Friday, August 06, 2010

British English v. American English

Many years ago my older brother lived in England, and on one visit home he brought me this:

Which while in England it refers to a fairly popular dessert, in the U.S. it’s a reason to visit the free clinic.

A couple of weeks ago I was at dinner, a counselor friend of mine was talking about her trip to London that was coming up soon.  She asked what I wanted her to bring me back and I told her about the pudding and that she could bring me another can.  She laughed and said that she would see if she could find it.

When she came back and the group was having dinner again, she told me that she couldn’t find what I asked for.  She also told me that she wasn’t 100% sure I wasn’t setting her up, and she just couldn’t get herself to ask a clerk if they had any Spotted Dick.  She did bring me back this:

Which, according to her, is how you get the other.


P.S. – Writer, you know this counselor.


A Paperback Writer said...

Spotted Dick has always amused me. Also, "rubber," which is, of course, what you "rub" out mistake with on a paper, and "fag," which is a cigarette. I know I've told you this one before, but I still snicker at the memory of my professor, second semester in Scotland, who, when determining whether or not the class should take a break in our two-hour session, said, "If anyone's desperate for a fag, we'll take a break." I was the only American in the room, and it was really, really hard not to laugh at that.
As for spotted dick, there's a British import shop across the street from Trolley Square on 700 East. I forget what it's called, but you could try them. They sell Irn-Bru, for heaven's sake, so they ought to sell spotted dick.

Oh, and let's not forget the Australian blunder: Americans call the stuff "Scotch tape." Scots and Brits call it "Cello-tape." The Australians call it "Durex," which calls up --- uh, OTHER -- products in the minds of Brits, Scots, and Americans. You can imagine the humor with an Aussie going into a store and asking for a roll of Durex.

A Paperback Writer said...

Oh, and let's not forget that while Dick isn't a giggle-worthy name in the UK, Randy is -- since it's a slang term for "lascivious." Across the pond, it is unwise for an American to introduce herself/himself as Randy. Men should opt for Randall and women Brandy, even if those aren't their real names.

Max said...

Ah yes, randy. There's also 'bloody', which if I remember correctly is used much like the 'f' word.
While my brother was entertaining friends at his house in Manchester he told his 10 year old daughter to 'move your fanny' out of the way of the TV. His guests were appalled because, to them he had just told his 10 year old to mover her 'c'-word from blocking the TV.

Max said...

Another one that makes me laugh I got from reading murder mystery short stories (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine). It has a whole different meaning here when a guy planning to drop by a girls apartment (flat) the next day and he says "I'll come 'round and knock you up around 2."

A Paperback Writer said...

Yes, I've had people offer to "knock" me up before. It makes me smirk. I think it has to do with knocking on someone's door.....

I have a new post up with lots and lots of photos. Do drop by. :)

Max said...

Yeah, much like our "I'll give ya a ring" when talking about calling someone. But it still gives me a little chuckle.

Jannx said...

Hello Max. This was a very enjoyable blog entry. The comments section was even more entertaining.

Max said...

Jannx - thanks. It's funny how with some posts the comments take off and end up even more fun than the original post. One of the nice things about the blog format.

Pedro said...

The articulated lorry shed it load on the motorway - translation - the truck jackknifed on the freeway. And don't say "fanny pack" to a Brit, its a bum bag.

A Paperback Writer said...

Hey, Pedro, don't forget that the articulated lorry created a tailback when it shed its load. :)

Max, I bought some spotted dick at the London Market yesterday after I called you and left a message. Unlike our counselor acquaintance, I had no problem asking the boy working there if he had any spotted dick -- although I couldn't quite keep the smirk off my face while I said it. (Yeah, YOU try asking that question out loud and see if you can do it without smirking. Betcha can't.)
Naturally, I had to try some, as I'd never had any before. (Insert gutter-minded junior high humor about mouthfuls of spotted dick here.) (You're laughing, aren't you?) Basically, it was a really moist (oh, go on; I know what you're thinking), kind of squishy (ditto) raisin cake, which is pretty much what I thought it would be -- even though "spots" in the UK are what we call "zits," which means the name of the dessert ("pudding" = dessert) should still be at least somewhat funny on that side of the pond.

Max said...

"(Yeah, YOU try asking that question out loud and see if you can do it without smirking. Betcha can't.)"
Is that a dare I hear? I guess we're going to have to go down to the London Market sometime and see if I can pull it off. (I'm not saying I can, just saying I'm gonna try).
So "Spotted Dick" to use would be "Zit Pudding" or "Zit Dessert"?

Max said...

So "Spotted Dick" to us would be "Zit Pudding" or "Zit Dessert"?