back to article Vulture Central plans Brit-Yank dictionary

It's come to our attention (again) that some of our Stateside cousins continue to struggle with El Reg's flavour of the Beloved Mother Tongue™. We have, of course, in the past published a couple of brief guides to those terms which prove The Register is a fertile breeding ground for neologisms, as well as a treasure house for …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    How about


  2. Steve 64

    Usage question

    Thank you, this will be a welcomed resource. I've had for some time a usage question about British English that could probably be clarified with an example rather than a definition.

    Are Radiohead wankers and Coldplay tossers, or is it the other way around?

    Thanks again,


  3. Tawakalna

    ey up me duck? wus ow thi sthun

    ar dun say unny raysin fer brittis fowk fer goo pandrin tut bl**dy yanks, if thaym wuns fer spayk englis proper layk thun um shud lern fer towcrate layk usm dow, marrer.

  4. Greg J Preece

    This calls for some cheap shots!

    How about:






  5. Lloyd

    Aluminium? Leicester? Worcestershire Sauce?

    knackers to the lot a ya.

  6. Phil the Geek

    Horizontal dancing

    You had better explain "shagging" to our cousins. The poor deluded fools in South Carolina have a dance called The Shag and they display signs outside venues to advertise Public Shagging Contests. You can imagine the depth of my disappointment...

  7. Anonymous Coward

    The Welsh

    I have a good friend from Leeds who came to the US to work about 10 years ago. He tells me the Welsh have a certain affinity towards sheep. A co-worker from our UK division also eluded to the same thing. Any validity to that?

  8. Jonathan McColl

    Teach 'em to suck eggs

    I'm torn between the Pedant icon and the Get-my-coat one ...

    Direction words usually have an 's' as in towards/inwards/upwards. Without an 's' used as an adjective, as in a 'leftward movement.'

    We dropped the 'ten' from 'gotten' centuries ago, please try to keep up.

    Pants = lady's undergarment not trousers. Also another word for 'bad' as in "The film/dinner/new-IT-system was pants."

    Mince = very similar to 'pants' although maybe just in Scotland, where we also use 'neds' rather than the English 'chavs' but that's by the by.

    'Fanny' very specifically much more personal than the general 'bottom' they talk about on the far side of The Pond.

    Hare-brained is not spelled 'hair.'

    'Pissed' = drunk, it does not mean 'annoyed' (that's 'pissed off') And 'piss off' is an instruction to go away.

    Twig = understand.

    How hard are these wrap your heads around?

  9. W


    Don't forget Loogerberooger & Edinberrg!

  10. Bones


    I know it's not a spelling lingo issue, but the difference between a router and a router.

    As it a router - said in a yank way, is something i put nice curved edges into wood.

    A router in a UK accent is something that routes my network traffic.

    Every time I hear an America talk about a "rowter", I think of my black and decker with a network cable coming out of it!!

  11. Scott 19
    Thumb Up


    Just cut and past viz's profanisaurus, should keep them American friends of ours quite for hours.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    proper inglish init

    I don't particularly care what words get put in the dictionary, but please make sure you put the bloody 'u's in the correct place - it's colour!!!

    And for the love of all that's holy can someone please do something about Merkins trying to use nouns as verbs - see - "...When the temperature starts to excurse in a data center...". What the feck does that mean???

    (And BTW it's centre, not center!!!)


  13. thomas k.
    Paris Hilton


    Well, obviously, judging from photos, it's some sort of connector for attaching devices to European TVs.

    But perhaps an explanation of how it works and what type of devices use it might help.

  14. Glyn 2


    You're from Stoke too then

  15. Code Monkey

    @Steve 64

    Bad example. Both bands are both tossers and wankers.

  16. PaulR


    Hey, as a Yank, I use as a reference for Britspeak.

    I usually can figure out most things by context, but occasionally have to look something up.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    US: Something only done when the police have enough evidence to charge a person, this preserving the seriousness of the concept of depriving a person of their liberty.

    UK: Something done by a lazy police force looking to criminalise and catalogue the entire "civilian" population, when they cannot be bothered to work out on the spot that allegations might be groundless, but inconveniencing people who then have to submit to extra checks for jobs, travel, finance etc.

    Bitter? Yes

  18. Maverick
    Thumb Up

    how about . .

    the correct pronunciation of "router" ? and Wimbledon

    and please note that "Irregardless" and "getgo" annoy the sh*t out of us


    PS and my fellow Brits PLEASE would you bl**dy well stop using "different to"

    (I'm looking at you BBC pronunciation department)

  19. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    BBC America subtitles "skins" for us...

    They even have a funny little blurb about it beforehand. If you're that bored, I can dig it up and send it to you.

  20. The Original Ash


    Aluminium is actually pronounced Aluminum. The "I" was added by OSD scientists who didn't like that it didn't sound like a lot of the transition metals on the Periodic table.

  21. SuperTim

    Terrible consequences

    I was idly chatting to Jeffrey Dahmer one day many moons ago. I spied that he had a pack of marlboro in his coat so a said to him "If you are going to 'smoke a fag', can you do it elsewhere please". He left and then ..... Well you know the rest!

    My apologies to all, I have already collected my coat and am sprinting for the door.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    why take the fun out

    Half the fun of reading el reg is expanding my vocabulary.

    There's plenty of existing dictionaries, both on-line and books, where the ignorant can get an edumacation.

    No need to dumb yourselves down to the lowest common denominator.

  23. kevin biswas

    Ay say !

    What a jolly spiffing wheeze !

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Dictionary, but they can't spell?!

    Is there any point? If we are to believe all the linux and open-source evangelists we will all be drowning under a deluge of "amazing" open source software that _can't fucking spell_ anyway! Why have a dictionary at all when the English (British) version of Firefox underlines... colour, glamour, industrialise, grey, tyre, litre, metre... etc. etc. we might as well all be using txt spk or just watching TV eating crisps (because chips are something you get at the chip shop).

    Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-GB; rv:1.9.1) Gecko/20090624 Firefox/3.5

    That's not the only Yank trait these "slimmer and faster" products show... poor gas mileage (FF3.5 takes 1 minute to display a working browser window on a dual P3-800 WTF?) and it ate all the pies, then the burgers and half of the subway menu too... 83Mb memory to display this comments page (with Flash not installed & ABP). Bet it doesn't know what a fanny is either.

    Well I'm not going to give up! Hah. I'm gonna spell proper and go watch the Ashes.

    </rant><tea class="Earl Grey" sandwich="cucumber"/>

  25. Col 4

    Things to explain;



    Cockney rhyming slang; ruby, apples and pears, etc

    That we do celebrate Christmas...

    That we're not Australian.

    That a "hand tossed sausage lover" isn't a type of pizza.

    That "no ice" actually implies the absence of ice, rather that a large bucket full of it (and a "vermouth" of actual drink.)

  26. Keith Williams


    Can we have a sub-dictionary for use in translating comments from themanfrommars?

  27. Toastan Buttar

    Yank time-telling

    Could you tell this Brit what "a quarter of nine" means in terms of time-of-day ? I keep reading it in American horror novels. I think it's equivalent to "quarter to nine" (8:45) but I'd like to know for sure. Would you ever use "twenty to nine" to mean 8:40 ?

  28. Anonymously Deflowered


    The use of the word "cuffed" seems to cause problems with people thinking it means "lightly punched" instead of "handcuffed".

  29. Jimmy Floyd


    My friend once asked if he could "bum a fag." 'Nuff said.

    Lessons for the Yanks? How about Lessons For The Limeys? Too many of my fellow countrymen fail on the following:

    "at the weekend." (US: "on")

    "licence" (US: "license")

    "cricket" (US: a game where you have to ... erm ... with the ... stumps ... out ... in ... oh, never mind)

  30. Eponymous Cowherd

    Useful translations

    Here are some translations to help our American cousins when they visit the UK

    Bollocks = Zits

    "Can I have some cream for my bollocks"

    Shag = Chat

    "Do you fancy meeting up for a shag to catch up on old times"

    Bike = Babe

    "I hear your finance's a bit of a bike"

    Wanker=Martial Arts expert

    "Oh, you do Karate, Kung Fu *and* Ju-Jitsu. You must be a wanker"


    "Can I have a lick of your knob"

    Spunk = Spunk (exactly the same as the US)

    "You seem to be full of spunk, this morning".

  31. Some Guy


    Yeah, there are a lot of weird Brit words and and expressions, "Softly, Softly catchy monkey.."???

    But there are also many words Brits think are exclusive to Blighty, like strumpets and geezers with which we Yanks are quite familiar. Please have someone from the left side of the pond edit your list.

  32. Dave 32
    Paris Hilton


    Can someone explain this word to me. My SO, who is from the Great White North (Canada), where they still speak with a strange accent [1], occasionally says this word. ;-)

    [1] And, who, fortunately for me, doesn't regularly read The Reg!


    P.S. Paris, because, well, she sort of looks like my SO.

  33. Michael O'Malley

    Having some crack in America

    You think you Brits have a problem? We Irish arrive in America, and at the airport we ask the immigration officials where we can find some crack. There is a rush of uniforms ...

    We finally get that misunderstanding sorted out. Then our daughter wants to do some drawing, but makes some mistakes. We try to buy a rubber, explaining that we want to have some fun with our little daughter...

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pedantic buggers you lot

    It's MY language, myaa myaa, speak properly like us. You bloody stuck-up self important petty little whingers. I'm faintly ashamed to be british (and you can capitalise that for me) if you also fall under that banner (and 'petty little' is indeed a redundancy so live with it).

    My linguistic clarification, blow is understood by my US mates as snortable coke, not the weed/resin that goes into left handed cigarettes as I know it. Caused them some unease first time round.

    Anon because of the drug references and not the opening para. Which is a pathetic reflection on our society.

  35. GregC

    The one that really hacks me off...

    is "could care less", as in "I could care less about it". It's COULDN'T. As in, "it is not possible for me to care any less about this than I already do"


  36. StillNoCouch

    Do the English have a word for ...

    Dentistry ?

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm pretty sure it means pleased with oneself.

  38. Anonymous Coward

    To aid a former US President...

    ...can you clarify what "is" means?

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Steve 64

    >British English

    There is no such thing. English is English full stop. The only possibly legitimate qualifier would be pidgin English which is probably what you wrongly call american English.

  40. Alex Barwick

    Sheep shagers

    You are correct jdandison that the Welsh do have the reputation of having a certain affinity with sheep as do people of the Romney Marsh but there is a rumor of interbreeding with them as well. There is an old joke about a young man from the Romney Marsh who was talking to a friend and said " I made love to my first woman in the corner of that field and her mother was standing in that corner", the friend asked what the mother said, young man replied" Baaa Baaa".

    Ok Ok my coat is with shepherd's crook

  41. Anonymous Coward


    I'd just like to to point out that English is a language, while American is an accent!

  42. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: The one that really hacks me off...

    No no no. "I *could* care less about this, but I don't think I can be bothered."

    I love that one. Especially because it really irritates people. See also: "pissed" to mean "pissed off". Somehow "pissed" on its own sounds much angrier and more serious.

  43. John70

    All together now....

    Wheear 'as ta bin sin ah saw thee,

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at?!

    Wheear 'as ta bin sin ah saw thee?

    Wheear 'as ta bin sin ah saw thee?

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at?!

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at?!

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at?!

    Tha's been a cooartin' Mary Jane

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    Tha's been a cooartin' Mary Jane

    Tha's been a cooartin' Mary Jane

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    Tha's bahn t'catch thi deeath o'cowd

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    Tha's bahn t'catch thi deeath o'cowd

    Tha's bahn t'catch thi deeath o'cowd

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    Then we shall ha' to bury thee

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    Then we shall ha' to bury thee

    Then we shall ha' to bury thee

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    Then t'worms 'll cum and eat thee oop

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    Then t'worms 'll cum and eat thee oop

    Then t'worms 'll cum and eat thee oop

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    Then ducks 'll cum and eat oop t'worms

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    Then ducks 'll cum and eat oop t'worms

    Then ducks 'll cum and eat oop t'worms

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    Then we shall go an' ate oop ducks

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    Then we shall go an' ate oop ducks

    Then we shall go an' ate oop ducks

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    Then we shall all 'ave etten thee

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    Then we shall all 'ave etten thee

    Then we shall all 'ave etten thee

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

    On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

  44. Andrew 98

    @The Welsh

    Quite rare, and furthermore, only with those for export to be eaten by Englishmen!

  45. Paul Ross
    Thumb Up

    i know...

    Define 'gunt'

  46. Anonymous Coward

    @ The Original Ash

    'Aluminium is actually pronounced Aluminum'

    Nope, it's 'aluminium' according to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (head boffins in the bangs and smells division). Sir Humphry Davy called it aluminum in 1812 before it had been isolated as an element, but this was objected to as long ago as 1813 with the 'ium' ending given on the grounds that it sounded 'more classical'.

    Humphry Davy had previously called it 'alumium' but he might have been off his face on nitrous oxide at the time.

    Just in case the Brits get too smug, the American spelling of 'sulfur' is the correct one. I use it just to piss off my pedantic colleagues.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    HP = Brown sauce

  48. Anonymous Coward

    Get an education

    the people that live in the colonies really should get a grip on what the local versions of words mean. this colonial independence caper was destinged to ruin from the beginning

  49. frank ly

    @jdandison re. The Welsh

    Any place where sheep farming is a noticeable activity gets these comments from their neighbours. I believe that Australians make similar jokes about New Zealanders. (How they can do that when they have, or had, massive sheep farming themselves is a mystery).

    Anyway, it gets lonely out on the moors and in the hills, cold too on those winter nights..........

  50. Hawkmoth
    Thumb Up

    tips, skips, punters, tah, cheers, and all that

    Great topic, although after living three years in Britain, I'm mostly bilingual now, nonetheless I am sure others will benefit. My list of interesting britishisms that yanks could learn?

    "tip" (dump) including in expressions like "your room is a tip!"

    "skip" (dumpster, what you send "rubbish" to the "tip" in)

    "lay by" (rest area)

    "punters" (I'm still not sure about this one but could be somewhere between "booster", "promoter", and "schill" which is itself a borrowing from Yiddish).

    "tah" and "cheers" (largely untranslatable but something like "thanks, have a nice day")

    "O-levels" and "A-levels" (no US equivalent though we're getting there with the no-child-left-behind mess)

    "free-hold" at term of estate agents (real estate agents) which I believe means you have what in the U.S. is called fee ownership, and there are other property ownership types that are possibly relevant and definitely untranslatable.

    "bespoke" (custom, custom made)

    "engineer" which in Britain means a blue-collar technician who fixes your washing machine, but in the U.S. is someone with a wall full of diplomas who invents new kinds of washing machines

    "washing up liquid" also "fairy liquid" which gave me great pause the first time I heard it

    "pudding" (any dessert among the classes to whom pudding (US usage) would appeal)

    "quid" (a blob of chewing, not that one, you mean "buck" as in slang for a dollar)

  51. Anonymous Coward

    Some things are just the same, some things are a little different

    Things that differ

    American: Weapons of mass destruction

    British: Thumbprint on the photo

    Things that are the same

    American: Intelligent leadership (Bush)

    British: Same, we have no idea what it means either.

    American: Intelligence Agency

    British: Same, all f*kwits

    American: Honest politician

    British: wtf?

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Softly softly catchee monkey

    "From the people of Ghana, Baden-Powell learnt the phrase `softly softly catchee monkey' - and he learnt that he could get the best work out of his force by dividing it into small groups, or patrols, and giving responsibility to the captain of each group."

    Apparently ... personally I think your better off using a net of some kind.

  53. hugo tyson


    "elude" versus "allude", apparantly. ;-)

    All this arises because I and a 'Merkin say the following true statement in two different ways:

    "The English word for English is English; the English word for American English is American English"

    "The English word for English is English; the British word for English is American English, but the British word for British English is English - whoa, that's confusing..."

  54. Anonymous Coward

    @ The Original Ash

    "Aluminium is actually pronounced Aluminum. The "I" was added by OSD scientists who didn't like that it didn't sound like a lot of the transition metals on the Periodic table."

    Aluminium is actually pronounced just how it is spelt (go and check in the Oxford English Dictionary). The original spelling was Alumium, followed by Aluminum. By 1812, Aluminium was settled on as the correct spelling on both sides of the pond. There was some confusion in the 19th century with the -ium spelling in common scientific usage (in papers and patents), but the Websters dictionary listed the -um spelling. Although the Webster dictionary of 1913 actually listed the -ium spelling. In 1926 the American Chemical Society officially changed the name to the -um suffix.

    Next time you try and be pedantic, at least research your response.


  55. james 68


    shouldnt that read:


    US: Something done by a lazy police force looking to criminalise and catalogue the entire "civilian" population, when they cannot be bothered to work out on the spot that allegations might be groundless, but inconveniencing people who then have to submit to extra checks for jobs, travel, finance etc usually carried out after a jolly good tasering with or without serious beating and possible gunshot wounds.

    UK: Something done by a lazy police force looking to criminalise and catalogue the entire "civilian" population, when they cannot be bothered to work out on the spot that allegations might be groundless, but inconveniencing people who then have to submit to extra checks for jobs, travel, finance etc, standard fare for anyone with a camera or general interest in photography."

    in the interest of full disclosure - i have been arrested on both sides of 'the pond'

    in new york - for asking directions (apparantly they frown on being called arrogant bastards after theyve told you to fuck off for asking a simple question)

    in belfast - for walking down the street listening to my walkman (seriously, apparantly i ignored repeated orders from an officer i didnt even see as he pulled up from behind, much less hear and was classed as an agitator involved in the rioting which was occuring approx 2 bloody miles away)

  56. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge


    Could there be a footnote stating that apostrophes are not solely used in science fiction character names ( D'Avid T'Watdangle ), and that there is significant difference between their, there and they're, your and you're, its and it's.

    A second footnote reminding Brits of the same would not go amiss.

  57. Anonymous Coward

    @AC: Pedantic buggers you lot

    Redundancy is what happens when you let American bankers lend money they don't have to people who can't pay it back... repackage is as sound investments & sell it on to the rest of the world... recession featuring lots and lots of redundancy.

    You are thinking of tautology which is the use of words repeating the meaning of previously used words.

  58. Dave in the States
    Paris Hilton


    Router vs. Router??? We in the midwest pronounce the Black & Decker variety and the Cisco variety the same, your "rowter" I guess. How do you pronounce the Cisco variety??

    Paris, 'cause I'm as confused as she appears.

  59. Brian Miller 1

    Clarty Bas

    UK = US

    Radge, Chav, Townie, Bampot, Schemie, Ned = Scum

    Cadger = Dirty Thief (i.e. can I cadge a fag off ye)

    Fag = Lammy Bammy, Richmond, John Player Specials, or if you are down and out Mayfair

    Blagger = Charismatic Liar

    Giro Day = The happiest day of the week for Radges

    Fudge-packer = Fag

    Chib = Stab

    "Square Goes" = Traditional Glaswegian dance usually performed outside. Think square dance

    Nuggets = Great

  60. Britt Johnston

    why not collaborate?

    Perhaps you could share your algorithms with Google. I stuffed your article into their translator - from "identify language" to "English" - and it didn't change a word. I guess that means you're perfect.

  61. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    @Billy Whiz

    To be fair the Merkin habbit of "verbing" words has spread to Britain, unfortunately. I think the best comment on this annoying habbit came from Bill Watterson (a yank!) in his Calvin and Hobbes cartoon.

    Calvin: Verbing weirds language.

    Hobbes: Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding.

  62. Anonymous Coward

    A fairly complete conversion...

    I've had this in my archive for a while, but fraid I cant find the original author details....

    UK -> US

    biscuit -> cookie

    scone -> biscuit

    lump of dough -> scone

    fag -> cigarette

    gay -> happy

    socialist -> communist

    whig -> socialist

    tory -> democrat

    right-wing tory -> republican

    green -> tree-hugging

    bloke -> buddy

    sod -> f*ck

    oops -> f*ck

    oh -> f*ck

    jolly -> f*cking

    very -> f*cking

    really -> f*cking

    quite -> f*cking

    guy -> motherf*cker

    bloody -> motherf*cking

    darn -> motherf*cking

    , -> , you know,

    . -> , know what I mean?

    ! -> , man!

    nude -> pornographic

    nudity -> porn

    flat -> apartment

    lift -> elevator

    chemists -> drug store

    loo -> rest room

    complain -> sue

    chips -> fries

    maize -> corn

    corn -> grain

    coffee -> espresso

    tepid water -> coffee

    cold water -> beer

    tipsy -> drunk

    drunk -> plastered

    pissed -> dead drunk

    annoyed -> pissed

    irate -> postal

    nice -> cool

    cool -> cold

    cold -> freezing

    snow -> snow storm

    drizzle -> rain storm

    rain -> flood warning

    light breeze -> wind storm

    windy -> hurricane

    foreign weather -> sunshine

    brolly -> umbrella

    telly -> TV

    umpire -> referee

    bowler -> pitcher

    football -> soccer

    Hope that helps someone....

  63. W
    Thumb Up



    Especially when the Brit version of "I couldn't care less", spoken hurriedly, results in a deliciously satisfying sly use of the C- word.

    Here's another one: "We don't got X". "We do not got X", eh? Tsk.

    Surely, by any standard measure, it's "We don't have X" (We do not have X) or "We haven't got X" (We have not got X).

    Presumably it comes from "We got it", used in the present tense, as a shortening of "We've got it".

    I can see _some_ merit in logical, contracted spellings. But it's disappointing when corruptions are a case of plain ignorance rather than a sensible 'evolution of the language'.

    Although, to be honest, the UK-ians have nothing to be smug about. *They're* particularly bad when *their* use of *there* is so embarassingly to cock.

    <us-ian>Go figure.</us-ian>

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Chris Morley


    1. The state of being redundant; a superfluity; something redundant or excessive; a needless repetition in language; excessive wordiness.

    Tautology <> will also work. I could have used both but that would be a redundancy.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @Dave in the States

    In the UK route is pronounced "root" just like the song Route 66. So... Cisco router is "rooter" whereas a "wood edgeing machine" as a "rauter".

    What I want to know is how can you yanks sing it right yet say it wrong?

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @Dave in the States & @Sarah

    "How do you pronounce the Cisco variety??"

    Answer: Rooter (which, from my current sojourn in Canada had led me to understand that this is what you Yanks call "Toilet Cleaner"

    "No no no. "I *could* care less about this, but I don't think I can be bothered."

    Sorry Sarah, I'm with the other commentator - the Yanks are just plain confused on this one. I hear it all the time and it just doesn't make any sense.

    One more for the pot - the Yanks also say "Are you going to fix that or no?" instead of "...or not?". True of the Canadians also.

    If you substitute the word back into the sentence it makes you, inexplicably, sound like a Scot: "Are you no going to fix that?"

  67. steward

    Don't bother with a list...

    just license (or licence, on your side of the pond) Facebook's automatic translating system. They have three kinds of English available:

    UK English

    US English

    Pirate English

    I think most people on both sides of the pond will wind up selecting the 3rd setting anyway...

  68. Dan 21

    @Jason Bloomberg

    On the west side of the pond, all homonyms are used interchangably. Ewe half know weigh of noing how hard its two reed.

    Once my supervisor wrote a memo with the subject "Your customer's think your great!!!". That job brought me to tears.

    On "router": in USAian, the rotary woodcrafting tool and the networking device are pronounced the same way, with a short 'o' sound. "Row-ter" would be the pronunciation of "Rotor", the portion of a motor or generator that turns (Compare the decapitating portion of a helicoptor, contrast "stator")

    Also, terms of alcohol consumption: What do all of your different words for "Beer" mean? (Over here, any beverage formed from the fermentation of starches without distillation is "beer". Fruits make "wine".)

  69. Britt Johnston

    spade call

    While I understand a journalist's need to puff thin copy and pass it off as quality, most foreign readers would do better with clear ideas and plain language; so would most English speakers, if it comes to that.

    I'll stop short of telling you which 3000 words to use, because I sometimes enjoy the fun.

  70. wurdsmiff

    @ Anonymous Coward Posted Thursday 16th July 2009 15:44 GMT

    You may have a point but the Oxford English Dictionary records usage rather than prescribing it. A word can be included just because that's the way people spell, as opposed to being the way it is supposed to be spellled. Hence the, sometimes extensive, lists of alternative spellings as sources throughout the ages spell things whichever way they damn well like. As a result, it's possible to find a whole host of 'incorrect' spellings in the OED. The wikipedia article has a fair bit about this.

    On this (rather dull) note, I can't help but wonder if this is how one of my most hated words - resorb - came about. Perhaps as the result of some lazy boffin bastard not being arsed to include all the letters required to spell reabsorb, which seems to have exactly the same meaning.

    Mine's the one with the new leather patches on the elbows

  71. Robert Hill

    From a UK-resident New Yorker...

    Things I've had to figure out that exclude the above (I hope):

    "on offer" - means for sale, sometimes seems to mean on special offer (on sale)

    "footy" - not the part of your body that supports you, but a ballgame with many, many supporters

    "garden" - actually means the entire back or front yard, not just the planted bits

    "fanny" - not the hind side, the bits on the other side of the girl

    "yuf" - Brit expression that encompasses the deep respect and love they have for the next generation of well-behaved citizens

    "council" - local governments, adept at income-redistribution to recent immigrants and non-workers, providing housing for free to same, and writing parking tickets.

    "sorted" - fixed or solved

    "drinker" - usually a place where drinking takes place, rather than the person doing the drinking

    "off-license" - a place to legally buy alcohol that may be consumed away from it's licensed establishment, i.e. a package store, liquor store, etc.

    "tea" - not just the main British drink, but also confusingly used to mean supper

    There must be more, but this is what pops into the head at present...

  72. pctechxp

    Pronunciation of names

    I've watched the yank news recently (ABC world news is broadcast on Beeb news channel in the small hours) and I'me fed up of hearing that disgraced and now convicted fund manager named as BERRnard Madoff.

    So but its just plain Bernard, I know that sounds a bit mundane but hey it is a British name after all.

    Oh and by the way check (as in the piece of paper you an amount on and hend to comeone as a payment method) is spelt cheque.

  73. Jason Togneri

    @ Dave in the States

    Router vs router: in the UK, it's pronounced the same as 'route' - but to further clarify, it's like "root" in "root beer" (which incidentally is called "ginger beer").

    What I'd like to have properly classified are food items. As far as I'm aware, all of the following similar items have different meanings for Yanks and Brits:


    In the UK, it's what a Yank would call a "cookie" - a hard sweet baked thing. In the US, it's a softer thing similar to a UK "scone".


    In the UK, it's usually specifically a chocolate-chip cookie (although in Scotland, a plain 'cookie'). For the US, it's the same range of what Brits would call biscuits.


    In the UK, it's a soft, baked bread-type thing, often served with cream or jam. In the US, this is what Yanks refer to as a "biscuit", while a scone for Yanks is made differently and more often crumbly than flaky, and in some regions refers to a deep-fried flattened bread (similar to a bannock).

    So, in summary, a translation for Brits going to the USA:

    Biscuit = a quick bread similar to a scone

    Cookie = a biscuit

    Scone = variation of a scone made with shortening, or a deep-fried flat bread

    And a translation for Yanks visiting the UK:

    Biscuit = a cookie

    Cookie = a cookie

    Scone = a biscuit

    There were a couple of others along the same lines, but I forget them. It's really hard to make parallels with these foods in UK and US, because the same words exist but mean different things, and to not use the correct word means a long-winded explanation instead. I hope this made sense because it was damnedably hard to write.

  74. Ben Ryves

    @Dave in the States

    "Router" is "rooter", in the way that "route" is pronounced the same as "root". There's an "l" in "solder", too.

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @The Original Ash

    Contrary to what some anonymous coward says up there, the yanks have it on this one. Some hack decided aluminum didn't sound right and managed to publicise his own preference rather than the creator's choice. Of course, the person who talks about the work always wins over the person who does the work and these days we've settled on aluminium.

  76. Mad Hacker

    Rubber = Eraser

    Had a friend go into a Hallmark store (stationary store in the U.S.) and ask for a rubber. The old lady behind the counter was very offended.

  77. Chris McDevitt

    It's been done already

  78. Kurt Guntheroth

    good luck

    When you do this thankless task, you will find that some words are in common use in parts of the US, but unusual in other parts. Plus some people have larger vocabularies than others.

    The Queen's English appears to far more profane than you would see in most US publications. But perhaps that's just Register charm school training.

    Most words you can find by googling "define: foo"

    The word that gave me the most head-scratching was "quango".

  79. Jeremy 2

    "Dave in the States.

    The Cisco variety is a 'Rooter'.

  80. Anonymous Coward

    @Dave in the States

    It all stems from your pronouncing the root word wrong. Route is pronounced root not rout, even if you pretend you are pronouncing it like the french you are doing it wrong. therefore router (cisco type) is pronounced rooter.

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE:Router vs. Router

    Black and decker => rowter

    Cisco => rooter

  82. Pirate Dave Silver badge

    how about...

    "kaniggets". As in "I blow my nose at you, so-called Arthur-king. You and all your silly English Kaniggets."

    Or the one I see all the time here in the comments - "IT Angle"? So what IS the "IT Angle"?

    I'm Merican and we don't wear coats in the summer, so I'll just be leaving, thanks.

  83. Anonymous John


    UK English: To send suspects to another country for trial

    US English: Er....

  84. Peyton

    ooh ooh pick me pick me

    Slang is usually not a bother - just double click that mess, right click and and select "search google for" - sometimes have to add "brit slang" to narrow in on things.

    BUT - the real challenge - especially if you want to venture into uncharted waters and borrow some slang, is knowing whether or not it's "dated". Even urban dictionary often fails there. Ahhh, El Reg would be 100% dro if they managed that.

    Any words in the above missive that seem odd are, apparently, due to my American "accent." psh, as if... you bunch of ass goblins...

  85. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    @Mike Richards

    "Just in case the Brits get too smug, the American spelling of 'sulfur' is the correct one. I use it just to piss off my pedantic colleagues."

    Ah, but only for chemical formulae, raising the intriguing possibility of using both spellings correctly in the same sentence. Colo(u)r is similar, having been adopted as a technical term in particle physics. For example: "I'll colour the gluons according to their color.".

    And just in case either the Brits or the Yanks get smug, it is pretty unlikely that a dialect from either country will be the standard form of English by the end of the century. (If you listen to 100-year old sound recordings, it is pretty obvious that this wasn't true in the 20th century either.)

  86. Steve Evans


    Oh I'm glad I'm not alone with the rOWter cringe.

    For the 'merkins, we pronounce the network device "Roo-ter", and the woodwork tool "rOWter".

    Also Jaguar is pronounced Jag-You-Are, not JagWaaaah.

    Oh, and 'merkin is slang for American... Cos a brit saying "A Merkin" sounds like an American saying "American"... It also happens to be a pubic wig, which just seals the deal in my book!

    To go out and get pissed on a Friday night is a normal evening involving no anger. It is also quite common to nip outside work and suck on a fag for five minutes.

    Saying "You're mad/crazy" to someone in the UK never seems to cause the same look of horror you get if you say it to a foreigner. I can only assume the rest of the planet are having doubts about their sanity or anger management.

    UK ----- US

    Tramp = Bum

    Bum = Ass / fanny

    Arse = Ass

    Ass = Mule

    For some reason there seem to be a huge number of words only one step away from your backside.

    Talking of which... In the UK, a Lady will not ask if her fanny looks big in something, and nobody has a fanny bag!

    Use of such words will cause instant smirks from all Brits in a 100ft radius.

    Oh, and just because we're lumped in with Europe, don't sit there going um and erm when it comes to measurements and such like, we can use both metric and imperial (we've been using them longer than you have!), and hop back and forth between them depending on which is the nicest number. Much to the annoyance of the French.

    Annoying the French is our reason d'etre after all :-)

    And remember, just when you think you understand everything an Englishman says, he can just switch to English English (See Austin Powers sketch with Michael Caine

  87. Anonymous Coward

    @Dave in the States

    Say the word Route (as in 66), then add the sound "err" to the end.

  88. Jack Klein

    The trouble is...

    ...that you Brits don't speak no good nitedstates.

  89. Tom Maddox Silver badge

    @Chris Morley and others

    A tautology is a circular argument. If British English doesn't have a word for "redundancy," that would explain why Americans had to repurpose it.

    What's interesting to me is that the French-hating English (the people not the language) have opted to keep their language as close to French as possible instead of allowing it to evolve away as America has done.

    On a more serious note, American English is a dialect, not an accent.

  90. Gilbo
    Paris Hilton


    You could just go here:

    Paris - Because I've seen both her fannies.

  91. steve-C


    I cannot see why anyone should make an effort to think down to the level of these idiots, what's next, a picture version? a scratch and version?

    Sod that, if you can't read Engerlish, then use a translator to translate it to some language you DO speak.

    Never heard the like of it, providing assitance for people who spell like 4 year olds is fine if you're a special needs school, but not an IT webshite.

    Odd though that they often elect the MOST poorly educated of their number......must be to make the rest of them feel better.

  92. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Really, I assumed the Yanks had changed it because they couldn't work the P and the H together.

  93. Robert Forsyth

    Router Tooter

    The route from A to B is pronounced like root, the network thingy does routing (data packets) and is a router. Then there is the thing for cutting slots, which is routing rhyming with outing.

    Toot: a short bottom burp.

    Bum bag - F.A.N.Y. pack (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry) carried a first-aid kit on their belts.

  94. Mark Monaghan

    If your name is Randolph...

    Do not go up to people and say "I'm Randy" as this can be seriously misunderstood.

  95. Mark Monaghan

    @Dave in the states

    >How do you pronounce the Cisco variety??

    We say "rooter" as in "Route 66"

  96. Anonymous Coward

    Don't do it!

    I feel confident that El Reg is safe for me to read at work (in the US) mainly because I'm fairly sure that no one who wanders along and sees it over my shoulder will actually understand the headlines. If a translation key becomes available, what then???

  97. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Arse vs. Ass

    They you are minding your own business ready to relax to some nice bestal porn only to be shocked and deeply disappointed.

    Mine's the one with the kitchen roll in the pocket.

  98. Mage Silver badge

    Router vs. Router???

    Root-er = box with wire

    Row-ter = motor with 20,000rpm sharpo bit.

  99. pctechxp

    Pronunciation of names (corrected)

    I've watched the yank news recently (ABC world news is broadcast on the Beeb news channel in the small hours) and I'm fed up of hearing that disgraced and now convicted fund manager named as BERRnard Madoff.

    Sorry but its just plain Bernard, I know that sounds a bit mundane but hey it is a British name after all.

    Oh and by the way check (as in the piece of paper you write an amount on and hand to someone as a payment method) is spelt cheque.

    Apologies for the appalling spelling earlier but brain was working quicker than I could type and I had to do some WORK.

  100. Anonymous Coward

    @Tom Maddox & AC

    "A tautology is a circular argument."

    No it isn't. Open a dictionary & read the entry.

    Chambers says:

    tautology noun (tautologies) 1 the use of words which repeat the meaning found in other words already used, as in I myself personally am a vegetarian. 2 logic a statement which is necessarily always true. tautological or tautologous adj. tautologically adverb.

    ETYMOLOGY: 16c: from Greek tautologos, from tauto same + legein to say.

    Longmans says:

    tau‧tol‧o‧gy [See pronunciation table in "How to use dictionary" pages] plural tautologies [uncountable and countable] technical

    a statement in which you say the same thing twice using different words in a way which is not necessary, for example, 'He sat alone by himself.' [↪ redundant]

    Even knows the definition.

    French and Greek are quite different languages too... French having its basis in Latin.

    @AC: 16:23 GMT

    You too should open a dictionary... or point your web browser at one

    redundancy noun (redundancies) 1 the state of being redundant, or an instance of this. 2 a the condition of being no longer needed in a company, organization, etc; b dismissal from work as a result of this; c someone who is dismissed in this way. 3 superfluity; the condition of being unnecessary to the meaning of the sentence, etc.

    Tautology is the correct word pertaining to language. If you're going to miss the joke about pedants perhaps you should do some research before posting?

  101. disgruntled yank

    Re: Yank Time Telling

    Mr. Buttar: "quarter of nine" (pronounced kworderanine) is in fact 8:45. Be glad that we throw in any preposition at all--as I recall, the Germans don't.

  102. Alan Ferris


    How about the difference between Ensure ( = make certain) and Insure ( take a policy out with an Insurance company)? Despite the fact that even our transatlantic throwers of tea parties don't talk about Ensurance companies, they still struggle with this one.

    There's that wonderful line in Mary Poppins where Mr Banks says that throwing the tea overboard made the tea undrinkable, even for the Americans

    BTW, those people across the pond speak the word "route" as if rhymes with "doubt", which probably explains their problems with the word "Cisco"

  103. James 55
    Thumb Up


    Cos kick a bo agin a wo and y'ed it till yer bost it.

    PS. Promise to always use pounds sterling in money matters and not use $. If necessary also put $ in brackets but not pounds sterling. Thanks.

  104. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Tom Maddox

    Actually US English is much closer to French in many respects than is English. the US ending -ize for example = Froggy but we use -ise which was Caxton. Who was definitely English. But admittedly a bit poncy.

    I can assure you most stridently that English is constantly evolving. We take words and phrases that we like (mainly ones that express a sentiment in one or two words rather than a whole sentence) and, after a degree of Anglicisation, incorporate them. If you look at the etymology English is closer to the old Germanic languages than the Romance ones anyway.

    However, IIRC your last head of state said something on the lines of "The problem with the French is they have no word for 'entrepreneur'"* which is both so French and so American at the same time that it writes its own punchlines.

    *even if this is not true it is funny enough to be so.

  105. Simon Williams 2

    After all that

    Niche ( there is an accent over the e but you have to imagine real hard to see it)

    It's pronounced Neesh not Nitch. Every time I hear you people dumb it down, I just want to hop on a plane, fly over there and punch you in the face. Seriously, sort it out.

  106. Grease Monkey Silver badge


    Many years ago I was in the states and I was told by somebody that Merkins pronounce French words correctly, whereas brits do no. The guy seemed to be basing his entire argument on two words. One was "lootenant" the other was "erb". OK so the English pronunciation of the former is downright confusing, but the French do no pronounce it Loo-Tennant. The latter is as far as I'm aware is a perfectly valid English word and is correctly pronounced with the H. The French spell it with an extra E, so it's a different word.

    However his entire argument fell appart when I asked him to name a particular car. He called it a Cadillac Coop Di Vill. There you go then, perfect french pronunciation.

    Now before any yanks choose to jump on me about the average Brits failure to pronounce foreign names correctly, you're dead right. The difference is that we don't get on our high horse about it, we know we're crap at foreign languages. But to the guy commentating at Laguna Seca a couple of weeks back it's not Chris VermOOlen, OK?

    The most interesting linguistic event on that visit to the states came when I was introduced to and old lady in Kansas. It was explained that I was visiting from England and she asked how long I'd been in the country. When I replied "about a month" she told me I'd picked up the language really well and spoke it "like a native". Well, duh!

  107. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    a descriptive heading or caption

    May I offer my most enthusiastic contrafribularities in advance on hearing of your forthcoming dictionary.

  108. jake Silver badge
    Jobs Halo


    They were called rowters right from the git-go. Trust me, I was there. Cisco calls 'em rowters. End of discussion.

    Root beer (brewed with sassafras) is NOT ginger beer (brewed with ginger).

    Funny story: My family has always used "owt" and "nowt" and other Yorkshirisms, since before my 70+ year old mum can remember. Naturally, growing up here in Northern California, I learned early on to speak more commonly used English, but when visiting the Grandparants I always drifted into a vague Yorkshire accent. When we landed in Yourkshire and I entered school (high school, 2nd year), one of my class mates hit me with the classic:

    See all, hear all, say nowt.

    Sup all, eat all, pay nowt.

    An' if tha does owt for nowt, do it for thissen.

    He was hoping to confuse me, as schoolboys will when outsiders join their school. I answered in his own dialect (something like "tell us summit ah don kna, lad". Naturally, the class thought I was taking the mick & the teacher sent me to the Headmaster. I explained that I learned the dialect from my grandfather, but had no idea where he learned it (most of my G.Grandparents were Finns). The Head called my mum, and she corroborated my story and I went back to class.

    Several years later, between lower & upper 6th, said Grandfather died. It was summer vacation, so I was allowed to go help clean his things out of the house. Amongst his possessions was my Great Grandfather's diary, containing the details of his trip across the country by covered wagon ... It turns out he had learned English during that trip from his first wife, a Plains Indian, who had learned English from her first husband, a Yorkshireman. Small world :-)

    To wrap things up, take it from someone who has spent time on both sides of the pond ... Yanks and Brits are a LOT more alike than you might think. Most of the posturing is simple fear of the unknown. I think it was Samuel Clemens who said "Americans and the British are two great people separated by a common language" ... viv l'difference, I say!

  109. Grease Monkey Silver badge


    Funny isn't it that the word "British" seems to mean "English" to both the English and the citizens of the USA. El Reg at least seems to be confusing a narrow form of English English, if you will, with British English which is about forty seven different languages.

    For example a Scottish woman living in our village refers to the kids on the council estate as neds. You might call them chavs, in some parts of the country they might be called pikeys, but elsewhere pike would mean gypsy. Of course to confuse things more the word chav supposedly has Romany roots. Elsewhere in Britain those self same kids might be called townies, charvers or scallies or many other names. So don't go giving me that UK > US crap when what you mean is south east England > US.

    Funny, but only tenuously linked story.

    Victor Spinetti was once collecting an award in New York. Before he went up to collect it somebody told him there were a lot of "his countrymen" in New York so it would be great if he gave the acceptance speech in his native language. He was surprised by this, but went for it and gave the speech in Welsh to a totally bemused audience. Or at least that's the way he tells it.

    This probably says more about thedifferent British and American attitudes to nationality than language. Spintti's grandfather may have been Italian, but he considered himself Welsh. Many Americans with an Italian grandfather would consider themselves to be Italian.

    I met an American in Cork once who told me she was Irish. "Really? You don't sound it." She replied that she was in fact born in Chicago, but her father was Irish. So I asked where her father had been born. "Minneapolis" came the obvious reply. Yes I know it's a horrible stereotype, but it's a true story.

  110. Anonymous Coward

    The different games of football

    "American football; it's rugby with blokes dressed in quilts." - Podcast Paul

    "Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and, at the end, the Germans win." - Gary Lineker

  111. Steve Dulieu

    Here's another one...

    In the UK pickle is what a 'Merkin would call relish, not a green abomination lurking in a jar with it's chums at the back of a chippie.

    What a 'Merkin would call a pickle, a Brit would call a gurkin.

    Once saw this cause a truly splendid culture clash in the Highgate Wertherspoons when a chap from the left hand side of the pond didn't get quite what he was expecting with his ploughman's lunch.

    Cheers, Steve.

  112. Roland 1

    Chuffed to bits!

    I'm chuffed to bits == absolutely pleased

    absolutely gutted == couldn't feel worse, rather disappointed


    in the US 'news' it seems the use of the words 'plaudits' and 'pundits' is taking off. Now oft-used by anchor people who previously were in charge of finding newsworthiness in small youtube clips of cockateels on motorcycles, etc. And were really happy when that became either 'headline news' or 'breaking news'...

    bike / motorbike / motorcycle / bicylce....

  113. Anonymous Coward

    Well in for a penny in for a pound.

    Hmm, I suppose if your gona have Chav you also need NED.

    Then there is things like 'old bean'.

    Hmm, you know I could unload a pile of old Scottish words here, but I am not sure I feel like reading all the old Welsh, Irish + world and dogs ones, so I will keep mine to my self.

    O'yea, describing somthing as 'Barry' as in a good thing, and of course the 'Malky' not a good thing in general. I wonder if world war 3 will be described by the chips and roachs as a 'Blair' or 'Bush' ?

    :P < Beer, because I want one, and so should you, its the new cure to old age >

  114. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Michael 2

    Quite the party pooper aren't we!

    Be a card old boy & jolly along so we can get back to having a chuckle :-)

  115. furtherstill

    People, people...

    I think most can agree that of all the countless varieties of English in use throughout the world, the Australian one is easily the most troublesome. Half of their local terms sound like they were invented by drunken children under the care of some senile Mary Poppins.

  116. Neoc

    How about...?

    ...getting them to understand the difference in pronunciation between rout and route?

    ROUT (pronounced "rawt") is what happens when an army panics.

    ROUTE (pronounced "root") is from the French word meaning "road" or "path". Hence, it's "root sixty-six" (not "rawt sixty-six") and that piece of equipment in your Comms panel is a "rooter", not a "rawter".

    Actually, considering the default configurations I've seen in some yank-produced kit, the second pronunciation might be correct in those cases.

  117. Anonymous Coward

    Oz Router

    In Australian English (Strine) the pronunciation rooter means something completely different so Cisco products and spinning cutter drivers have to be called pronounced rowter.

    There is a probably apocryphal story about an Australian basketballer visiting the US who was greeted by a cheerleader with "Hi, I'm Randy and I want to root for you". He thought all his Christmases had come at once!

    Mine is the drizabone

  118. Phil 54

    @ Jimmy Floyd and @Steve Dulieu

    Thanks to


    This is the verb ‘to license’.


    * I license this pub.

    * You are licensed to run this pub.

    * The officer licenses the taxis here.


    This is the noun ‘a licence’.


    * I have a driving licence.

    * She wants to buy a licence for her car.

    And Steve? "Gurkin" is spelled gherkin

    Unfortunately, living in France is slowly destroying my native language: jogging = the clothes you wear while running, footing(???!): a form of running or trotting.

  119. Jason Togneri


    For us:

    USA = Politically, the middle segment of North America, between Mexico and Canada.

    For them:

    UK = United Kingdom. Comprised of Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

    GB = Great Britain. An island, comprised of Scotland, England and Wales

    Ireland = An island, comprised of the Republic of Ireland, an independent country (known locally as Eire) and Northern Ireland, a province of the UK.

    England = One part of the UK, to the south of Scotland and to the east of Wales. While it is true that all of the English are also British, t is incorrect to refer to the British as 'English', as only those from England are 'English'. Similarly, Scots and Welsh are British, but they are not English.

    Scotland = A semi-autonomous nation to the north of England, part of the UK, with its own parliament, police forces, educational infrastructure, native language (not used much anymore though), historical background and culture, etc. Scottish language, history and culture branches off from the Vikings and Celts, while English language, history and culture comes predominantly from the French and Romans.

    Wales = A pseudo-autonomous nation to the west of England, sharing many things but having a strong regional identity and its own official, if unpronounceable, language.

    The Isle of Man, Gibraltar, Jersey, Gurnsey = unmaintained Crown dependencies.

    Commonwealth = What's left of the British Empire. A free association of 53 nations from around the world that were once colonies of Great Britain, including Canada and Australia.

  120. SuperTim


    "They were called rowters right from the git-go. Trust me, I was there. Cisco calls 'em rowters. End of discussion."

    Yes....Cisco seem to thing something that routes (roots) traffic should be called a router (rooter), but as they prounce route "rowt" in the same way as rout "rowt" then of course it will always have been called a "rowter". That dont make it any righter.........

    Now, is it Baysil or Bazzil that i sprinkle over my pizza?

  121. OzBob

    Now for the really big debate,....

    Is is "asshole" or "arsehole"?

  122. OzBob

    England is not the only one with this problem,...

    I once spent an enjoyable afternoon at the NZ Embassy in Washington reading a book entitled "The New Zealand to American Dictionary". My favourite passage,....

    "When a 200 pound NZ man mentions he is a hooker, he is not actually paid to have sex with people".

  123. Omar Marquez
    Paris Hilton

    But seriously...

    There IS actually a large gulf in language usage between the limeys and the yanks, but the limeys are closing that gulf by using Amerrricanisms... I'm an Amerrrican and have lived in the UK for 9 years now, and have picked up the lingo (Viz magazine actually makes sense and is goddamn funny), but I often do a double take when I often hear American expressions uttered by local Brits, such as:

    "You bet your bottom dollar"

    "The buck stops here"

    "A ballpark figure"

    "The train station"

    "It's a no-brainer"

    etc etc...

    Amd what's up with using Americans in adverts in the UK (and not just sarky ones, but actually some "decent" adverts)? I don't mind, but it's f*cking with my mind and accent, as I sadly watch my accent slide from American West Coast to Mid-Atlantic...

  124. Bones
    Paris Hilton

    Rawte 66?

    As I brought it up, and it seems to have caused some controversy;

    @jake - if cisco calls something that route's (roots) network traffic a router (rawter) do the drive on a route (rawt) to route (root) themselves to work?

    Paris, because she knows the difference!

  125. Robert E A Harvey

    Biscuits and Cookies

    There is a technical difference. Britain has always had both sorts.

    A Biscuit - apart from the US breakfast scone, which is sort of warm stodge - A Biscuit is cut from rolled dough, while a Cookie is made from a dollop of batter. There is a tool called a biscuit cutter.

    Industrially things are similar - biscuit dough is rolled and cut (or stamped). Cookies are dropped from a depositor nozzle, sometimes with a wire cutter to interrupt the stream.

    Just to complicate the matter, my Mother-in-law came from Canada with a recipe for anzac biscuits, which are deposited and then rolled. Then the Scots have drop scones, which I understand are a weapon of the besieged, used to drop on incoming armies. At least one scottish scone is made of stone.

    In the US, as far as I can make out, all styles are called 'cookies', and you have to shop for a cookie cutter. It seems a shame not to have the distinction.

    The definitive biscuit is the ginger biscuit, not available in the US as far as I know. Just to confuse you further, the proper name for it in the bakery trade is a 'Ginger Snap'.

    Now, let us consider the products of Messers Carr. Until they were bought by United Biscuits they sold four different versions of Carr's water biscuits (High bake, low bake etc). These appear to be now called Water Crackers - perhaps since Kellog acquired the company. This is probably the correct name. Water Crackers originated in the southern states of the USA before their civil war. Carr adapted the principle and made something less sweet and less salty, more like the traditional Bath dry biscuit. But they are undoubtedly crackers - crackers are moulded and cooked simultaneously between heated irons. c.f. Jacob's cream crackers, where the cream is cream of tartar.

    Oh, by the way, the proper name for a Bath dry biscuit is a Bath Oliver. Nothing to do with our civil war, they were named for a Dr Oliver who ran a watering place in Bath. The ownership of the recipe has passed hand over hand to a company called Fort, nothing to do with Fortean Times, although they taste the same.

  126. jake Silver badge


    " ...getting them to understand the difference in pronunciation between rout and route?"

    Got that. But we are in a different century now. Language mutates.

    "ROUT (pronounced "rawt") is what happens when an army panics."

    If you are an "I" (Iranian, Iraqi, Italian). Or sometimes French.

    "ROUTE (pronounced "root") is from the French word meaning "road" or "path". Hence, it's "root sixty-six" (not "rawt sixty-six")"

    One pronunciation of the spelling, in that context, yes.

    "and that piece of equipment in your Comms panel is a "rooter", not a "rawter"."

    No. It's a router, pronounced "rowter". It's used to rout (rowt) traffic.

    "Actually, considering the default configurations I've seen in some yank-produced kit, the second pronunciation might be correct in those cases."

    Default configurations for techie-kit suck world-wide; it's something that the technical cognizant amongst us have been griping about for decades. During the meanwhile, your country ships my country ... what kind of kit, exactly?

    Most folks with a license to drive have no clue how to drive ... and licence isn't a word anymore.

    Pickling is pickling, regardless of end-product or spleling. It's all tasty :-)

  127. Bones

    @ Omar Marquez

    "The train station"?????

    It's always been the train station. Surely the americanism is the Railroad station?

  128. David Simpson

    o & a levels

    Someone should caution the rebels that these actually refer to sexual skills rather than educational milestones.

  129. Glyn 2


    There's a thought, why do Americans call the road "Route 66", "Root 66" yet when following a "route" they follow a "rowt"?

    And can we have a pronuncation guide for them?

    It's always annoyed me that they can't pronounce things correctly but my recent phonecall to the xbox number had me incensed

    The website is "xbox dot com" not "xbarks darrrttttt carrrmmmm"

    And "herbs" is pronounced "herbs" not "Erbs" with a harsh "E"

    And it's "carib-e-an" not "carib eon"

    And it's...

    And it's...

  130. Anonymous John

    @ @ Omar Marquez

    Really? Usually "railway station" in my experience.

  131. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    (1) Although we are in a different century now [to the last one] I thought routers were invented more than 9 years ago. Shows what little I know

    (2) The French don't rout, they surrender.


    Although both pronunciations are given the primary one is "root".

    None of the definitions of "rout" indicate anything similar to "route" at all. So unless your router is used to make your network traffic run away shitting itself it is a rooter and not a rowter.

  132. Bones

    @ Anonymous John

    Good point,

    Showing my youth there, it's been train station for as long as I can remember. Must be deep seeded americanism's in Nottingham!

    I blame Raaaaaaaaaaaabin Hood.

  133. John Angelico
    Big Brother

    @Softly softly catchee monkey

    First part of this expression became the middle of a marvellous series of police dramas which began with Z Cars and ended with Softly, Softly Task Force.

    Quality exceeded only by The Avengers.

  134. Greg J Preece

    @AC 14:58

    Oh calm down you wanker. You're taking seriously something that really isn't supposed to be.

  135. Michael O'Malley

    @Jason Togneri

    Very good summary of the peoples of the Islands of the North Atlantic.

    However, no one in Ireland calls the independent bit "Éire" when they are talking English. It is the Irish language word for Ireland, like "Deutschland" is the German language word for Germany. So, it is only called "Éire" when we are using the Irish language.

    If you use "Éire" in English language conversation or print, that marks you immediately as a foreigner. It sounds weird to locals, like using Deutschland instead of Germany.

  136. KarlTh


    A correction or two - Both Scottish and English culture, language and so on are derived from a mixture of Ancient British, Anglo-Saxon and Norman. There is also Gaelic in parts of Scotland.

    Scotland has three languages - English, Scots (closely related to English, the language Rabbie Burns wrote in) and Gaelic (related to Irish and considerably more unpronouncable than Welsh).

    Cornwall is considered by some of its inhabitants to be seperate from English, having maintained a Celtic language (related to Breton and slightly more distantly to Welsh) until fairly recent times (that's the early 19th century to us) which has been reinvented and revived, and has been in use by a small group of enthusiasts for the last 100.

  137. Andyman

    Table and Pasty

    Confusion arose in a meeting I had with some of out American cousins when a discussion item was 'tabled'. As I understand it in UK parlance that means to raise the issue however the yanks thinks it means to dismiss the item from the agenda - d'oh.

    Oh and please add pasty. To you or I a delicious snack from Greggs but to Americans it's a nipple tassle. And I'm not going to explain how I dicovered that.

  138. Alex King

    Different version...

    For us brits to get the right meaning from your septic contributors. Maybe you could start with pedophile vs paedophile?

    Too many icons! Chose a random one.

  139. northern monkey


    I see your Yorkshire rhyme and raise you a Mackem one.

    One Sunday mornin' Lambton went

    A-fishing in the Wear;

    An' catched a fish upon he's heuk

    He thowt leuk't vary queer.

    But whatt'n a kind ov fish it was

    Young Lambton cudden't tell-

    He waddn't fash te carry'd hyem,

    So he hoyed it doon a well


    Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs,

    An' aa'll tell ye aall an aaful story,

    Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs,

    An' Aa'll tel ye 'boot the worm.

    Noo Lambton felt inclined te gan

    An' fight i' foreign wars.

    He joined a troop ov Knights that cared

    For nowther woonds nor scars,

    An' off he went te Palestine

    Where queer things him befel,

    An varry seun forgat aboot

    The queer worm i' the well.

    But the worm got fat an' growed an' growed,

    An' growed an aaful size;

    He'd greet big teeth, a greet big gob,

    An greet big goggle eyes.

    An' when at neets he craaled aboot

    Te pick up bits o' news,

    If he felt dry upon the road,

    He milked a dozen coos.

    This feorful worm would often feed

    On caalves an' lambs an' sheep,

    An' swally little bairns alive

    When they laid doon te sleep.

    An when he'd eaten aall he cud

    An' he had had he's fill,

    He craaled away an' lapped he's tail

    Ten times roond Pensher Hill.

    The news ov this myest aaful worm

    An' his queer gannins on

    Seun crossed the seas, gat te the ears

    Ov brave an' bowld Sor John.

    So hyem he cam an' catched the beast,

    An' cut 'im in twe haalves,

    An' that seun stopped hes eatin' bairns

    An' sheep an' lambs an' caalves.

    So noo ye knaa hoo aall the foaks

    On byeth sides ov the Wear

    Lost lots o' sheep an' lots o' sleep

    An leeved i' mortal feor.

    So let's hev one te brave Sor John

    That kept the bairns frae harm,

    Saved coos an' calves by myekin' haalves

    O' the famis Lambton Worm.

  140. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

    @ Paul Ross - Define 'gunt'

    Its a word used by ventriloquists, usually preceded by the word silly

  141. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh, are we on poetry

    BATH NEET by Christine Thistlethwaite

    Ah wer skennin’ in a plummer’s winder

    As Ah traipsed along on t’street

    When me een wer caught wi’ a breet display

    O’ t’latest bathroom suite.

    T’colour wer sooart o’ pinky puce,

    T’taps wer gowd an’ t’bath wer rahnd -

    By ‘eck it wer a stunner! It cost a thahsand pahnd!

    Wesh basin wer shaped like a scallop shell

    Deep enuf ter sink a fleet in,

    The wer t’toilet, an’ summat Ah cunt mek out -

    Ah think it were ter wesh yer feet in!

    Ah thowt ‘ow this luxury aw’ could be mine

    If nobbut Ah ‘ad but t'dough,

    An’ Ah smiled as Ah thowt o’ t’contrast

    Wi’ bathneets o’ long ago.

    Frida’ neets, Mam’d mek t’fire up

    Wi’ plenty o’ wood an’ coil,

    Fill up t’big pans wi’ watter

    An’ set ‘em on ter boil.

    Then, out o’ t’wesh-house she’d fetch t’tin bath

    An’ set it on t’owd pegged rug,

    Then each on us bairns’d be lathered in turn,

    In t’kitchen ser warm an’ snug.

    Cleean ‘jamas wer wettin’ on t’oven dooar,

    As we splashed an’ laiked in t’tub,

    ‘Til Mam’d say, “Let’s be ‘avin’ yer!

    It’s tahm fer a rub-a-dub-dub!”

    Then, cocoa an’ parkin curled up bi t’fire,

    In a sleepy, shinin’ glow.

    Aye! Ah’d swap aw them fancy bathroom suites

    Fer a bathneet o’ long ago!

  142. Big Duke Six

    ...and if you're struggling with demotic anglo-saxon...

  143. Laughing Otter

    We're not all completely clueless...

    Actually, there's a sizable British population here in Seattle. So if we're puzzled over some of the lingo, I'll go to the George and Dragon in Fremont and buy someone a pint for the translations. Amuses the hell out of them.

    I, for one, would treasure a guide to British lingo.

    Mine's the pint of Wychwood Hobgoblin...

  144. Glyn 2


    You can get Hobgoblin in Seattle???

    I can't even get it in my local !

    How about waggledance, piddle in the hole or the oft lethal Old Tom?

  145. Darkside

    You fools!

    We'll all regret this foolishness when the Yanks invade us, no doubt invited in by a government we're desperate to get rid of.

    Learn Welsh, Latvian, Punjabi or proper urban slang ("the filth brung 'im 'ome an' she went f*ckin' radio!") or whatever they talk down your way and don't tell the septics what it means!

    Er, no, I mean I for one welcome our new alien overlords...

  146. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Proof that the first Americans went both ways

    Explain to them what fanny means with maybe a curious aside as to whether the meaning switched during the long voyage to America..

    Having lived here for about 11 years I must confess to still snickering whenever they say it.

    Wanker, tosspot and tosser are of course good ones, explaining that while they mean the same thing they have varying degrees of offensiveness ranging from the the worst Wanker to the least Tosser, which is so inoffensive you might use it to describe your own friends. Me old tosser.

  147. Alain Moran


    One of my pet peeves with the US is that a 'bouy' is pronounced BOY not BOUIE

    Also bastardised is not spelt with a Z

  148. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A title is not required

    Starter = Appetiser

    Entree = Appetiser

    Main course = Entree

    Afters = Dessert

    Afters = Drinks after the bar closes

    Lock-in = Drinks after the bar closes

    Afters = Sexual intercourse later in the evening

    Pub = Bar

    Boozer = Pub (note that drinker does not mean a pub anywhere I have ever been)

    Boozer = Drinker, usually to excess

    Bar = The place in the pub from where you buy a drink

    Tip = Something you may possibly give to a waiter/waitress if you receive exceptionally good service

    Waiter/waitress = Server

    Leverage = abstract noun meaning the effect produced by a lever. Pronounced leeverage, since otherwise it would be spelled and levverage. NOT A VERB

    Beer = Traditionally brewed ale

    Lager = Continental (European) beer

    Piss = British equivalent of lager, typically with an Australian or vaguely foreign sounding name, but probably brewed in a factory in Kent

    Full stop = Period

    Period = something unpleasant that happens regularly to ladies

    Banger = Old car

    Banger = Sausage

    @Hawkmoth: Tah is simply spelled ta, and just means thank you. It is typically used in Northern England and derives from the word 'Tak' which means thank you in one of the Scandinavian languages (possibly Danish). Punters are customers.

  149. Astarte

    While you're at it.

    This is nothing to do with languages but I'd like to see a simple modification to the comments pages. Add an index number prefix to the subject line of each message published. That would make it a lot easier to refer back to an item to which people have made further comments or to which a comment writer might refer.

    At present, with the current topic running to nearly 150 comments the only way I know to read comments referred to by other commenters is to do a text search. Whwreas it would be much more practical to just sroll back to the appropriate index number.

  150. Peyton

    I suppose...

    The most interesting thing to come out of this discussion, to my eyes, is the number of "the yanks do/say this..." and I haven't the foggiest what the poster is talking about (but then again, I've only lived in the States all my life).

    I was curious if the posting would finally clear up one mystery for me: why some Brits are completely OCD about the English language. I have to admit, I feel a bit bad for them. I have this vision of their parents giving them a dictionary on their first birthday and going "Memorize it! There'll be a test when you're two!" heheh. Of course, I can say, as an American suuuthn'ner, that I've met a few of our very distantly related northern cousins (aka Yankees, not to be confused with Yanks ;) who can absolutely reek of condescension when confronted with a southern accent. Always confused me as well. I actually like accents, and I find slang and vernaculars intriguing. One wonders if these condescending types have ever heard the expression "variety is the spice of life".

  151. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "The most interesting thing to come out of this discussion, to my eyes, is the number of "the yanks do/say this..." and I haven't the foggiest what the poster is talking about (but then again, I've only lived in the States all my life)."

    care to give some examples? Seriously.

    "I have this vision of their parents giving them a dictionary on their first birthday and going "Memorize it! There'll be a test when you're two!""

    Epic fail! If this was true (and it isn't) it would be memorise, not memorize. You may have read the 150+ posts here but it seems that it has all completely passed you by. 1/10 see me.

    "....completely OCD........"

    It is not the language per se it is that the Americans have hijacked it and tried to make "British English" a specific language where it is clear (and should always have been so) that English English is just English and any other dialect of English (whether US, Scottish, Australian or Scouse) is simply that - a dialect of English.

    How would you feel is we took something that the US invented, stole it, changed it, prefixed the original with "North American" and then made out like the North American version was in some ways inferior to our version and that actually our version was the original and bestest?

    "I find slang and vernaculars intriguing. One wonders if these condescending types have ever heard the expression "variety is the spice of life"."

    Which is the point of this exercise. I am aware El Reg are just doing this for comedic value but instead of discussing different words it seems bell-ends like you want to turn this into an argument about why the US version of the same fucking word is the best and most goodest version.

    What we have a problem with is not so much the use of words like faucet or elevator or stroller, or even the differences in meaning of words like pavement or fanny or arse/ass or even football it is in the mindless stupidity of whichever fuck-wit American decided after 300 years of spelling colour "colour" that actually "color" would better (even though "colour" would be pronounced col-ur whilst "color" would be pronounced col-ore) and actually the "real" version - and then try to tell us English that we are the ones making the mistake spelling _our_ fucking words the way Caxton* decreed we would spell them.

    *William Caxton the father of English printing is the reason many words are spelt the way they are - due to his mass printing it was his spellings that became de facto even if some (QUeen rather than CWeen say) were at odds with the normal way of doing so. For a historical basis Caxton died in 1492 which coincidentally is the year Columbus "discovered" America - upon which basis we can safely say that Caxton's spellings pre-date the US by a good many years.

  152. jake Silver badge


    I can't remember when we first used the term "router" with regard to data transfer. It was probably at Berkeley or Stanford (UCLA??), but might have been at Moffet Field.

    It may have been back in the early '70s, when IMPs ruled the roost in the days of ARPANet, but my lizard hind-brain says it was in the late '70s or early '80s when stand-alone PDP-11s were called routers. I'm almost certain we were calling boxen that provided the services that we now think of as routing "routers" before Flag Day (Jan 1, '83).

    Certainly by the mid-80s, when Cisco became a force, the word "router" was common.

    It was always pronounced "rowter". It still is. It's a new technology, and it has a new name. It is spelled the same as an older similar technology, which in turn has a name that is based on a loan-word. But that doesn't change the pronunciation. It is pronounced "rowter". We invented it, we named it. Deal with it.

  153. Anonymous Coward

    @Robert E A Harvey Re ANZAC biscuits

    it is ANZAC (Australia New Zealand Army Corps) biscuits made by wives and mothers for the boys overseas during WWI. They lasted the trip from Oz to where ever and did not go bad. So please use capitals because in Oz ANZACs are revered and have a very proud tradition.

    Beer for 25th April ( ANZAC day)

  154. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    @Alain Moran

    "Also bastardised is not spelt with a Z"

    Ah, but it is. Both -ise and -ize are acceptable. The original spelling would have been -ize definitely has a Z. The use of the S is much later and derived from the French language. Of course, if you prefer speaking French to English then continue to use -ise.

  155. Justin Thomas


    Some Americans are amazed that our British cousins don't can't seem to grasp that a route that a car drives along, a route that electronic packets travel over, and a route cut in a piece of wood are conceptually the same thing.

    The choice to pronounce it rowter or rooter is just style. I'll stick with rowter so that my Australian friends don't get the wrong idea.

  156. Anonymous Coward


    I read you sibling (but I think we're fighting a losing battle)! 'Similar to' / 'different from' was drummed in to me from an early age.

    The misuse of 'less than' is another thing that attracts my ire. How difficult is it? If there are fewer than 3, or they're less than 6 inches, then I can't make cucumber soup.

    ... and what's with 'try and'? Surely this should be 'try to'?

    ... or 'another thing coming'? Surely this should be 'another think coming'?

    Sorry, I'm off topic, calling you surely and getting carried away.

  157. Jonathan McColl


    The dictionary (that El Reg suggested some time ago and that started this set of comments) could include a section on the Willy and why the UK side of the Pond finds very amusing a film title 'Free Willy' and a suggested new name for the SEARS Tower: Willis Tower or The Big Willie.

    I am happy to supply a paragraph on Shakespeare's use of the term, usual fees apply.

  158. Darryl

    All you have to remember...

    Is if you're British and you go to the US (or Canada for that matter), don't ask the desk clerk at the hotel to knock you up in the morning.

  159. northern monkey

    @Justin Thomas

    Some British people are amazed that our American cousins are unable to cope with homonyms that are easily identifiable by their context and so resort to pronouncing them in different and, in the eyes of the British, horrible ways.

    Has anyone in the UK ever heard of an electronic device accidentally routing bits down the A1(M) because it got confused (this being el Reg I'm sure there's at least 3 people who have a story on this one), or a policeman putting up signs after a road accident diverting people to the nearest fibre optic cable instead of down the A194?

    And yes, that's -re, not -er.

  160. Peyton


    Ahh, answered my question brilliantly. Thanks! Never would have guesed there would be an MS angle to all of this! I'm guessing the perceived slight is due to some spell-check option getting labeled "British English" or something to that effect? I can't check b/c Open Office labels it English (UK), English (USA), English (Jamaica), etc. If it's not that, then I'm in the dark on where all these Americans have been busy correcting the British. The most predominant comment above seems to be correcting Americans on the pronunciation of an American product (incidentally, the pronunciation of "route" varies by region here). I wonder if the French have this problem with French Canadians, Belgians, etc. I distinctly did not get that impression from a Parisian I once knew. Still, I will be sure to note that extra letters = smarter. Who would've thought measuring intelligence could be so easy?!

  161. jake Silver badge

    Responding to Peyton, but not @Peyton.

    "The most predominant comment above seems to be correcting Americans on the pronunciation of an American product "

    Exactly. Language mutates. Get used to it.

  162. Anonymous Coward

    RE: How About

    Pirate Dave wrote: "kaniggets". As in "I blow my nose at you, so-called Arthur-king. You and all your silly English Kaniggets."

    It might be pronounced kaniggets but it's spelt "knig hts"... or even "knights"... can you see the original joke now?

    The one thing that irritates me on both sides of the pond is the use of the word "intelligence" to mean "information gathering". When did this horrendous mangling of the language start?

    Just to compound the atrocity, we hear things like "We have intelligence that suggests x".

    That sort of thing makes me scream. I believe the appropriate response should be "You might have information that implies x but it's fairly obvious from what you've just said that you have no intelligence whatsoever".

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