British English for American Readers: A Dictionary of the Language, Customs, and Places of British Life and Literature

Overview

How does a vicar differ from a rector? Is a marquis a lord? Where are the Home Counties? Is someone who is dead chuffed happy or angry? Americans reading British literature, come upon such unfamiliar terms and generally have to rely on contextual clues. For the legions of readers of Dickens and Trollope, of Agatha Christie, John LeCarre, and P.D. James, of Muriel Spark and Iris Murdoch, of Noel Coward and Tom Stoppard—to name a few—as well as viewers of British film and television imports, this helpful and ...

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Overview

How does a vicar differ from a rector? Is a marquis a lord? Where are the Home Counties? Is someone who is dead chuffed happy or angry? Americans reading British literature, come upon such unfamiliar terms and generally have to rely on contextual clues. For the legions of readers of Dickens and Trollope, of Agatha Christie, John LeCarre, and P.D. James, of Muriel Spark and Iris Murdoch, of Noel Coward and Tom Stoppard—to name a few—as well as viewers of British film and television imports, this helpful and entertaining guide defines the kinds of things that British authors thought needed no explanation.

Part dictionary, part guidebook, part almanac, part gazetter, part history, part sociology, this lexicon has no specialty, for it deals with British culture in general. David Grote's guiding principle was to select terminology with the potential to confuse readers who know only American English. Consequently, the volume is organized as a dictionary, with entries for concepts, items, and names that might create confusion. Entries are arranged alphabetically, from ten basic categories: (1) titles, ranks, and honours; (2) widely used words not part of the typical American vocabulary; (3) words used differently in America and Britain; (4) customs, terminology, and activities of daily life not shared by Americans; (5) governmental organizations; (6) political and legal customs and methods; (7) communities, and places often used in literary works; (8) foods and common commercial products; (9) common animals and plants not found in the same form in America; and (10) basic social practices that differ considerably from modern American practice. Ideally kept on hand for ready referral when immersed in fictional Britain, this dictionary will make for many enjoyable hours of random or systematic browsing. A true companion to British literature, its concern is not authors and literary history, but the slang, bureaucracy, stereotypes of places, food and products used in daily life, social organization, and hundreds of such homespun items.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
For Americans facing British culture in books, on TV, or in other media, this dictionary really fills a void. What is bubble and squeak ? How do you roger ? Who is a yob ? Can these words be used in polite society? Most of us know about ``reading'' law at university, but what does a student achieve with A-levels and O-levels? Who says any road instead of anyway ? Where are the Home Counties? This dictionary answers questions like these and more that our American dictionaries of the English language don't. It's also great fun to read for no reason at all. Recommended for most collections.-- Kitty Chen Dean, Nassau Coll., Garden City, N.Y.
Booknews
For American readers of British fiction, as well as viewers of British film and television imports, this entertaining guide defines the kinds of things that British authors thought needed no explanation. Part dictionary, part guidebook, part almanac, it deals with British culture in general, comprising entries on hundreds of terms, items, and names that have the potential to confuse readers who know only American English. Some pronunciations are provided. Spot on. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Zom Zoms
This book is introduced--and justified--by an Oscar Wilde quotation: "The English have everything in common with the Americans--except language." While reading British authors, viewing films based on the novels of E. M. Forster or Thomas Hardy, or watching PBS's "Masterpiece Theatre," we often have to rely on contextual clues to help us guess the meaning of words like "dingle" a small hollow among hills, "tuck" candies and such sent from home to children at boarding school, "bursary" a scholarship or grant, or "neeps" turnips Here is a book to answer questions about British terms. "British English for American Readers" has entries in one alphabet for words in these categories: titles, ranks, and honors; widely used words not part of the typical American vocabulary; words used differently in America and Britain; customs, terminology, and activities of daily life not shared by Americans; governmental organizations; political and legal customs and methods; communities and places often used in literary works; foods and common commercial products; common animals and plants not found in the same form in America; and social practices that differ from modern American practice. The entry "Battersea" tells a good deal about this area near the Thames; "tea" and "cheese" describe the many varieties of each and the customs associated with these foods; "BBC" gives a short history of this famous organization. Author Grote, a magazine editor, points out that he is not British and therefore knows which British terms need explanation. "British English" places emphasis on place-names, especially in London. Terms from other parts of the British Empire, especially India, are included. An asterisk in the text of an entry indicates a word that has its own entry. Seven appendixes explain more mysteries of British life, including money and values, reigns and historic dates, class structure, calendar of holidays and festivals, military ranks, and honors and initials "British English, A to Zed", by Norman Schur Facts On File, 1989, covers much the same ground as "British English for American Readers", but each book has many unique terms and features. The title under review has unusually broad coverage, including elements found in guidebooks, almanacs, gazetteers, and history and sociology books. On the other hand, "A to Zed" has a list of automotive terms, cricket terms, and information on British punctuation and style. It includes occasional quotations by way of illustrating word meanings. A smaller library owning "A to Zed" could bypass purchase of "British English", but libraries could certainly use both books Eminently browsable, "British English" provides the type of pleasure found by dipping into "Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable" or "Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia", where one learns something for the pure fun of it. "British English" is appropriate for all public libraries and for libraries in educational institutions from high school through graduate school.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313278518
  • Publisher: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/28/1992
  • Pages: 728
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.05 (h) x 2.09 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction

British English for American Readers

Appendixes: Money and Values

Reigns and Historic Dates

Class Structure

Calendar of Holidays and Festivals

Military Ranks

Honours and Initials

Selected Bibliography

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