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Words Americans do not use  [message #75171] Fri, 16 November 2018 23:16 Go to next message
American_Alex   United States

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I'm reading through the story "The Bully and the Bullied", which is set somewhere in a northern rural location in the US. I'm up to chapter 3, and already the word "bloody" has been used twice. Americans DO NOT use this word, unless they are trying to sound stereotypically British. Never in the US, and rarely even in Canada. Using British vernacular in an "American" story is improper, and should be avoided.

Certain other "Britishisms" should also be avoided when trying to sound like an American. Words like "pram", "roundabout", "petrol" and "boffin", exclamations such as "brilliant", "oi" and "cor" are also never used in American dialogue. Certain 'Northern' or Celtic terms like "bairn", or "ceilidh" will confuse most Americans. Certain grammatical forms like "the caller has hang up" or "in hospital" are also distinctly British, and not American. Certain loan words from French, like "aubergine", "abbatoir", "fete" or "palais" likewise are never used in Amercan vernacular.

Going further, there are certain terms which would confuse nearly any American. "Lollipop lady", "fruit machine", "rock trousers", and "Hoxton bonnet" come to mind, mostly because I've just recently learned these expressions. British standard spellings also sometime differ; sometimes slightly, as in center/centre, to the more extreme like in jail/gaol. A quick way to make these sort of issues minimal would be to set your spell-checker to American standard English, if only to check your accuracy.



"Able was I ere I saw Elba"
Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75172 is a reply to message #75171] Fri, 16 November 2018 23:31 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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What I think the author would prefer is an email chat about it, since the criticism is directed at a particualr tale.

Your more general point is appreciated. I checked and it is not covered completely in our segment on slang as that segment stands at present. I will incorporate your comments in that segment. (now done ~timmy)

[Updated on: Sat, 17 November 2018 09:10]




Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75173 is a reply to message #75172] Fri, 16 November 2018 23:41 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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By the way, I have not yet come across Hoxton Bonnet, nor Rock Trousers, though we have both a jail and a gaol.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75175 is a reply to message #75173] Sat, 17 November 2018 00:11 Go to previous messageGo to next message
American_Alex   United States

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"timmy wrote on Fri, 16 November 2018 18:41"
By the way, I have not yet come across Hoxton Bonnet, nor Rock Trousers, though we have both a jail and a gaol.


--I believe those are both Nortern slang, probably Mancunian, or maybe more generically Geordie....



"Able was I ere I saw Elba"
Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75176 is a reply to message #75171] Sat, 17 November 2018 00:19 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Mark   United States

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"American_Alex wrote on Fri, 16 November 2018 16:16"
Certain other "Britishisms" should also be avoided when trying to sound like an American. Words like "pram", "roundabout", "petrol" and "boffin"

--

Well, I don't know about anyone else, but as an American (third generation in the shortest line of my genealogy) who's never been outside the U.S. I've used the word "roundabout" on multiple occasions with other Americans, who have had absolutely no trouble understanding the meaning of the word (both in the context of talking about going somewhere "in a roundabout way" - meaning taking an indirect route - or in reference to what is also called a "trafic circle," a circular "island" in the middle of an intersection between two roads).
Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75177 is a reply to message #75171] Sat, 17 November 2018 07:50 Go to previous messageGo to next message
William King is currently offline  William King   France

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I understand the preference for an American to read a story set in America in American English, but whilst a preference it shouldn't prevent an author who is not American and or writes using British English from writing scenes set in America. If that were the case one would not be able to write scenes in any country other than the ones you have actually lived in for some years. It would be sensible to avoid too many colloquialisms which as pointed out by Tim even a lot of British people have never heard of. If the setting is in a particular, region, country, then I think colloquialisms from that region are fine. I would simply make the point that I have to, on occasion, look up words used because I don't know what they refer to. I don't find this very difficult (depending on your operating system) I highlight the word, click DICTIONARY and usually have the definition, occasionally I might have to look further using the internet. What this does for me is expand my vocabulary.

In summary, it's nice if the description, dialogue, is more real, otherwise it is a question of accepting it how it's written, rather like poor proof reading, poor grammar, and spelling mistakes. This is after all amateur writing, nobody is a paid professional author, compromise is th key word, but it's no bad thing to point out the discrepancies to an author ( in a nice way ).
Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75178 is a reply to message #75177] Sat, 17 November 2018 09:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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I think it comes down to unexpected things spoiling the reading flow. I think it unlikely that a US kid will use 'bloody' in conversation with another US kid, so that spoils the flow because the speaker steps out of character.  I think it unwise to use words not in common parlance even if they exist. 'Hoxton Bonnets' are, certainly at present, not in common parlance. They make me think of a painted foreskin, actually, probably not the real usage!

Writing in the UK a car has a boot, a bonnet, wings, bumpers, though modern designs tend to remove the last one. We use petroleum spirit, or petrol, you use gasolene, or gas. But we also cook with gas, which is not gasolene. I expect US readers to be able to translate those in the same manner that I can translate American English, but I acknowledge that I have no skill at writing in American English despite my being able to translate what I read.

"Can I bum a fag off you?" works innocently in the UK, and fails on so many levels in the USA, though I suspect a US person can work it out after a while.

"Knock me up in the morning, please" is an old favourite

I had an aunt who lived in New York, who explained the difference between 'purse' in the US and in the UK, and also the term 'pocket book'. I know the difference between chips here and there. Biscuits and cookies amuse me I can cope with those, though, because I am able to think.

I have never quite understood why US kids call their parents 'sir' or 'ma'am', and put it down to weird religious respect for elders and patriarchal domination, with the feminine form inherited form the masculine. It grates on me but I accept it because it fits the text

We do have awful US TV shows here like Man vs Food, so I understand that the USA has a very different view on many things from here. But I am capable of knowing the US Eggplant is a Aubergine. If I have it right, Rutabaga is Kohlrabi, but I don't eat either, so who cares?

I have worked out that a stick shift, so unusual in the USA, is a manual gearbox, and quite normal in the rest of the world, and that most folk outside the USA can drive one easily.

The upshot is that I can cope happily with tales written in their local vernacular. I find it odd, though readable, when incorrect vernacular is used, though I recognise that others find it a huge obstacle. Better, then, not to create the obstacle.

[Updated on: Sat, 17 November 2018 09:38]




Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75179 is a reply to message #75178] Sat, 17 November 2018 11:40 Go to previous messageGo to next message
NW is currently offline  NW   United States

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Timmy is right that most of us in the UK have little difficulty in understanding most of the things specific to "American" English (though I suspect that there's far more regionalism in that than we here usually notice: the different words for pop/soda/etc often crop up). Wikipedia and other sources are very helpful if needed (and have helped expand my vocabulary).

However, there really isn't a thing that is "British" English. The language spoken in Scotland is considerably more different from Standard (Southern) English than Standard American English is, as regards vocabulary, grammar, and syntax. I'm not think of the rather artificial literary language of Lallans here, but of everyday Scottish.

As a reader, there are several things that may interfere with my ability to "suspend disbelief". That may be a result of half a lifetime spent working in Theatre, where making audiences suspend disbelief is vital: I'm probably particularly aware of any glitches. I mentioned in another thread that numbers that don't add up are one bugbear of mine, and I confess that language that clashes with a character's background or nationality is another.

Traditionally, sorting out these kinds of infelicities would be an editor's task. My 87-year-old mother (who finally retired as an editor with Oxford University Press two years ago) has a great deal to say about this! An increasing number of commercially-published books, and of course most of the work on sites like IOMFATS, is effectively unedited, and understandably so. Nevertheless, if an author is going to write extended scenes or characters with a background in a location with which they're not familiar, I do think that getting someone who has relevant experience to look over the text before publication would be very helpful to some of us readers.



"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. ... Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night devoid of stars." Martin Luther King
Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75180 is a reply to message #75179] Sat, 17 November 2018 15:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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As readers of D K Daniels will see, too, the Irish have an interesting use of English, sometimes more precisely than the use by the English. English is not DKD's first tongue, so his mode of expression is sometimes eccentric to our ears, too.

What I hope for most in any piece of writing is a lack of hurdles which I must jump. If I meet a new term I will investigate it, but only if I care, if it is essential to the plot.

An area I find creates a huge hurdle is the faux-English used by the US author who tries to make one of his characters to be English. The scope for making a total twat of one's self by attempting this is enormous. We no longer use the language of P G Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster, but I suspect the USA does not use the language of Twain's Messrs Sawyer and Finn. Writing in either style today creates a caricature, not a story.

I can choose to switch the hurdles I encounter off. I do this because I am a publisher of good amateur written work. I forgive errors of this sort if the rest of the tale paints a picture in my mind that I wish to see. I publish good stories, some of which are on a par with great literature, but most of which are not. I include almost all of my own in the latter category.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75181 is a reply to message #75180] Sat, 17 November 2018 16:15 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Mark   United States

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In a general sense, though, I can understand where American Alex is coming from.  It canbe a bit distracting when reading a story and a character uses a word or phrase they wouldn't use in normal circumstanses.  After all, as an American who lives in America and who interacts largely with other Americans (at least in face-to-face conversations), I'm far more likely to greet someone with something like "Wazzup?" than I would with "G'day, mate!" That's just the way things operate, and it would take a bit more of Suspention of Disbelief than normal for me to use something that isn't a common greeting in American English; this isn't to say that I would never say "G'day Mate" (obviously) or that other Americans wouldn't immediately understand what I was saying, just that it's very unlikely as a normal form of conversation in my day-to-day life.

Of course thre are also words used throughout the English-speaking world that have different meanings depending on where you're use them.  Yes, "roundabout," as I mentioned earlier, is something used in American English (as either talking about getting somewhere, either literally or figuratively, in an indirect way, or as something encountered in the intersection of two roads, but the English also use it to refer to an amusement park ride that us Americans call a merry-go-round.  Similarly, there's the word "boot" - an American would use it to be describing a certain type of footwear, while in England it would be in reference to the storage compartment in the back of a car - what Americans call a "trunk" (and among English-speakers in India, the storage compartment in the back of a car is called a "dickie").

And then there's words and phrases that are no longer used.  Using Timmy's Mark Twain analogy, once upon a time using what's now referred to as "the N-word" by someone of Caucasian descent in reference to those of African descent was totally acceptable, but now is considered to be extremely racially offensive, and there are some people who want to ban some of Mr. Twain's books because of that.

But then there are those who try to write for a different English group (i.e. an American trying to write someone speaking in Scottish English) who don't do so well, and that can also be of some annoyance to those in that group who'd say, "We never talk that way!"  For example, I've never addressed my parents as "Sir" and "Ma'am," and have never heard any of my American friends or other acquaintances do that with their parents, either.
Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75182 is a reply to message #75180] Sat, 17 November 2018 16:16 Go to previous messageGo to next message
American_Alex   United States

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There used to be an actor who did a 'bit' on a late night comedy show here in the US, where he was the supposed "London correspondent", always standing in front of a graphic of the House of Parlaiment, wearing a trench coat. His reports were long strings of English banter, almost totally undecipherable to the American audience. It was hilarious. I believe the actor was American, but his portrayal was very convincing.

Trying to imitate regional or racial dialects is also fraught with peril. I've read some stories where especially African-American, Hispanic or Native-Americans portrayals that sounded unintentionally racist. I realize that, if you've only heard them in movies, you probaly have a poor/exaggerated idea of these respective ethnic dialects.







"Able was I ere I saw Elba"
Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75183 is a reply to message #75181] Sat, 17 November 2018 16:26 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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"Mark wrote on Sat, 17 November 2018 16:15"
 I've never addressed my parents as "Sir" and "Ma'am," and have never heard any of my American friends or other acquaintances do that with their parents, either.

--
I picked that up from US TV shows imported here and many authors writing US kids in the USA.  It's interesting what we pick up that is not used by our friends in the other culture. Perhaps that example is a regonal thing?  I have no idea.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75184 is a reply to message #75182] Sat, 17 November 2018 16:28 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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"American_Alex wrote on Sat, 17 November 2018 16:16"
Trying to imitate regional or racial dialects is also fraught with peril. I've read some stories where especially African-American, Hispanic or Native-Americans portrayals that sounded unintentionally racist. I realize that, if you've only heard them in movies, you probaly have a poor/exaggerated idea of these respective ethnic dialects.

--
More than that it is almost impossible to keep your reader with you. The segment on dialogue skills goes a good way down the route of covering that.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75186 is a reply to message #75171] Sat, 17 November 2018 18:43 Go to previous messageGo to next message
chrisr is currently offline  chrisr   

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Oddly enough, the term "bloody" has a very American place, very related to The British, if only you're old enough to remember! Back in 1959 there was a song, "The Battle of New Orleans", performed by Johnny Horton, written by Jimmy Driftwood, that became very popular, especially among the young'uns. (I believe it ended up #1 on the charts for the year.) The common chatter was that "bloody" was mildly profane but when it was in a song about an American victory how could the 'rents complain?!

Opening verse was:

  In 1814 we took a little trip
  along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip'.
  We took a little bacon and we took a little beans
  and we caught the BLOODY British in the town of New Orleans.

https://duckduckgo.com/?t=disconnect&x=%2Fhtml&q=bat tle+of+new+orleans+song&ia=videos&iax=videos&iai =VL7XS_8qgXM
Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75187 is a reply to message #75181] Sat, 17 November 2018 20:43 Go to previous messageGo to next message
joecasey is currently offline  joecasey   United States

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My mother, who was born and raised in southwestern Ohio, near Dayton, uses the word "boot" to refer to the trunk of a car, as does her mother, from the same region.  I don't know if this is a learned usage or not for my mother; none of her children use any other term but "trunk," and she herself does not use the term "bonnet" to refer to the other end of the car.  

Of course, I was raised in the South, where "y'all" is a perfectly acceptable pronoun ...
Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75188 is a reply to message #75187] Sat, 17 November 2018 21:52 Go to previous messageGo to next message
William King is currently offline  William King   France

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And then of course you have to understand what the British actually mean...

http://forum.iomfats.org/?t=getfile&id=4918&private=0
Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75189 is a reply to message #75188] Sun, 18 November 2018 02:15 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Dominick St James is currently offline  Dominick St James   United Kingdom

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http://forum.iomfats.org/?t=getfile&id=4925&private=0

Sorry, William but that chart is wrong. The inferred meanings are illogical. My alterations above, would be any reasonable 
person's interpretation of what is actually meant. In any case, those same statements are uttered by Americans and Brits, alike. 

American Alex: "Using British vernacular in an "American" story is improper, and should be avoided."
I think a vernacular, particularly rendering a dialect, is perhaps out of place, but not 'improper'. It depends on what your 'ear' can get attuned to. I have no difficulty of understanding any nuance of 'American' English, but in my writing I avoid any use of it whatsoever. It's perhaps best not make any serious attempt at aping one another.
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Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75190 is a reply to message #75183] Sun, 18 November 2018 04:11 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Mark   United States

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"timmy wrote on Sat, 17 November 2018 09:26"

"Mark wrote on Sat, 17 November 2018 16:15"
 I've never addressed my parents as "Sir" and "Ma'am," and have never heard any of my American friends or other acquaintances do that with their parents, either.

--
I picked that up from US TV shows imported here and many authors writing US kids in the USA.  It's interesting what we pick up that is not used by our friends in the other culture. Perhaps that example is a regonal thing?  I have no idea.

--

Interesting.  While I won't say that I've never noticed "Sir" and "Ma'am" used in TV shows or books in reference to a young character's addressing their parents, it's still not something that I've seen very often, and is only really found in old material (stuff written many years ago, i.e. the earlier comments about authors like Mark Twain) or are concerning characters who are something like students at a military school or are children of rich parents and who are being raised to be "proper."  I read a lot of books aimed towards tween/early teen readers and written by  Americans and involving American youth (Brandon Mull and D.J. MacHale are a couple of favorite authors of mine) in which parents are addressed as "Mom" and "Dad," never as "Ma'am" and "Sir."  It's the same with TV shows set in the "present" time period (by present meaning fictional events taking place in the same general time period in which the show is being aired) in which it's always "Mom" and "Dad."

May I ask for some specific titles for TV shows or books?  (I'm not trying to be rude, but I'm now genuinely interested in what's being sent over "across the pond" that's giving the idea that present-day American children addressing their parents as "Sir" and "Ma'am" is somehow a regular thing over here.)
Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75192 is a reply to message #75190] Sun, 18 November 2018 07:27 Go to previous messageGo to next message
William King is currently offline  William King   France

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"Mark wrote on Sun, 18 November 2018 05:11"

"timmy wrote on Sat, 17 November 2018 09:26"

"Mark wrote on Sat, 17 November 2018 16:15"
 I've never addressed my parents as "Sir" and "Ma'am," and have never heard any of my American friends or other acquaintances do that with their parents, either.

--
I picked that up from US TV shows imported here and many authors writing US kids in the USA.  It's interesting what we pick up that is not used by our friends in the other culture. Perhaps that example is a regonal thing?  I have no idea.

--

Interesting.  While I won't say that I've never noticed "Sir" and "Ma'am" used in TV shows or books in reference to a young character's addressing their parents, it's still not something that I've seen very often, and is only really found in old material (stuff written many years ago, i.e. the earlier comments about authors like Mark Twain) or are concerning characters who are something like students at a military school or are children of rich parents and who are being raised to be "proper."  I read a lot of books aimed towards tween/early teen readers and written by  Americans and involving American youth (Brandon Mull and D.J. MacHale are a couple of favorite authors of mine) in which parents are addressed as "Mom" and "Dad," never as "Ma'am" and "Sir."  It's the same with TV shows set in the "present" time period (by present meaning fictional events taking place in the same general time period in which the show is being aired) in which it's always "Mom" and "Dad."

May I ask for some specific titles for TV shows or books?  (I'm not trying to be rude, but I'm now genuinely interested in what's being sent over "across the pond" that's giving the idea that present-day American children addressing their parents as "Sir" and "Ma'am" is somehow a regular thing over here.)

--
When Shadows Pass by Sean English - the American boy (one of the main characters) who moves to England explains that he always addressed his father as Sir.

A story on this site which is a relatively recent example that comes to mind, there are lots of others. I have the same impression as Tim, that American kids refer to adults as Sir and Ma'am often including their parents, but equally often parents are referred to as mom and dad. I rather think it depends whether the parents are strict, religious, or liberal.


Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75193 is a reply to message #75192] Sun, 18 November 2018 07:47 Go to previous messageGo to next message
William King is currently offline  William King   France

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@Dominick St James   I think the chart I posted was a little tongue in cheek and intended to highlight how the British are often hypercritical and do not always say what they mean.

As a nation they are polite and well mannered preferring to avoid confrontation, something which can result in saying the opposite of what they really think.

Even in regions of the country where a person might profess to be straight speaking, they will say something like: "I'm from Yorkshire, so I'm going to say it like it is," so even those people will warn you they might offend with their opinion, before they give it... very polite, lol!
Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75194 is a reply to message #75189] Sun, 18 November 2018 08:20 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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Ah, well, Dominick, you have a point. However, you are somewhat adrift.

"With the greatest respect" means very simply that I am going to pretend that I respect you and your opinion, but it is so wrong that it is worthy of being set aside without further consideration. In short it means that your idea is fuckwitted. It is akin to the "I'm sorry, but..." construct.

Perhaps watching "Yes Minister" and "Yes Prime Minister" (again?) which will be available somewhere will give you an enhanced insight into the majority of the rest.

"Quite good" is an interesting one. In parts of the USA it means "Excellent". In the UK it means that it's kind of ok, but not really wonderful to any degree. In short, not good enough." This leads to major transatlantic misunderstandings

"I'm sure it's my fault" is very much like the old break up line of "It's not you, it's me" and means that you have fucked up bigtime.

"You must come for dinner" is a piece of faux politesse, and is only a real invitation if followed up with one.

The greater part of the original list is correct, though the degree may vary.

Here's the thing. Had I started "With the greatest respect, Dominick, I only have a few minor comments on your revisions" then I would have been extremely, politely, and overbearingly rude, but you would have been unable to take pubic offence though you might have been seething underneath. Even the existing opening line is not entirely polite, but does not have the scathing quality of "With the greatest respect..." and I put it there as an example, not to be rude to you. I hope you have taken no offence from it, for it was not meant to offend.

[Updated on: Sun, 18 November 2018 08:39]




Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75195 is a reply to message #75190] Sun, 18 November 2018 08:26 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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"Mark wrote on Sun, 18 November 2018 04:11"
May I ask for some specific titles for TV shows or books?  (I'm not trying to be rude, but I'm now genuinely interested in what's being sent over "across the pond" that's giving the idea that present-day American children addressing their parents as "Sir" and "Ma'am" is somehow a regular thing over here.)

--

This is going to be hard because most of this passes through as being unmemorable, albeit peculiar. I think examples need to come from the mainstream rather than from web published material, and I'm struggling to think of TV shows containing kids that come here and are memorable. Mostly it comes from movies, I think. It usually feels as if said in a discipline scenario for the boy, and it is always a boy, who is deemed out of order by his parent. It must exist because it has made a firm impression on me as being both present and weird. I will consider and note the occurences, and the lack of them.

[Updated on: Sun, 18 November 2018 09:01]




Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
The usage of 'sir' etc  [message #75196 is a reply to message #75195] Sun, 18 November 2018 09:21 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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Google has produced some results:

All of this shows at least that I am not mistaken!

Use of Sir as a courtesy title for randoms while working in a customer service environment is a habitual politeness for me, as was using it for my male teachers. It's also amazing how much disrespect one can get into the simple word!



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: The usage of 'sir' etc  [message #75197 is a reply to message #75196] Sun, 18 November 2018 09:36 Go to previous messageGo to next message
NW is currently offline  NW   United Kingdom

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I occasionally called my father "Sir".

Certainly when I was at a weekly-boarding prep school (ages 7-10), during the holidays if he called me when I was concentrating on something else, I might well have just answered "Yes, Sir" on autopilot.

In early teenaged years, before my parents separated, I would use "Yes, Sir" as a response to instructions that I disagreed with, when I felt that I hadn't been given a fair opportunity to argue my case.



"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. ... Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night devoid of stars." Martin Luther King
Re: The usage of 'sir' etc  [message #75198 is a reply to message #75196] Sun, 18 November 2018 14:06 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Mark   United States

Likes it here
Location: Earth
Registered: April 2013
Messages: 184



"timmy wrote on Sun, 18 November 2018 02:21"
Google has produced some results:

All of this shows at least that I am not mistaken!

Use of Sir as a courtesy title for randoms while working in a customer service environment is a habitual politeness for me, as was using it for my male teachers. It's also amazing how much disrespect one can get into the simple word!

--

Though if you'll note, most of the posters (especially in the Reddit links) are usually either from the South (which certainly explains much - they're an odd bunch anyway at times Very Happy) or their parents are in the military (or both, in at least one case!).  And at other times, it's only occasional, when a more formal respose is appropriate (such as a direction given in public), and is only occasional (those who acknowledge doing that also ackowledged regularly using "Mom" and "Dad" while at home or in other, private siutations).  You'll also notice that a lot of posters have a similar view to my own, some sort of "What?  My friends and I never did that!  That's just crazy talk!"  (This isn't to say that there aren't other specific circumstances on a case-by-case basis.  With a population of over 300 million people, spread across almost 4 million square miles - almost 10 million square km - it's kind of hard to say that any one specific action is reflective of Americans as a whole.)

A lot of us (as some posters noted) do address other adults outside of the family as "Sir/Ma'am" or "Mr./Mrs. So-and-so" - teachers, police officers, parents of friends, etc., though in the case of friends' parents or parents' friends who we've known for a very long time it might be on a first-name basis, usually either by direct request of the adult or because the relationship is close enough that everyone is almost more like family than friends.
Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75205 is a reply to message #75171] Tue, 20 November 2018 16:21 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Bisexual_Guy is currently offline  Bisexual_Guy   United States

Toe is in the water
Location: USA Midwest
Registered: September 2015
Messages: 67



"American_Alex wrote on Fri, 16 November 2018 23:16"
I'm reading through the story "The Bully and the Bullied", which is set somewhere in a northern rural location in the US. I'm up to chapter 3, and already the word "bloody" has been used twice. Americans DO NOT use this word, unless they are trying to sound stereotypically British. Never in the US, and rarely even in Canada. Using British vernacular in an "American" story is improper, and should be avoided.

Certain other "Britishisms" should also be avoided when trying to sound like an American. Words like "pram", "roundabout", "petrol" and "boffin", exclamations such as "brilliant", "oi" and "cor" are also never used in American dialogue. Certain 'Northern' or Celtic terms like "bairn", or "ceilidh" will confuse most Americans. Certain grammatical forms like "the caller has hang up" or "in hospital" are also distinctly British, and not American. Certain loan words from French, like "aubergine", "abbatoir", "fete" or "palais" likewise are never used in Amercan vernacular.

Going further, there are certain terms which would confuse nearly any American. "Lollipop lady", "fruit machine", "rock trousers", and "Hoxton bonnet" come to mind, mostly because I've just recently learned these expressions. British standard spellings also sometime differ; sometimes slightly, as in center/centre, to the more extreme like in jail/gaol. A quick way to make these sort of issues minimal would be to set your spell-checker to American standard English, if only to check your accuracy.

--Timmy, I respectfully disagree, in part.  In my part of the United States, "roundabout" is variously in common use, most often meaning a traffic circle or traffic oval, and secondly meaning a series of indirect references to what is being discussed until finally the topic is finally reached and discussed, and thirdly indirect research on a topic.
"Brilliant" is less common, but used by some.
Quite a few in my circle of mostly well-educated friends use "fete" or "feted."  
"Abbatoir" seems to be coming into some usage.  It used to be very rare to hear that term; now it is sometimes used.
Perhaps as many as one in ten persons in the region where I live might say "in hospital" instead of "in the hospital."
And some, including my son, use "petrol" or "fuel" instead of "gasoline."

Most of the other terms I hear rarely, if at all. 
Re: Words Americans do not use  [message #75206 is a reply to message #75205] Tue, 20 November 2018 16:52 Go to previous message
timmy   United Kingdom

Has no life at all
Location: UK, in Devon
Registered: February 2003
Messages: 13072



Probably you are disagreeing with Amercian Alex, though Smile



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
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