Americans & English: Divided by a Common Language
American Independence was declared after the British Parliament insisted on its right to tax American colonists and the Americans claimed their rights as English citizens to no taxation without representation. Both claims had legal standing, but poor and untimely communication sparked a revolution (or the world’s greatest tax dodge depending upon which side of the Atlantic Ocean you live).
Fortunately, we have made a great deal of progress in Anglo-American communication since 1776. Or have we? As Americans prepare to celebrate the anniversary of throwing off the yoke of oppression, here is a quick rundown of the ways in which Yanks and Brits continue to miscommunicate:
Football: In the UK, it’s a game played primarily with feet, and revolves around kicking a ball, hence the name football. In the US, it seems to involve carrying the ball when not stopping for a rest every five minutes. The debate over this term has constituted 68 percent of all communication between the parties.
Restroom/Water Closet: Normally called the bathroom or toilet in the UK as the English don’t tend to rest in there (unless really hungover). When called a water closet in the UK, Americans tend to think it’s where a water heater is kept.
Cell/Mobile: In the US, this is a phone. In the UK, a cell is normally somewhere you end up if you get in trouble with the police (for instance, if you fall asleep in a public restroom). Known as a mobile phone in the UK.
Chips/Fries: Chips are called crisps in the UK, while what the UK calls chips are known as fries in the US. Hence chips and gravy sounds really odd to the American ear.
Biscuits/Cookies: Cookies are considered a type of biscuit in the UK while what Americans call biscuits the UK call bread rolls. Something that’s caused confusion in the UK for years as we can’t work out why you would have a custard cream or a jammy dodger with gravy.
Pissed: In the UK, pissed means to be drunk, while in the US it means to be angry. This causes regular confusion, as Americans must be wondering why a large part of the UK population is very annoyed on a Friday night.
Boot/Trunk: Can refer to an item of footwear, but also refers to the rear part of a car in the UK. Not sure how Americans feel when asked if they want their luggage put in an item of footwear while transporting it in a car. In the US, this is called a trunk, which is considered luggage in the UK… something you would put in the trunk… or boot… I’m confused.