Chicks, Chickens, etc.

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by whitewolf, Aug 17, 2007.

  1. whitewolf asleep under the juniper bush Registered Senior Member

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    3,112
    The difference between American English and British English is not mere accent, it's choice of words as well. We all know that. When I say I'm going to make a call, I mean I'm going to use the phone; but a Brit would mean that he's going to pay a visit. If a Brit would mean to use the phone, he'd say he's going to ring someone.

    I picked up a British book and, in it, when guys talk about girls they say "chickens;" we say "chicks." Is "chickens" really the British way or is the author being goofy?

    What other differences are there in choice of words?

    In Europe, where English is not first language, how do you go about the choice of words: do you refer to American usage, or British?

    Aussie input? Canadian input? Are there regional differences throughout Britain, like in that My Fair Lady movie?
     
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    The Americans and British have been defined as "two people divided by a common language."

    Regional differences, especially in pronunciation, are much greater in the U.K. than in the USA. Here you can traverse an area twenty times as large as all of Britannia and not notice any difference in language. Whereas within England you can drive for two hours and encounter people whose dialects differ more than a Bostonian and a Texan.

    But in addition, England (I don't know if this is strictly England or all of Britain) has class dialects as well. We are a nation with no class (as the Brits are fond of saying) so we don't understand that. That in fact is what "My Fair Lady"is about. Liza Doolittle and Henry Higgins are both Londoners, but she is working class and he is upper class, and they speak differently.

    This is still true. In England one's accent can get one barred from a club or welcomed to an exclusive hotel, whereas in America we tend to just regard accents as charming.

    BTW, the movie you refer to was a screen version of the American musical stageplay first produced in the 1950s, which was itself based on the 1912 non-musical play "Pygmalion" by the venerable British author George Bernard Shaw. The title and the basic idea were taken from the ancient Greek myth of Pygmalion, a statue created by a sculptor who, once he had finished his work, fell in love with her. Just as Prof. Higgins fell in love with the Eliza he had "created."

    When I was in Europe, admittedly 35 years ago, people who spoke English spoke strictly British English. Even in Hungary and Bulgaria, the signs for what we call restrooms were labeled WC. ("Water closet."}

    I've never heard a Brit refer to girls as "chickens." They call them "birds" although that may be out of date. The American slang "chick" has nothing to do with any kind of poultry. It originated in the jazz scene in New York City, which was heavily influenced by Latin American musicians. It's a shortening of Spanish chica, literally "little girl," but used in slang to describe any girl who looks, talks, acts, or in any way comes across as young enough to excite a man's hormones. It's an equal-opportunity thing, Latinas also refer to hot guys as chicos.

    Don't be aghast if a Brit meets your sister and says he's going to knock her up. That just means he's going to show up at her door and knock on it.
     
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  5. leopold Valued Senior Member

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    US = british
    car hood = bonnet
    tire=carcass
    not sure about the following:
    train=tram
    lorry=truck
     
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  7. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

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    petrol - gas
    torch - flashlight
    bangers - sausage
    bobby - cop
    pissed - drunk
     
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    elevator=lift
    butt=bum
    baby carriage=pram (perambulator)
    guy=bloke
    buddy=mate
    both Northern & Southern Americans=Yanks
    tavern=pub (public house)
    get along with=get on with
    time=a bit of bird (prison)
     
  9. madanthonywayne Morning in America Staff Member

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    cigarette=fag
     
  10. Learned Hand Registered Senior Member

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    Cool -- analogy time.

    Little Richard : fag as James Dean : Luckies


    (No hate here folks; just having fun with words!).
     
  11. leopold Valued Senior Member

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    fag was also a slang term for cigarette in america too for awhile.
     
  12. leopold Valued Senior Member

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    in the US if you give someone a lift you give them a ride.
    bum in the US has a number of meanings.
    homeless person
    to accept a handout as in 'bum a cigarette'
    in the US your mate is usually your spouse
    so . . .
    bum=homeless, accept alms
    lift=ride
    mate=spouse
     
  13. Avatar smoking revolver Valued Senior Member

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    19,083
    I was taught English at school and prefer to use it, because I think it's a purer and more elegant form of that language.
    But because I'm watching also American films and converse with Americans on the internet I beget a few phrases from their language and sometimes even don't know which form is American English and which is UK English.
     
  14. leopold Valued Senior Member

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    17,455
    wrench=spanner.
     
  15. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    Am. crack whore = Br. crack winch.

    I'm not sure that's actually true. I got it off Reno 911.
     
  16. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    I almost forgot. American English uses a singular verb for nouns for single groups of people: A soccer team is composed of eleven players. I'm not sure if any other variety of English does the same, but UK English treats such nouns as plural: A football team are composed of eleven players.

    It sounds very weird to me to say "a(n)" in a phrase such as "A (team/party/etc.) are...". Can someone tell me if this much is right?
     
  17. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

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    11,888
    Nah, a football team IS composed of eleven players, but today the team ARE tired.
    Different usage.
    One is singular (team is a unit), t'other is plural because it refers to the men in the team.
     
  18. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    I knew that sounded too weird to be true. Thanks.
     
  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    The British are making more progress than we are in compressing unnecessary syllables out of their language. One of the ways they do that is to eliminate articles more than we do. We say "my son is in school," but "my wife is in the hospital." They just say she is "in hospital." I hear them say things like, "I'm not authorized to approve this, so I'm going to send it up to department," instead of "the department." Perhaps that's how they get around the awkwardness of using a singular article with a noun that's construed as plural.
     
  20. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    But do they do that with "an"? That's where I fluked.
     

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