The ‘pond’ divide

We are divided by but a pond, we speak the same language. Or do we?

I have friends, family and tweeps in the States. Most TV programmes I watch are from the US, and let’s not forget the amazing films/movies!

I understand pretty much everything that is said when listening to an American, but a certain amount of ‘word conversion’ is carried out, sometimes even groups of words, and I’m sure it’s the same when somebody from the U.S encounters a Brit! In a bid to help with the following I will distinguish between the U.S with GUYS and the British with CHAPS. See it’s started already! I don’t mean leather trousers/pants with no backside in, it’s a colloquial term for a man/guy etc..

Lets start with one of the most popular CHIPS. Now chaps will get these, often along with fish, sprinkled with salt & vinegar. Whereas guys will expect to eat a wafer thin deep fried disc out of a bag. Chaps would call the discs CRISPS. Guys will call chaps chips FRIES or maybe even FRENCH FRIES. Where does the French come from? I’m certain the French call them POMMES FRITES translation; fried potato. Is it the way they are cooked? Aside from this small puzzlement I think the guys word, FRIES is much better than ours. Chips? The dictionary would probably say that a chip is something small that has detached from a larger piece, which is a much better description of the chaps CRISP.

This next one was brought to the forefront of my memory by a very nice tweep from the U.S. Chaps call it a LORRY, Guys call it a TRUCK. Now.. Although the guys version is much more rugged, the chaps win on the tongue twister that we have grown up with.. Red lorry, yellow lorry. Repeat at speed until you get it wrong, which won’t be long.. That’s why it’s a tongue twister. Doesn’t quite work with truck!

One of my personal favourites is WASHING. Now guys call it LAUNDRY and calling it this covers all eventualities, whereas some, maybe not all chaps have a name for each stage. It/they start off as clothes, or sheets. Then they become WASHING, then DRYING, then IRONING, then PUTTING AWAY, then like magic they are back to being clothes/sheets.

This leads me to WASH UP. Now.. If a chap was asked to WASH UP, he/she would go and do the washing up, ie. the dishes, plates, mugs, saucepans in the kitchen. If the same were asked of a guy, by a chap, the chap might be very disappointed at the sight of a festering pile of washing up, but would perhaps be a little placated by the sight of the guys sparkly clean hands…

The aforementioned ‘very nice tweep’ mentioned that chaps go up in a LIFT to their FLAT, whereas guys will use the ELEVATOR to reach their APARTMENT. Now.. you are ‘lifted’, you are also ‘elevated’. Note the British being sparing with their syllables here. We have to leave syllables back to use words like POPPYCOCK! FIDDLESTICKS! And the like (If you live in Enid Blyton / Jeeves & Wooster world anyway..). But should we change the name of the LIFT / ELEVATOR when we are coming down?

Chaps will also put their RUBBISH in a BIN, whilst guys put their TRASH in a TRASH CAN. I like the word rubbish, you can use it in many ways.. “My cooking is Rubbish” “The weather is rubbish”, see?! British to the end, ALWAYS talking about the weather..

Chaps have the MOTORWAY. Guys have the FREEWAY.. IS it free? I know in Britain we can pay to use some roads, or does FREE mean something else in this context? Our ‘motors’ use the MOTORWAY, so maybe the chaps is more logical.

The last one is the most awkward, and it’s one word, used on both sides of the pond, but it has an ENTIRELY different meaning. If a guy gave his beloved a ‘friendly pat on it’, he would probably live to tell the tale, but if a chap did it, he might not. Whether there was a breakdown in (anatomy) communication, I do not know, but the chaps use of the word could ONLY be applied to the female of the species..

So.. People, both sides of the pond. Let’s just not use the word FANNY. It’s far too dangerous.

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The ‘pond’ divide

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