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    #1

    The variety of English

    During the process of learning English, I realize that English has developed different varieties in different parts of world. There is not only American, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand English, but also Indian English, Singaporean English, and so on. These languages have their own pronounciation and spelling. They also have own vocabulary - a "pavement" in Britain is a "sidewalk" in North America and a "footpath" in Australia.

    Once I visited a building of American located in Ho Chi Minh City. I asked a receptionist where the lift was, then she said "What?". I replied that "The lift. I need to get to 15th floor", she laughed and said "We call them elevators here", turn out American call it "evelator" and in Britian it's called "The lift"... Also, I asked an American girl where the toilet was, then she smiled at me and said "toilet isn't a good word to use. It's restroom, or washroom, or men's room" . So, I asked where it was, and was told it on the first floor. So I went up to the first floor and found I was on the second floor. Oh my god ! , turn out the ground floor in Britain is called the first floor in America, and the first floor in Britain is called the second floor in America

    Have you ever wondered why English often has more than one word to refer to the same thing ?

  1. Mariner's Avatar

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    #2

    Re: The variety of English

    It's just a cultural thing. When two communities/cities/states/countries are separated from each other in some way (obviously, the greater the separation, the bigger the difference) they develop differently.

    A funny example (with serious consequences if you misuse the words!)

    fag mainly in BrE
    =cigarette <INFORMAL>

    fag mainly in AmE
    =homosexual <OFFENSIVE, INFORMAL>

    fag mainly inAusE
    =in school, a junior who performs certain duties for a senior

    Gotta be careful when using words!

  2. rewboss's Avatar

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    #3

    Re: The variety of English

    Some specific examples are sometimes quite interesting.

    Take the word "pavement". It simply describes something that is paved. Many years ago that often meant the entire road. Separate footpaths at the side of the road are a relatively new idea, and in the US they coined a new word, "sidewalk", reserving "pavement" for the rest of the road; in Britain "carriageway" refers to the part of the road the carriages used, which eventually had tarmac instead of paving stones, leaving the footpaths mostly still paved and still called "pavements" (although on official signs you will usually see "footpath").

    Even within a country huge differences can occur. In Britain, for example, the special shoes children wear in the school sports hall are variously known in different parts of the country as "plimsolls", "gym shoes", "pumps" or, in Wales and a tiny part of south-west England where I come from, "daps".

    And if you really want to know the meaning of the phrase "impassioned debate", log on to a message board dominated by Americans from all over the US, and ask whether the correct term for a carbonated drink is "pop" or "soda".

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    #4

    Re: The variety of English

    Quote Originally Posted by Mariner View Post
    fag mainly in BrE
    =cigarette <INFORMAL>
    I read a complaint from an American who had learned this term before going to the UK and arrived to find that tab was the term in use, a northern term that was popularised in the south by the magazine Viz.


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    #5

    Re: The variety of English

    When I was growing up in the west of Scotland, the term we used for gym shoes was "sandshoes", or "sawnies", and the term for any kind of soft drink was "ginger".

  3. Ouisch's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: The variety of English

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    And if you really want to know the meaning of the phrase "impassioned debate", log on to a message board dominated by Americans from all over the US, and ask whether the correct term for a carbonated drink is "pop" or "soda".

    It's pop, darnit.

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    #7

    Re: The variety of English

    We use pop in the UK, but a night on the pop doesn't involve anything soft.

  4. BobK's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: The variety of English

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    We use pop in the UK, but a night on the pop doesn't involve anything soft.
    I've never met that one, but your example suggests it's the same as "a night on the sauce".

    b

  5. Ouisch's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: The variety of English

    This study done by a Harvard professor is pretty interesting...it has a geographic breakdown of the different dialects of American English.

    I was surprised by some of the results, for example there are a few areas in the US where folks say "you lot" (instead of "you guys"), which to me sounds strictly BrE.

  6. Mariner's Avatar

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    #10

    Re: The variety of English

    Very interesting study, thanks for informing us

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