I have recently received some more interesting differences in the language we use, this time between Australia, USA and U.K. and even India and beyond.
Ann, June and Pat Isaacs have confirmed that Christmas Crackers are called "bon-bons" in Australia, although the term "crackers" is sometimes used.
Niklas from Mozambique
I'm a Swede living in Mozambique. Every eight weeks we travel the 90km's to South Africa to "chill out" for a couple of days. Things are different there; even the English language differs a lot from the one we Europeans know.
A barbeque, for example, is a "Braai", wherever you go!
Another word you always encounter as a tourist is the "Robot", meaning a traffic light.
They say: turn to the "right at the robot" (and not: turn to the "lite at the lite", as in Hong-Kong ;-)
Renny J. Thomas has sent in two new phrases with differing meanings -
1. Here in India, we use the word 'Freak Out' (its kind of slang) when we want to say that we are going to have a party or a bash. In the US, I believe 'Freak Out' means doing drugs, losing your control and kind of things. They just use the term 'Party' as in 'We plan to party tonight'. In India, people would say - 'We are going to freak out to night'. Not sure what it would mean in UK. I got to know this during one of my conversations with our client (from the US).
In the U.K. "freak out" means to go slightly crazy, wild or to have a strong emotional experience.
2. The second one - 'Madam'. In India, this is used to address a lady with respect. But in the US, I believe it has a very different meaning. In the US, I believe a Madam is someone who runs a business of ............ (ill repute) They use ma'am if I am right. Addressing a lady as 'Madam' in the US can get you into deep trouble if I am correct.
In the U.K. we may use the term "Madam" when addressing a letter to an unknown lady and, occasionally sales staff in a shop may say "madam" but this is becoming more unusual in today's disrespectful society. The term "a madam" is used for a woman in charge of prostitutes.
While it's true that Americans use the noun "madam" to refer to a female keeper of a house of ill repute, the word still has currency in other situations. As a term of direct address, "Madam" is still sometimes used as a polite, but firm, means of commanding attention in a difficult encounter, as in: "Madam, would you please remove your hands from my throat!" In correspondence, the term is still used salutations, though sometimes spelled with a final "e": "Dear Sir or Madame".
Richard A. Swanson
As Renny J. Thomas wrote.. he and his mates use "Freak out" to have a party... I think it is confined to them only... Nowhere in India, I have heard such slangs to have party... Everywhere people use we'll go to party or somewhat like that.. even when they speak in their own languages, they say, the word "PARTY"... Moreover, we hardly use slangs in India, we use very formal, "correct" but not "good" english, we are more concerned about the "formal" shape and grammar of the language which is same as that of "Queens English".
However, because of the influence of our mother tongue, we use some words differently, as we directly translate our thoughts to english, so it may sound strange to english ears, like we use "X Uncle" in place of "Uncle X", "Village" in place of "Countryside", "backside of the house" in place of "Back of the House"
In some Hi-tech places like Bangalore or Hyderabad people use American English nowadays. Still, they call, the stranger or shopkeepers as "Boss", like english "Guv'nor".. The word "Cab" is used as in USA, however most people still say it taxi....
Funny thing, although its officially wrong to say, Most people in India use "Title" as "Last name", almost everybody thinks married women use "Mrs", they can't use "Ms"; Its your gender that makes the title like "Shri or Mr" for lads, "Mrs or Ms/ Kumari" for ladies..... no question for Dr, or "Sir"(Are there any "Sir" in India)...
Very few people call a doctor as doctor when s/he talks with the doctor. We always use "Sir" or "Madam" ("Ma'am is considered casual, so not preferred").. Not only doctors, but every officers.
In Machinery we use more American names, like Truck (Lorry is the old kinds of trucks running since British days), use trailer, Sedan, Omni, etc.
Shantanu Gogoi (ASSAM)
I think I am right in saying that in the U.K. 7up is called just that. Lemonade is mainly used for a colourless, sweet carbonated drink although it is also sometimes used for a fizzy lemon flavoured drink (like bitter lemon). Soda is a colourless, carbonated drink originally made from Bicarbonate of Soda, which is used to mix with spirits such as "whisky & soda". This is the drink used in "soda syphons" - which I suppose is fairly obvious.
The above were sent in by Laura Blackwell who is an American living in Australia.
The following have all been contributed by Anne who, I am sure you will agree, has a way with words:-
Yet again I have been brought to task over the above entries. Aymie from Australia disagrees with some of the above definitions as follows:-
Malcolm has written to say -
"Arriving in Australia some 30 years ago, we were casually informed by a neighbour that his wife was 'in bed with a wog'.
Coming from the UK, we wondered why he treated this affair so lightly. Only later did we learn that she just had a touch of 'flu.
'Wog' in Strine is an infection (ie, a UK 'bug') - to us it was a highly abusive and politically incorrect term for a foreigner (usually of Arab or Asian origin).
[Incidentally, Durex tape was very much still in use in 1980 and sometimes caused me amusement or embarrassment in the office.]"
Amber Budden (Australia) has the following observations on the subject:-
A clarification on the "Napkin" thing - we call them "serviettes". Not sure what they are called in the UK. Some people will call them a napkin, it's another American phrase that is seeping into the culture.
I loved when I was in the UK that they called the petrol station a "Garage". Garage is used for a couple things, but mostly for a place where the car is repaired (eg - the car's in the garage this weekend, can I borrow yours?)
Beer mat - in Australia a beer mat is a mat that lays across the top of the counter of the bar/pub. I believe in the UK a beer mat is a "coaster" (round bit of cardboard that you put under your drink).
Some other fun Aussie stuff, not sure how many of it is the same or well known over there but:
Stubby Holder - what you put your can of drink in to keep it cold and your hands warm. Made out of wetsuit material usually.
Stubbies - can be a bottle of beer (I'll have a stubby) or the short shorts that AFL players wear.
Tinny - can of beer
"It'll go ya" - it will attack you (as in, "don't stir up the dog or it'll go ya". Incidentally stir up = wind up/agitate. Not sure if that's a universal term)
She'll be right. - "I hit my arm, but she'll be right". Means "it'll be OK". Can be said about almost anything. The cars playing up, but she'll be right. I have a sore head but she'll be right. This report is due in 30 minutes, but she'll be right. Etc.
No worries - not a problem. I mention this one because it's so widely used here, but I'm not sure if it's used in other places.
"Esky" = "Cooler" (the thing you put your ice and drinks in when you are going out for the day)
Quilt = doona.
"Knock off" = "finish". Eg "I knock off in 5 minutes". "knock off time is almost here". "I knocked off an entire pizza last night".
"Beer-O-Clock" = Knock off time :D
Thongs = Flip Flops. A Thong as Americans see it (the underwear) is called a G-String here. Some people might call a G string a thong, but mostly thongs go on your feet and g strings on your butt. Puts a new spin on the "Thong Song" that was put out a few years back. We never say Flip Flops. We know what it means but don't say it.
Dummy = Pacifier
Road Train = Lorry.
Ute = what an american might call a truck.
Capsicum = Bell Pepper or Pepper. A pepper here is a chilli pepper.
Aymie was pretty spot on about a few of her comments - we know what a barbie is and what a Barbie is, an eggplant is an eggplant (used to grow them in the backyard), etc, etc. My only bone of contention is that I disagree about apartment/flat. The majority of people I know say Flat not Apartment. Apartment is considered an American word by most of the people I know. this could be a state-wide difference. For example:
In South Aust. we have "Three
Corner Jacks". In Queendsland I think they are called "Bindis"
and in other states also called "prickers" or Prickles. SA also
has Star droppers and we say off instead of awff (just kidding QLD ;))
This subject has created a great deal of interest and input from visitors. For ease of use these have been split into several different pages including:-
a chart listing some of the differences between the more commonly used British/American words and phrases,
a second list of words and phrases which have different meanings.
Know of any more examples - then please send them in - firstname.lastname@example.org
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