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January 23, 2006


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As I posted on the hen thread... never beleive US drivers Licence info. Mine says Im 6 foot four and 98lbs! Oh yea and my blue/green eyes are listed as hazel!


My husband and I laugh about this all the time. He is teaching himself Finnish, and we like to think about English phrases that would baffle someone whose native tongue is, say, Finnish. This is how we amuse ourselves on car rides. This is also a point of great pleasure for me because we have English relatives. So when I say I need to get a pair of pants, they are thinking knickers, not trousers. And when I say where's my purse, they are thinking wallet, not handbag. And a jumper in England is a sweater, whereas in the US it's a pullover-sleeveless-dress (at least in my part of the US). This fascinated me so much that when in England in July I made a list of words we use differently from the English...and I posted it on my blog a while back, for amusement.

And what is utterly terrifying is: we speak the SAME language! So magnify all that by a thousand when you're translating from, say, French or Finnish or Arabic.

Hyvaa yota from the mountains of Virginia!


I get so frustrated here in SA, I was brought up in England for 10 years and then to Africa. Here pants are trousers. To me pants are underwear. So if someone here says 'short pants' they mean shorts, and if they day 'long pants' they mean trousers. Now there are also 'three quarter pants'. And I always think underwear! Afrikaans people are famous for saying 'a jeans pant', this means jeans. I don't know what happens to the 's' at the end of the pant bit! Hillarious! At least we do understand each other - somewhat!


I live in the US and had no idea people think of hazel eyes as blue/green. I've always said I had hazel eyes and mine are light brown. How weird! It is so fascinating to me how words have such different meaning in different parts of the world.

BTW, I've never posted before but I've read most of your entries. I love hearing about your children and life in Hong Kong. :)


and let'ts not forget that in the us knickers are pants (slacks, trousers, outerwear, whatever) that go down to just below the knee. think old golfers and bad 80's fashion.

observation: in the uk knickers are pants, and in the us knickers are pants. but the definition of both knickers and pants changes with longitude from inner to outer so that they continue to match.

as far as the hazel thing goes, i was always told i have hazel eyes because they are green with gold (light brown) flecks. i have a friend who says she has hazel eyes as well, but hers are light brown. but, and here's the kicker, she THINKS she has green eyes. perhaps people with light brown (golden) eyes tend to think of their eyes as green, or at least greenish, and this started the confusion.


Ha! I am the culprit here!
You forgot that here in Texas a Coke could be any soda, such as a Dr. Pepper or a Pepsi....they are all cokes.
Steve asked me not to call diapers nappies but nappies has kind of grown on me.

Carrie Jo

I was always under the impression that hazel eyes were either light brown or greenish-brown.


Ah yes - in the US, a rubber is a condom. In the UK, a rubber removes pencil, which in the US we call an eraser. Or the old hotel joke of "I'll knock you up in the morning" which means I'll come to your door, knock on it and wake you up. Not make you pregnant, which is what a girl who is knocked up in the US is. Or how about regionalisms here in the US - you mentioned that Sprite, Coca-Cola and Pepsi are all Cokes - but it can also be soda, pop, soda pop, or tonic if you live in the Boston area. How about a drink made with ice cream and milk and some flavor? A milkshake, or a frappe? Big large sandwiches on a bun - are they submarines, grinders, hoagies or are they on a torpedo roll? A garden in the UK is your yard in the US.


and i sorta feel sorry for any brit here in the south who approches some redneck asking for a fag.


My English relatives call bangs (as in, on your hair) "fringe," a golf cart is a "buggy," french fries are of course "chips," potato chips are of course, "crisps" [a far superior word, in my mind, than potato chips], the line is the queue [again, much better word], the stroller is the "pram," a vacation is elevated to a "holiday," [also far superior], the mailbox is the "letterbox."

Particularly addictive are the terms chips, crisps, nappy, queue, and holiday, which have become part of my own vocabulary. A funny incident occurred not long ago when I was shopping with my english sister in law here in virginia. We were trying to figure out where to buy our merchandise and maxine said to the woman in front of us, "is this the queue?" And the woman looked at her as though she had three heads and said, "what?!" Maxine politely asked again, "is this the queue?" I was amused by this exchange and wondered how long I could hold out. Finally I said, "is this the LIIIIINE?" in my most southern drawl, to which the woman immediately unfurrowed her brow and said, oh yes.

Queue is a much nicer word.

And these misunderstandings also occur w/in the US, as Peggy posted. Just the other day I was driving through Ohio and I stopped at a convenience store. The woman asked if I wanted a "sack" and it took me a minute to figure out what she was saying. Oh yes, i do want a bag!

Here in the south a bag is also called a poke, and snack crackers are called nabs (so: do you want a poke for your nabs? if so....please queue up.)


Well, my problem is that half of those differences I didn't even realise were different. What are shorts called by people in the States / US? A funny thing happened a few years ago when we went overseas and in San Fran DH asked a tourist info centre where we could hire a push bike. She didn't have a clue what he was talking about (a push bike here refers to a bicycle as opposed to a motor bike). The other thing that is really really confusing is dress sizes. We use the English system which seems to have no correlation to the US system.

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