generalizing about dialects--some things may generally be true but it can vary widely according to speaker/register/age/region/context. The thing is that "American English" and "British English" are definitely not two monolithic entities which are homogenous within themselves. Far from the truth.

Personally, for me, both "have you done your homework yet?" and "Did you do your homework yet?" are things that sound perfectly natural for me to say. As for the second example, I would only use "I just got home." For the third example I could use either "I've already eaten" or "I already ate" interchangeably.

The perspective the Wikipedia article was written from was that in American English the present perfect is not used in as many instances as British English. However, that's far from implying that the present perfect is not used in the US, even in the most informal of speech, as it is. That being said, there are a few rules which dictate when it's more likely that the preterit is going to be used as compared to the present perfect in American English.

Posted: 2005-12-10, 14:15
by ZombiekE
Kirk wrote:Well, that's the problem with generalizing about dialects--some things may generally be true but it can vary widely according to speaker/register/age/region/context. The thing is that "American English" and "British English" are definitely not two monolithic entities which are homogenous within themselves. Far from the truth.


I agree.

Posted: 2005-12-11, 9:50
by MikeL
I have always assumed that "Did you eat already?" was confined to American English, and that it was possibly the result of a Yiddish influence. It is entirely absent from those dialects of English with which I am most familiar (southern British, Australian, N.Z. Upon reflexion I can't be sure that it isn't found in Ireland, Scotland or the north of Britain.

As a teacher of English to foreigners, I have tended to quietly ignore this usage since it inconveniently violates an otherwise fairly straightforward and very useful rule about when to use the simple past tense and when to use the present perfect!

Posted: 2005-12-12, 0:04
by Ariki
I'm used to 'Did you eat already?' and 'have you already eaten?'

Posted: 2005-12-13, 17:03
by jonathan
"Ya'll done ate yah grits yet?"

Posted: 2005-12-20, 17:16
by Gormur
jonathan wrote:"Ya'll done ate yah grits yet?"


pert near bossman? :wink: