Divided by a Common Language: A Guide to British and American English

Divided by a Common Language: A Guide to British and American English

by Christopher Davies


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Puzzled by signs warning you to “mind the gap” in the London Underground? Wondering what will be on your plate if you order “toad in the hole” in a London café? In Divided by a Common Language, Christopher Davies explains these expressions and discusses the many differences in pronunciation, spelling, and vocabulary between British and American English. He compares the customs, manners, and practical details of daily life in the United Kingdom and the United States, and American readers will enjoy his account of American culture as seen through an Englishman’s eyes. Davies tops it off with an amusing list of expressions that sound innocent enough in one country but make quite the opposite impression in the other. Two large glossaries help travelers translate from one variety of English to the other, and additional lists explain the distinctive words of Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Divided by a Common Language is the ideal travel companion for both British visitors to the U.S. and American visitors to the U.K. It is also the perfect book for Britons interested in American culture and Americans enjoying British novels, movies, and television at home.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780618911622
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 09/26/2007
Pages: 258
Sales rank: 523,056
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.56(d)

About the Author

CHRISTOPHER DAVIES was born and raised in England and spent several years living in Australia and New Zealand. In 1980 he settled in Florida. The many unfamiliar expressions and pronunciations that he encountered in American English led him to write Divided by a Common Language.

Table of Contents

Foreword     v
Acknowledgments     v
Guide to Pronunciation and Other Symbols Used     vi
How Did British and American English Become So Different?     1
Some Answers     1
The Industrial Revolution     3
Countries that Enriched the American Language     4
Pronouncing British Place Names     7
Tips for the Tourist     8
At the Airport     8
At the Hotel     8
Practical Information     10
Automobiles     10
Gasoline (Petrol)     11
Telephones     12
For the Technically Minded     15
Plumbing     15
Electricity     16
Institutions and Services     18
The Postal System     18
Banking     20
The Currency     21
Restaurants     23
Bars     30
Shopping     31
Pronunciation of Food Names     33
Some Different Cooking Measurements     34
Groceries Known by Different Names     34
Clothing and Shoes Known by Different Names     38
Schools     40
Health Care     43
The Political Systems     44
Museums     46
The Theatre     46
Differences in Customs and Etiquette     48
Transportation     54
Pronunciation and Grammar     73
Spelling     84
Sundry Terms     95
Some Different Furnishing Terms     95
Some Different Terms for Tools     96
Some Different Medical Terms     97
Carnival (Funfair) Terms     99
Some Different Gardening Terms     100
What Not to Say     101
Idioms and Expressions     108
Notes on Symbols and Abbreviations     131
Miscellaneous Information     134
UK-US Lexicon     137
US-UK Lexican     178
Explanations     220
Other Varieties of English     228
Canada     228
Australia     230
New Zealand     234
South Africa     235
Cockney Rhyming Slang     237
Afterword     240
Index     243

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Divided by a Common Language: A Guide to British and American English 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
wktarin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Enlightening and entertaining.
madamejeanie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love this book! Since my discovery of the Internet (and Usenet in particular), I have developed friendships with people all over the world and several in both the UK and Australia. I am constantly running into the "wall" that divides us -- our common language. There is seldom a week that goes by that I'm not learning something new, or offending someone quite unintentionally! This volume is worth it's weight in gold to me. LOL Now, when I'm trying to describe something to one of my foreign friends, I can look it up in here and use the American word for it, along with what /they/ call it, so they'll know what I'm talking about. I seriously doubt if this book will ever make it back onto the bookshelf. It will live right here on my desk so it'll be handy to grab for interpretation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
FrigginLimey More than 1 year ago
Great book over all. Having moved from the UK to the USA I find this book very informative and useful. Some of the words are a little archaic but over all great and quite accurate.