Say What? Versus I Say
Mark Twain once said about the United States and Great Britain that we were “two countries separated by a common language.” Even as a little kid I had an ear—and tongue—for different languages and accents. To be sure, I sometimes got into trouble by demonstrating this talent at the wrong times and places. In fact, before going to kindergarten I had already detected that there were people who spoke English differently from how my parents and I did. I had examples near at hand from all four grandparents, my Irish nanny, and our African American housekeeper, not to mention the radio. British accents and a vocabulary that I sometimes could only guess at were an early example...
Now, of course, many Americans have become familiar with some of these word differences by watching BBC and ITV shows on PBS. My older daughter who spent five years as a young adult in England will occasionally still say peckish for hungry and nackered for tired. Although these word differences run into the dozens, here are 16 of the most common ones:
British English American English
mobile phone cell phone
chips French fries
loo (or WC) bathroom (or restroom)
biscuit cookie or cracker
boot (of a car) trunk
chemist drugstore or pharmacist
bonnet (of a car) hood
car park parking lot
shopping trolley shopping cart
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