princess genevieve

vendredi, octobre 14, 2005

The power of the English language

I've been having a little comment-conversation with Paisley which started with my question about sultanas. Once I learned a sultana is what I would call a raisin (which I already guessed, from my experience with a chocolate-and-sultana bar I had on a BMI flight) I asked what they call Raisin Bran. SULTANA BRAN. Which probably surprises no one, but it surprised me! So then I went to Australian Kellogg's where I learned that Rice Krispies in Australia are Rice Bubbles. Rice Bubbles! That's so cool.

You would think that someone who has lived abroad would be less excited about the variety of names for things, but whatever, I never lived in another English speaking country. I expect things to have different names in France, and I am surprised when they don't.

What's your favorite non-American word for something you call by a different name? Or even better, if you're not American, what's your favorite American word for something you call by a different name? I think I really like boot and bonnet for trunk and hood of a car. And I always feel strange saying "where's the toilet?" because, well, we just don't say that. And why do I call a napkin a napkin but other English speaking people call it a serviette which is what I call a napkin in French? And of course, there's the ever popular "good craic" in Ireland, but I don't think that counts since it's not really English.


At 10/17/2005 2:12 AM, Blogger Paisley said...

As an alternative to "Where's the toilet", you could use "Where's the loo?". Or you could go a bit more euphemistic and ask "Where's the little girls' room?".
Other differences: American babies wear diapers and suck pacifiers while their moms gossip on their cellphones. Australian babies wear nappies and suck dummies while their mums yak on their mobiles.
But the Americanism that intrigues me most is a "stick" of butter. My mum once found a recipe which called for an inch cut off a stick of butter. What the?

At 10/17/2005 9:52 AM, Blogger Genevieve said...

yeah, the first time someone asked me "where's the loo?" I had no idea what they were actually asking for.

butter doesn't come in sticks in Australia? a pound of butter here comes in 4 sticks. each stick is half a cup of butter. how do you get it? tbsp are marked on the wrapper so you can easily measure/cut for recipes.

At 10/17/2005 2:29 PM, Anonymous jayne said...

Attempting to translate from Taiwanese to English usually doesn't work too well and there are times I get myself confused in trying to do so. For instance, when you go into a restaurant, you don't place an order with your waiter, you call an order. And there's a lot of stuff that doesn't translate at all...I suppose this is typical of any language...

At 10/17/2005 9:26 PM, Blogger Paisley said...

We use metric in Australia so butter comes in 250g (0.5 lb) and 500g (1 lb)blocks (with grams marked on the wrapper).


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