Not all English is the same - GulfToday

Not all English is the same

Birjees Hussain

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

British Economy

Photo has been used for illustrative purpose.

Languages are funny things. Even when two or more countries speak the same language, they may sometimes still not be able to understand each other. This can happen in French, Arabic and definitely English. Not only do accents vary from country to country when the same language is being spoken by a native speaker so do words and phrases.

Where a word could mean one thing in one country it could have a totally different meaning in another. In addition, the same word could mean something completely different from one country to the next. Canada, Australia, The United States and Britain all share these differences in the English Language.

The starkest differences in the English language is that between British English and American English. It’s not just the pronunciation, although you might have noticed that the British do not enunciate the ‘r’ when it appears at the end of a sentence whereas the Americans do so heavily. But aside from the clear accent difference the names for the same items are often completely different. For example, a pavement in Britain is a sidewalk in America. Glasses are called eye-glasses, a mobile phone is a cell phone and a petrol station to pump petrol is a gas station where they pump gas into their cars. Babies’ items also have different names.

In Britain, a cradle in which a baby sleeps is called a crib, a dummy that a baby sucks on is a pacifier, a pushchair or pram is a stroller and a nappy is a diaper. Even certain vegetables have American versions. The courgette is a zucchini and an aubergine is an eggplant.

Why it’s called an eggplant is inexplicable. It neither comes from an egg, nor does it resemble one. A bin in America is a trash can or a waste paper basket and a shopping trolley is a shopping cart.

If you have a fringe in your hair in Britain, you will have bangs in America. Now bangs in Britain can be a noun as well as a verb (as in a loud bang or bang the door). But it has no connection to your hair. A fringe in America is actually their name for tassels such as, for example, in curtains, and plimsolls in Britain are sneakers in America. Americans also say cookies for biscuits, French Fries for chips and they say zee whereas the British say zed.

Even though Australia and Britain share a monarch, their language also has its nuances but theirs are also very quirky and funny. The first thing I discovered was that Australians love to use insults as terms of endearment.

If an Australian insults you, it’s not always meant to be offensive but a sign that they feel close to you and like you. Swearing is also a normal way of life. Every other word in a sentence can be a profanity and sometimes that swear word is added to the middle of another word, thereby elongating it.

I also discovered years ago that, if an Australian calls you Sheila, it’s not because he thinks that’s your name but because the word is used to address females in general. The Australians also like to abbreviate words. For example, afternoon is arvo, university is uni, Christmas is chrissie, banana is nana and roo is short for kangaroo, the latter, by the way, also being an insult. Americans are referred to as yanks, chickens as chooks and chocolate as chockki.

Now Canada and Britain also share a monarch but despite that there are still some differences in the language. For example, a car park is a parkade, plimsolls are runners or running shoes, an exercise book is a scribbler, a toilet or cloakroom is a washroom and a sofa or settee is a chesterfield (most likely named after the first sofa manufacturer in Canada).

If you withdraw money from a cash machine which is what it’s called in Britain, you are going to an ATM or bank machine in Canada. A studio flat or flat in Britain is an Apartment or Bachelor apartment and a much needed holiday in Britain is referred to as a vacation.

You might notice that some words are shared by Canada and America and this is very likely to happen since they are neighbours and are collectively known as North America.

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