Divided by a Common Language: A Guide to British and American English Paperback – 26 Sep 2007
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From the Author
Serious reference or humorous, yours to decide...
Having grown up in England, I ventured forth at the aged 20 to visit relatives in New Zealand. How could I possibly know at that time that England was never going to be home again.... After seven years down under, I settled in the United States in 1980. Twenty years later I am still fascinated by American culture. The linguistic differences are enormous. The words "tailback" and "dustman", mean nothing to the average American and probably never will in the foreseeable future. Brits coming over on "holiday" still use the terms, "bathing costume", and "flannel", much to the amusement of Americans within earshot.
In this book, I have tried to cover every aspect of the differences between British and American English, from spelling differences to pronunciation differences; even comparing different expressions used on the other side of the pond. I hope you enjoy the book with all its intrinsic humor, but I think having read the book, you'll be just as fascinated as I am by the vast linguistic gulf that separates the two countries. By the way, did you know that Americans have not always driven on the right? The details are in the book. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
CHRISTOPHER DAVIES was born and raised in England and spent several years living in Australia and New Zealand. In 1980 he settled in Florida. The many unfamiliar expressions and pronunciations that he encountered in American English led him to write Divided by a Common Language.
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Top Customer Reviews
Iris Forrest, Editor Ageless Press, Sarasota, Florida
Divided by a Common Language helped me overcome long-term misunderstandings about what I had been reading in English books. Some British words have an ordinary meaning in American English that is quite different from their British meaning. For example, the British "marrow" is a "large zucchini." For decades, I have been expecting to find beef marrow on my plate in England because of that misreading. I also thought that the British "paraffin" meant a petroleum-based wax as it does in the U.S., whereas it means "kerosene" in the U.K. In reading about someone going for paraffin in novels, I have been wondering what on earth they were going to make with all that wax. If you read this book, you will probably find your own examples of where you thought you knew what was going on . . . but really didn't. I suggest that you start with the British/American Lexicon to learn the most words with the least effort.
The book also has a useful section on British and American phrases, that should help you avoid inadvertently saying what will be perceived as vulgarities across the pond. For example, refer to "retrieving and returning baseballs" rather than "shagging flies" (make your own guess as to what that means, but it isn't nice).
In the vein of the potential for humorous miscommunications, there are a number of cartoons that show what John Bull and Uncle Sam are thinking about when the same word or phrase is said. "My wife loves pot plants, Sam" conjures up John Bull thinking about potted flowers while Uncle Sam imagines a garden full of marijuana plants.
I found four weaknesses in the book that you should be aware of.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Before buying this book, note that quite a few of the 5-star reviews are from 1998.
The information within is pretty dated; there's a section on how to use phone cards... Read more
An interesting read but nothing ground breaking. Like so many of these books they talk about Britain and British English as though time has stood still. Read morePublished on 16 Aug. 2010 by PD
Don't drop a clanger-make a big faux pas-when traveling in the U.K or the U.S.! This book is a terrific read for anyone planning a trip to Britain. Read morePublished on 9 Jun. 2006 by WriterGirl