I'm afraid of Americanisms July 3, 2012 9:23 PM   Subscribe

This comment got me thinking about regional slang and different dialects of English on MetaFilter.

After I read it I imagined a Mefite from some non-American part of the globe looking at the same comment and asking themselves "what is 'fraidy cat'?" and searching their dictionaries in vain for a definition of "fraidy" (although I'm sure nowadays you would just Google it, but bear with me here). According to the Online Etymology Dictionary this expression was first recorded in America in 1871, and I'm not sure but I don't think it's a term used much outside of the US. Have any of you been utterly stumped by what a commenter was trying to say by their use of slang/regional expressions? I find this to be an interesting topic.
posted by MattMangels to MetaFilter-Related at 9:23 PM (372 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

Have any of you been utterly stumped by what a commenter was trying to say by their use of slang/regional expressions?

Can't say I really have. We've gotten distracted by the differing UK/US emphasis of words like c*nt and bugger, but I can't recall ever being "utterly stumped" by anything but "taters," which isn't regional. However, we do have frequent AskMe discussions about idioms and I learn some I've never heard before.
posted by Miko at 9:31 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you come from the Anglosphere you've probably been exposed to enough US TV to work out all but the newest US slang.

"'Fraidy Cat" doesn't even come across as particularly American to me.
posted by pompomtom at 9:32 PM on July 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Nothing that I couldn't work out based on the contex. As pompomtom says, lots of TV goes globally these days.
posted by arcticseal at 9:34 PM on July 3, 2012


I find the British awfully casual about knocking people up.

I had no idea what an estate agent was for the longest time; I thought it was like a will executor who happened to be selling a dead guy's house as part of his general duties.

Council Estates or Council Flats don't register as "housing projects" for most Americans, I've seen that confusion play out in the comments.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:34 PM on July 3, 2012 [12 favorites]


This happens whenever a British person misspells curb, color, truck, tc.
posted by dfriedman at 9:34 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Context. I can spell, just can't type.
posted by arcticseal at 9:35 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Usually context is all I need for regional differences.

But I'm not terribly well versed in internet slang, so phrases like "AwesomeSauce" and "Brony" send me to Urban Dictionary.
posted by zarq at 9:39 PM on July 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


I always enjoy reading in the morning after the Australian/NZ contingency signs off, what with all their "metres" and "favourites". It's like a whole 'nother conversation happens at night.
posted by Think_Long at 9:43 PM on July 3, 2012 [11 favorites]


"well spotted" used to confuse me.
posted by Miko at 9:44 PM on July 3, 2012


Every time I see someone write that they're "chuffed" I momentarily mistake it for its opposite.
posted by nobody at 10:02 PM on July 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


Someone on this site used the word "seppo" a few years ago, I had to look that one up.

But I wouldn't say that I was utterly stumped. Maybe if this post had been made 10 or 15 years ago. The question seems to rely on Google (or internet search in general) never having been invented. As it was, it took me about 3 seconds to find out.

"Hardcore taters" on the other hand.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:03 PM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I believe it was ol' Lovecraft in Brooklyn who used the word "seppo". Coincidentally, ActingTheGoat, he named himself after a song by the Mountain Goats.

Upon consideration I suppose with Google it is not really possible to be "utterly stumped"; I'm just curious about the effect a site like this, with so many people from different parts of the Anglosphere (not to mention plenty of people who speak English as a second language), has on the vocabulary of its readers. I recall seeing an article maybe a year ago about phrases that Americans are using online that were previously exclusively British. "Crap" as an adjective (as opposed to the more common "crappy") was one of the words cited. "Wanking" too.
posted by MattMangels at 10:21 PM on July 3, 2012


Back when I was at university, in the early days of Eternal September, I got pulled up for plagiarism. My lecturer had spotted some stuff in one of my assignments that clearly marked it as having been written by an American, I'd just stolen the whole thing from the internet, hadn't I? Admit it!

Exonerating myself involved a long explanation of what HTML was, what the center and color tags did, why they wouldn't validate if I used British spelling and how the internet had therefore fucked my ability to spell those words.
posted by the latin mouse at 10:35 PM on July 3, 2012 [34 favorites]


This happens whenever a British person misspells curb, color, truck, tc.

The only thing that redeems you from your misguided and somewhat chauvinistic misconception of proper spelling is the fact that, by all, accounts, Noah Webster was a Rousseauian mensch.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:36 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


MattMangels: 'I believe it was ol' Lovecraft in Brooklyn who used the word "seppo".'

Looks like godidog was the first, followed a few years later by Jimbob, with a few more Aussies & Kiwis starting to use it after that.

LiB, bless his little shoulder-chipped heart, didn't turn up until 2011 and only used it 7 or 8 times (out of the 39 pages Google fins on MeFi).
posted by Pinback at 10:48 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's the slang that gets confusing so much as the different regional terms for non-slang things, as Eyebrows McGee says. Slang tends to be pretty much universally dispersed via TV and the internets, and I guess you also know it's always changing and fluid and therefore you expect to encounter variations and things you have to look up.

'Fraidy cat is fairly obvious; it's the less eloquent cousin of the scaredy cat from Ballarat who went to school and got the strap, sat upon the teacher's lap, and possibly did some other things I can't remember.
posted by andraste at 10:54 PM on July 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm just curious about the effect a site like this, with so many people from different parts of the Anglosphere

I've been wondering about this as well recently. The one that I notice the most is American Mefites using "good on him" instead of "good for him." I used to think that this was an affectation, but now I'm not so sure.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:57 PM on July 3, 2012


"Good on him/good on ya" is also a longstanding Australianism.
posted by andraste at 11:01 PM on July 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


As a Canadian, I'm sometimes thrown off by the use of "Eh" as a synonym for "Meh".
posted by Crane Shot at 11:02 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Someone said they were chuffed (I can't remember where). I had to look it up. It's British for pleased as punch.
posted by patheral at 11:07 PM on July 3, 2012


I suppose I should mention that at first I thought chuffed meant pissed (angry). I dunno why, but that's what came to my American mind.
posted by patheral at 11:12 PM on July 3, 2012 [9 favorites]


This thread is pants.
posted by eddydamascene at 11:13 PM on July 3, 2012 [19 favorites]


I don't recall ever being stumped here, but watching TV from other Anglophone countries I sometimes am. I think seeing things written out makes it easier to figure out context.

Then again, I have to google "smh" every time someone on Facebook uses it, so clearly I am not up on the current slang.
posted by Sara C. at 11:14 PM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Took me some years to realize a "solicitor" wasn't just a guy who goes door to door asking for money.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:24 PM on July 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


The could/couldn't care less thing stumped me initially as a British person although I of course rationalised it as Americans being illiterate

That was pre MeFi, pre Google as well , although I'm still not sure I know why the septics get it wrong
posted by criticalbill at 11:31 PM on July 3, 2012


"Good on him/good on ya" is also a longstanding Australianism.

Of course. But I would be surprised if most of the Mefites who use it are Australian-Americans.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:34 PM on July 3, 2012


It's swings and roundabouts isn't it? If some plonker witters on like a big girl's blouse he's probably away with the fairies, or all mouth and no trousers. Still it's even stevens and everyone should keep their pecker up.
posted by iotic at 11:39 PM on July 3, 2012 [30 favorites]


If I may piggyback onto this post: In American English, one says "sports" and "math". In British English, one says "sport" and "maths". Why is that?
posted by cmonkey at 11:50 PM on July 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


Far more often I get excited thinking I've come across a new idiom but it turns out to be a one off.

For example, just a few threads down a user referred to an event as "crushing my kid in a manner that only a wet tennis ball could fix". It would be awesome to find out that was an idiom somewhere, but no such luck.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:53 PM on July 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


If I may piggyback onto this post: In American English, one says "sports" and "math". In British English, one says "sport" and "maths". Why is that?

Conservation of 'S's.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:54 PM on July 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


I like to think that clavdivs lives on a tiny offshore island principality, the small population of which all speak the same impenetrable and dreamily allusive dialect.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:04 AM on July 4, 2012 [23 favorites]


Maths = Mathematics

Not sure about the sport/sports, except I suppose it conforms to the same usage as "science," for example, as opposed to "sciences."
posted by taz (staff) at 12:04 AM on July 4, 2012


I have dreadful sleeping habits, so my first few years on MetaFilter included late night coversations with Australians and Kiwis. And it mostly involved discussions of Vegemtite and then running to the hillside for the Lighting of the Beacons. Later, we discussed the Barry McKenzie films and sang along to the music of the Presets ...

Wait. It is possible I dreamed all that.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:11 AM on July 4, 2012


cmonkey: "If I may piggyback onto this post: In American English, one says "sports" and "math". In British English, one says "sport" and "maths". Why is that"

To my understanding, it is because there is only one sport so far as any given Briton is concerned (either cricket or soccfootball).
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:14 AM on July 4, 2012


You must have a lot of spunk because this is a very spunky post.
posted by unliteral at 12:18 AM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I once met a Brit who informed me that he was in the navy. When I asked which navy that might be he roared back, "THE ONLY NAVY!"

He was a bit drunk, to be fair.

So what's with the English and taking the piss out of someone? What do you do with the piss once you have it? And this is generally seen as embarrassing somehow to the person who isn't left covered in urine?
posted by ODiV at 12:28 AM on July 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Seppo is completely new to me, and I prided myself on knowing all the derogatory terms for Amercians.
posted by londonmark at 12:32 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Heh. I got quite a few favorites for a comment playing with British vs. American English.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:40 AM on July 4, 2012


I, too, like chatting about interesting topics. In fact, I will do so now with the people sitting near me.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:43 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


The ones that trip me up are words that mean the inverse in American English vs. Canadian English like "table" when used to refer to legislation.
posted by Mitheral at 1:08 AM on July 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


I grew up in Canada, went to college and lived in the States for 20 years, and then moved to Australia, where I currently work for a British expat. My spelling and vernacular and accent are destroyed.
"Let's root, root, root for the home team" makes Aussies laugh and laugh.
posted by gingerest at 1:41 AM on July 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


Took me some years to realize a "solicitor" wasn't just a guy who goes door to door asking for money.

A law firm I used to walk by on my way to the shops was called "Molloy Seymour McLoughlin", trading under the glorious name "MSM SOLICITORS". They've since had a change of management unfortunately.
posted by rollick at 1:45 AM on July 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Some po-faced yank told me off in MetaTalk last year for using too many Britishisms, claiming they deliberately purged their comments of all Americanisms so that the international audience might better understand them.

Thing is, most people have no idea what's British- or American-English beyond the obvious lift/elevator type stuff - see the minor web kerfuffle caused by Matthew Engel's snobby piece on 'Americanisms', most of which turned out to be of British origin.

If I'd had to guess, I'd've pegged "'Fraidy cat" as British, perhaps from a Music Hall song, or Jeeves & Wooster (or, like every British phrase that isn't from Shakespeare or the KJV, a reference to some terrible practice in the Navy).

Which is to say, use all the slang you like - it might not be as regional as you think, and looking up words is fun for everyone.
posted by jack_mo at 1:48 AM on July 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


"Let's root, root, root for the home team" makes Aussies laugh and laugh.

When I was at school someone had a cassette featuring Australian comedians impersonating cricket commentators. It was a horribly racist and homophobic routine, but they used the phrase "A slap, a kiss, a dry root" at one point, which I still think is one of the funniest/most disturbing sentences ever uttered in English.
posted by jack_mo at 1:58 AM on July 4, 2012


So what's with the English and taking the piss out of someone? What do you do with the piss once you have it? And this is generally seen as embarrassing somehow to the person who isn't left covered in urine?

My understanding is that in ye olden slang, 'piss proud' was a term used for morning wood. So 'taking the piss' is where you use mockery to... um... deflate somebody.

'Taking the Michael' and 'Taking the Mickey' are straight up Cockney rhyming slang. Mickey Bliss = Piss.
posted by the latin mouse at 2:04 AM on July 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


If some plonker witters on like a big girl's blouse he's probably away with the fairies, or all mouth and no trousers.

Or all tip and no iceberg.
posted by flabdablet at 2:16 AM on July 4, 2012


It's always been my impression/deduction that it's the Americans who are most thrown or flustered by seeing unfamiliar expressions here. Those of us from elsewhere fully understand that this is a US site and we all grow up alongside a big slice of US culture in movies & tv etc, so we tend to have more of a familiarity with standard US slang. And as many have said above, context takes care of a lot. (I agree with jack_mo : I would probably have pegged *fraidy-cat* as a UK expression -- some of these get so well used in different countries their origins get lost quite quickly)

I'm more likely to be thrown by unexplained use of US-regional stuff, like, say, state governors or maybe shop (oops, I mean STORE) names. In fact, the worst consequence of hanging out and commenting on mefi for a long time is the loss of my ability to easily sight-spell. It's not that I've adopted the sports and the math (because, apart from anything, I really hate those ones), it's more that I don't as quickly register and I can sometimes get confused about using an "s", say, or a "z", for example : wondering which one is the convention in MY language (in sympathise / sympathize etc).
posted by peacay at 2:30 AM on July 4, 2012


I sometimes get confused when I see someone I know to be American use words like "bloody" and "shite". I can't tell if my sense of regionalism is off, or if they just enjoy anglophilic iconoclasm.
posted by rollick at 2:40 AM on July 4, 2012


I'm more often troubled by bits of web-speak I'm not trendy enough to have caught up with. The Internet too, is a region.
posted by Segundus at 3:23 AM on July 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


I remember as a ten year old in the States for the first (and to date only) time, the mystified expression of the waitress as I asked for some "tomato sauce" for my hot dog. She thought I meant something like a pasta sauce, but of course, tomato sauce in AU is analagous to ketchup (different, sweeter, not as vinegary, thicker).

In general it's regional foodstuff. The way Americans use the term "biscuit" confuses the ever-loving shit out of me, I think I get it now, but I'm not entirely sure. Moon pies, Po'boys etc etc. All very confusing.
posted by smoke at 3:23 AM on July 4, 2012


Actually, what throws me off is words that Brits and Americans have in common but are used differently. Or, have different intensities as intensifiers.

The most obvious I can think of right now is that Americans have a lower standard for something being 'awesome' whereas Brits have a lower standard for something being 'brilliant' or 'stunning'
They're shared words that have acquired through usage, different shades of meaning.

On preview: I guess 'biscuit' is yet another one of these.
posted by vacapinta at 3:24 AM on July 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Giss on, me'ansum. You'm a great dobeck if 'ee reckon 'tis 'ard t'unnerstan 'ee.
posted by pipeski at 3:46 AM on July 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've been thinking a lot about the "good on/for" phrase lately. It's a subtle (and creative) form of linguistic reappropriation from another dialect (AusE).

"good for" is standard in AmE (and perhaps "good on" is standard in AusE). The two variants have the same denotative meaning, but the connotations are different. "good for", in AmE is literal and unmarked; "good on" is stylistic and in that sense, marked. It has an air to it, a bit more evaluative than "good for". I think this is because the preposition swap changes the diectic center of the action (the perspective, or where the ego is located in the statement). In "good for", the focus is entirely on the object (the "him") and the speaker of the statement is not 'in' the evaluation. In "good on" it's almost as if the speaker has an evaluation of the object, and it's a tangible "good" that is being pinned 'onto' the object. By placing the speaker in the statement in this way, the evaluative force of the statement is weightier, as a stance is constructed—there is a subject (the referent, the thing being evaluated...the thing that is "good"), the object (the "him") and the evaluator (the person doing the pinning/evaluating) in relation to those two. It creates a classic stance triangle (Dubois, 2007) this is more visible in the "good on him" phrasing than I sense in the "good for him" phrasing. This may not hold in AusE, as the prepositions themselves may have different uses and connotations (as well as the workings of evaluative stancetaking).

"chuffed" has always baffled me, too. I had a hard time seeing it as a positive thing...now I've heard it so much here in the UK that I have a hard time seeing it the old way. I think this one is to do with sound symbolism differences between US/UK. For me, a rare/unknown word like "chuffed" primes "miffed" and "cheesed (off)", and possibly things like "chip on shoulder" or "pissed". "miffed" and "pissed" also have the same phonetic shape as "chuffed"... consonant+vowel+continuant+voiced alveolar plosive. "chuffed" has an even stronger 'busted up' phonetic pattern than "pissed", and especially more so than "miffed" (although "miffed" and "chuffed" share the same middle fricative sound and letters), as it starts with an affricate (ch). Basically, the word starting and ending with non-continuant sounds (affricate and plosive, respectively) creates some cognitive dissonance with its semantics. You tend to want happy words to contain flowing, pleasing, continuant sounds... for example, which syllable in 'sublime' sounds more sublime-like?
posted by iamkimiam at 3:54 AM on July 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


I used to be confused about "Well, bless your heart."

As when I was younger when reading The Secret Garden, I still have to sound dialects out. Reading out loud the phrases said by an English-speaking Scotsman, for example, helps me make more sense of them.
posted by DisreputableDog at 4:00 AM on July 4, 2012


Shoots! Bumbai I like write plenny comments in da kine pidgin. K-den!
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:09 AM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


and possibly things like "chip on shoulder" or "pissed"

There's nothing wrong with being pissed.
posted by pompomtom at 4:19 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pure radio rental, the hail o' youse.
posted by scruss at 4:45 AM on July 4, 2012


One that really stands out for me is that in British English, "sick" is a noun and is something that you could ostensibly be covered in. On the other hand, to *be* sick in the American English sense is to be "poorly." Which doesn't make sense to me because it's an adverb, but whatevs. We "drive careful" around here, so y'know - neglected adverbs gotta go somewhere.
posted by sonika at 4:48 AM on July 4, 2012


I like how the word 'outwith' is a subtle marker of people who grew up in Scotland. Unlike other SSE grammar and vocabulary choices it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb in a dense block of text written in a formal register.

I do like trying to work out where people are from based on their use of vocabulary and grammar.

But that's enough spraffing from me.
posted by Talkie Toaster at 4:55 AM on July 4, 2012


There are a few Americanisms which I thought were just MeFi-isms for ages. In particular, grammatical constructions like "What is a...?" and "What are some...?" in Ask (to mean "Give me some recommendations for..." rather than "Give me a definition for..."), or the oddly formal-sounding "Where might I...?", and heaven knows how many others I've attributed to MeFi convention. By this point I would not be at all surprised to see Obama telling people to FIAMO in the election campaign.
posted by Catseye at 5:00 AM on July 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Someone not that long ago here in Metatalk thought pants in Britain meant crazy, rather than rubbish. They were corrected, things moved on.

I have no idea how I'm supposed to spell grey/gray any more. Both look right to me.
posted by Helga-woo at 5:02 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I sometimes get confused when I see someone I know to be American use words like "bloody" and "shite". I can't tell if my sense of regionalism is off, or if they just enjoy anglophilic iconoclasm."

I just commented on this in real life after hearing a rather stuffy midwestern American businessman who NEVER swears say "bloody" in a meeting. (Something along the lines of "This bloody law is going to create terrible problems for us ...") I've heard it with increasing frequency from Americans in the past couple of years. I think it's two things: First, that TV and movies work both ways and Americans see plenty of British media; and second, that "bloody" isn't an expletive in American English (ditto "shite" and "arse"), so you can say it in formal settings.

I also hear little kids call things "brilliant" now in the British way, which I assume is due to total Harry Potter immersion.

(Why is "root" funny? Is it sex? And I always read "smh" as "Sydney Morning Herald," which makes me think people are always retelling crazy stories they read in the paper this morning and just giving the citation. I also read "chuffed" as being an angry word when I first saw it, I guess because it's like "huffy." Now in my head it's a bird puffing out its chest and fluffing its feathers all up to look big because it's proud of itself, so I guess at least my mental image is on the right track now.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:20 AM on July 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


I am somehow going to jam fricative into my walkabout lexicon. imkimiam, goodonya mate!
posted by peacay at 5:23 AM on July 4, 2012


+a
posted by peacay at 5:26 AM on July 4, 2012


Fanny.
posted by unSane at 5:31 AM on July 4, 2012


Also I had a singing lesson yesterday and we had a very hard time getting past 'snatch breath'.
posted by unSane at 5:31 AM on July 4, 2012


Free Willy cracked me up as a teenager, too.
posted by unSane at 5:37 AM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


This happens whenever a British person misspells curb, color, truck, tc.

Back in the eighties when people like Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison first started writing for DC comics, they had this problem: too many "u"s in their scripts. So many so that editorial had to rent a trailer to move them all from the office.

A U-Haul
posted by MartinWisse at 5:38 AM on July 4, 2012 [33 favorites]


I dunno whatchins ur goin' on about here.
posted by octothorpe at 5:45 AM on July 4, 2012


phrases like "AwesomeSauce" and "Brony" send me to Urban Dictionary

They send me to my revolver! Bunch of smart people like there are here can do better. Don't start me on hill dying on and all that.
posted by skbw at 5:51 AM on July 4, 2012


Like many people educated at international schools I speak English as my L1 without really having a "home dialect". I often have no idea whether a particular expression that I use is idiomatic for British, American, or Australian speakers.
posted by atrazine at 5:53 AM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Totes McGotes had me running to Urban Dictionary, I will admit.
posted by unSane at 5:53 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


The one Americanism that confuses me every time (it may be regional, but I see it fairly often here) is the different use of the word 'Ugh'.

To my British mind, 'ugh' is a sound you make when (a) someone punches you in the gut, or (b) you want to express a feeling of disgust or nausea.

So when someone says something like 'Ugh. My USB ports are all working fine', or 'Ugh. I haven't seen the new popemobile', I find myself totally unable to parse their meaning.
posted by pipeski at 5:57 AM on July 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


This happens whenever a British person misspells curb, color, truck, tc.

Forgive a humble Brit's perplexity, but how do you think we ought to spell "truck"?
posted by aqsakal at 6:10 AM on July 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


Trck.
posted by Catseye at 6:14 AM on July 4, 2012 [12 favorites]


I think maybe they mean you call them lorries. Or so I've read, anyway - took me a bit of time to figure out what Douglas Adams was talking about the Rain God driving around in when I was in my early teens.
posted by Mooski at 6:15 AM on July 4, 2012


First time I saw "And Bob's your uncle." I said, "no I'm not".....
posted by HuronBob at 6:30 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't find it now, but a while ago there was a Metafilter discussion about some government or corporation making an obfuscatory, non-apologetic public apology, and one commenter said that the body in question should have said straightforwardly that the offense [offence] was "down to us." There ensued a pile-on of comments pointing out that the phrase "down to us" was a regionalism and anything but clear to the rest of us.
posted by Orinda at 6:32 AM on July 4, 2012


I like "Seppo" because it gives me license to come up with secretly insulting nicknames and derivations for people of other nationalities that I can use when I want to feel superior, or actually just adequate. For example, I call Australians "McGuckers" which is derived from "dogfuckers": dogfuckers, doggies, hog udders, boggies, log scudders, Gog mudders, Gog and Magog fuckers, so quite naturally and obviously... McGuckers!

I do this because I secretly hate myself.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:32 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, what's with all that slang I keep reading here? Such weird words like "myself"! Do you really speak like that? It's such an odd way to say mesen, where did you pick it up from?

Moreover, why do you end sentences half way through? Some woman once asked a question where she said she had "looked on my boyfriend's computer and he had porn". Pourn what? Watter, milk? Don't leave us hanging like that!
posted by Jehan at 6:39 AM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love this thread! But I've looked up 'smh' three times now and still have no idea what it means. 'Shaking my head', I guess?
posted by trip and a half at 6:44 AM on July 4, 2012


I assumed Sydney Morning Herald
posted by frimble at 6:48 AM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm currently watching a Danish show subtitled for the BBC and it's frequently confusing, such as when the police are looking for a saloon (station wagon).
posted by desjardins at 7:03 AM on July 4, 2012


That was my first thought as well, frimble, but now that I look back and see that it is a Facebook thing, I'm guessing the Urban Dictionary definition I found is right in the context.

Wevers.
posted by trip and a half at 7:04 AM on July 4, 2012


I used to think "SMH" was an acronym for "so much hate". It works in a lot of contexts!
posted by Defying Gravity at 7:09 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shite rhymes with might… right?
posted by desjardins at 7:11 AM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't find it now, but a while ago there was a Metafilter discussion about some government or corporation making an obfuscatory, non-apologetic public apology, and one commenter said that the body in question should have said straightforwardly that the offense [offence] was "down to us." There ensued a pile-on of comments pointing out that the phrase "down to us" was a regionalism and anything but clear to the rest of us.

If you've ever heard the Rolling Stones' Under My Thumb, the context makes it very clear.
posted by scratch at 7:13 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


smh = shaking (or slapping) my head in disbelief. It's like one level worse than facepalm.
posted by scratch at 7:14 AM on July 4, 2012


I'm currently watching a Danish show subtitled for the BBC and it's frequently confusing, such as when the police are looking for a saloon (station wagon).

I love "saloon car." It makes me think of a station wagon packed with drunks on their way to a bar.
posted by scratch at 7:16 AM on July 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh, you people.

A saloon isn't a station wagon.

Saloon = sedan
Estate car = station wagon
Shooting brake = woody, only posher
bonnet = hood
boot = trunk
posted by unSane at 7:28 AM on July 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Dutch translators who do subtitles usually get both a transcript and a copy of the show/film to work from. Useful, can help double check for errors. Common sense helps, too. A famous one that got through: "serial killer" was translated as "havermoutmoordenaar". Yes, apparently America was being terrorized by homicidal oatmeal.
posted by likeso at 7:34 AM on July 4, 2012 [11 favorites]


If I may piggyback onto this post: In American English, one says "sports" and "math". In British English, one says "sport" and "maths". Why is that?

GOOD QUESTION and one that I am uniquely qualified to answer. I can only pity you that no-one has informed you of the explanation before - but, the reason for that shall soon become apparent.

Firstly, Americans say "sports" because they excel at a plurality of sports. American persons are, as I understand, muscle-clogged, supple-sinewed beings, whose joy and delight is in expressing their physical prowess through graceful movement. Their constitutional fortitude is that of a Heracles, their unceasing determination that of a Sisyphus. This god-like race is justly renowned for excellence at all games and Olympian tasks. I salute them.

Britishers, in contrast, are a slovenly and pox-weary collective, and they are only good at one sport at a time (hence the singular usage). And what single sport is this? Well, no one is sure. Last month they thought it might be football. In this they were woefully mistaken. Now, they think it could be tennis - but, wait 'til the semi-finals.

Now, part two of my explanation: the math vs maths debate. What is obvious is that "math" is an abbreviation of mathowie, the well-beloved dictator of metafilter, a website devoted to all forms of arithmetic. It therefore stands to reason that Britonians have their own, parallel website, called metafiltre, run by an equal but opposite web-guru named Matthew Sowie. The moderators do not wish you to know this, because they fear you defecting to that alternate inter-portal and thus reducing their population of sports-loving thought-slaves (i.e., the rest of us).

It only remains for me to note that I can only resist their mind-command to yell “GO TEAM MODERATOR” at this point through the judicious use of a tinfoil hat.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:36 AM on July 4, 2012 [24 favorites]


Regarding the word "root," when I was living in New Zealand I had a Kiwi colleague who was Chinese by ethnicity, and she and a group of other Kiwi-Chinese had gone on a tour of China, and someone provided the group with t-shirts that had memorialized the group tour and included the phrase, "searching for roots," which was of enormous amusement to all concerned.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:38 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even though I know that British people call cookies biscuits and dessert pudding, I still picture the American version of those things when I read them. For example, up until last year, I always heard the end of Another Brick in the Wall as the deranged headmaster threatening to withhold jello pudding if the kids didn't eat their meat.

It also took me a while to figure out that an English "public school" is basically the opposite of an American "public school"
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:42 AM on July 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wiktionary gives the pronunciation of shite as /ʃaɪt/ so I have to assume it's pronounced fate.
posted by desjardins at 7:44 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, fart.
posted by desjardins at 7:46 AM on July 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Might is /maɪt/ in IPA, so /ʃaɪt/ rhymes. Fate is /feit/.
posted by nangar at 7:52 AM on July 4, 2012


It also took me a while to figure out that an English "public school" is basically the opposite of an American "public school"

The kids teach the adults and everyone walks around on their hands?
posted by ODiV at 7:54 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


A bit of a guess here but I think I'm right: 'sport', in British english, was originally a kind of synonym for 'fun', derived I think from the verbal use. You might say someone was 'at sport'. It wasn't until later that it became a generic noun for a game with formalized rules.

You might say that cricket was 'sport' but saying that it was 'a sport' came later. I think it probably had to do with the culture of games and sports in British public schools of the C19th, where many 'games' such as Rugby and Cricket were formalized and taken much more seriously (more seriously than academic studies in many cases). So I think it's at this point that the divide between 'sport' and 'game' probably became hardened.

In the US, I think only the latter version of the word has ever really taken root, so the use of 'sport' as a container noun for 'sports' seems unfamiliar.

As for Math/Maths, dropping the S is simple laziness and I will have nothing to do with it.
posted by unSane at 8:03 AM on July 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

It also took me a while to figure out that an English "public school" is basically the opposite of an American "public school"
I get the feeling that "public school" is becoming slowly outdated. It is still common, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was replaced by "private school". That should make things easier, as "private school" and "state school" hopefully read well in any dialect, even if they're not the most common names.
posted by Jehan at 8:08 AM on July 4, 2012


pipeski: The one Americanism that confuses me every time (it may be regional, but I see it fairly often here) is the different use of the word 'Ugh'.

To my British mind, 'ugh' is a sound you make when (a) someone punches you in the gut, or (b) you want to express a feeling of disgust or nausea.

So when someone says something like 'Ugh. My USB ports are all working fine', or 'Ugh. I haven't seen the new popemobile', I find myself totally unable to parse their meaning.


This American feels the same way you do. That usage seems totally off to me.

I forget about the "public school" thing everytime. I was watching Sherlock, and someone of obvious well-breeding and means was described as having gone to "public school". That was pretty jarring to me and it took probably 20 minutes for me to remember the different usage.
posted by spaltavian at 8:14 AM on July 4, 2012


The first time I ever heard the term "leaf peeping" was in an ask question, and it confused me in so many ways (and I'm in the US). My first thought was that it was something dirty (peeping Tom + leaves = ?). But that didn't make a lot of sense, so then I thought it must be some kind of activity for botanists or naturalists. After reading the rest of the question and answers, I realized it just meant driving around in your car looking at trees in the fall. But still, the term was so quaint and bizarre that I thought the poster must be British or some kind of foreigner, because what American would say "leaf peeping"??
posted by gueneverey at 8:22 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I get the feeling that "public school" is becoming slowly outdated. It is still common, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was replaced by "private school". That should make things easier, as "private school" and "state school" hopefully read well in any dialect, even if they're not the most common names.

Public school and private schools are, or were originally, different things. 'Public School' has a very specific meaning. They were originally schools which were not restricted to members of particular trades or guilds but were endowed for public use.

This usage was enshrined in the Public Schools act in the 1860s, which defined nine such public schools. This very tight definition was diluted when members of the Headmaster's Conference started calling their schools public schools, but the original nine schools identified by the Clarendon Commission -- St Paul's, Merchant Taylors', Charterhouse, Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Shrewsbury, Westminster and Winchester are unlikely to ever give up the monicker.
posted by unSane at 8:24 AM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


"chuffed" has always baffled me, too. I had a hard time seeing it as a positive thing

I had the same response as you initially to "chuffed," but I got it right when I likened it to "puffed" as in "all puffed up" about something. The mental image became a little bird with puffed-out chest feathers prancing around proudly = chuffed.

what American would say "leaf peeping"??

It's pretty handy in New England in the fall when we get a massive influx of tourists doing the scenic autumn in New England thing. It's such a specific type of activity and set of expectations and behaviors that it's decent shorthand just to call them "leaf-peepers."
posted by Miko at 8:25 AM on July 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

Public school and private schools are, or were originally, different things. 'Public School' has a very specific meaning. They were originally schools which were not restricted to members of particular trades or guilds but were endowed for public use.

This usage was enshrined in the Public Schools act in the 1860s, which defined nine such public schools. This very tight definition was diluted when members of the Headmaster's Conference started calling their schools public schools, but the original nine schools identified by the Clarendon Commission -- St Paul's, Merchant Taylors', Charterhouse, Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Shrewsbury, Westminster and Winchester are unlikely to ever give up the monicker.
Oh, I know they're different, but I don't think that difference is very meaningful to most people, moreso those who didn't go to such schools (99% of us). Like I said, it wouldn't surprise me if they were all slowly subsumed into "private school" with only the most careful or old fashioned people marking the difference.
posted by Jehan at 8:36 AM on July 4, 2012


Dutch translators who do subtitles usually get both a transcript and a copy of the show/film to work from. Useful, can help double check for errors. Common sense helps, too. A famous one that got through: "serial killer" was translated as "havermoutmoordenaar".

Dutch subtitles drive me nuts nine out of ten times right about the time chewing the fat was translated literally. Kill with fire.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:42 AM on July 4, 2012


I am rarely baffled by slang/regionalisms here on MetaFilter (so many hours spent reading un-Americanized British fiction really were good for something, yay!) And because this is the internet, any stumpedness is easily resolved.

But I am regularly surprised and delighted at how enthusiastic the denizens of this website are to talk about language use. Go MetaFilter! Wheee!
posted by SMPA at 8:50 AM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was up in Vancouver last year and found that the locals were unaware of the second meaning of "grouse". Among other things the site I was visiting had a "Grouse" conference room, which I found somewhat apt. I thought they should have named the rest of them "Moan", "Whine", "Bitch", "Complain", etc.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:57 AM on July 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


Free Willy cracked me up as a teenager, too.

For what it's worth, it cracked up American kids too. I think laughing at a movie about a kid and his enormous marine penis friend was an international pass-time for a couple years there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:04 AM on July 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you've ever heard the Rolling Stones' Under My Thumb, the context makes it very clear.

Oh. God. That song makes so much more sense now.
posted by Sara C. at 9:18 AM on July 4, 2012


It's such a specific type of activity and set of expectations and behaviors that it's decent shorthand just to call them "leaf-peepers."

This reminds me of a term my grandpa and uncles picked up working at the main Sears store in Chicago: "peanut-eaters" means customers, specifically the sort who aren't really there to buy, just to look at things.

Apparently there was a stand by the entrance where you could buy a bag of fresh roasted peanuts. Store clerks used "peanut-eaters" as a term of opprobrium for those who would buy a bag and wander around the store putting greasy fingerprints on merchandise they weren't planning to buy. Employees would have to go around and wipe up after the peanut-eaters so paying customers could buy unsmudged wares.

Eventually they stopped selling peanuts, but the term stuck around.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 9:22 AM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


That's interesting, Ice Cream Socialist. Peanuts have had a role in a lot of American pejoratives.
posted by Miko at 9:26 AM on July 4, 2012


pipeski, I have no idea what you're talking about. I've never encountered anyone in the US using "Ugh" as anything but an expression of disgust. Do you have any links? My only explanation is that it might be an autocorrect error when they meant to type "Um"?
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:58 AM on July 4, 2012


Now I've just been reminded of the difference between England having a drugs problem and America having a drug problem so I suppose this etymological mystery may never be properly resolved.
posted by cmonkey at 10:27 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now I've just been reminded of the difference between England having a drugs problem and America having a drug problem so I suppose this etymological mystery may never be properly resolved.

In Eyes Wide Shut, which takes place in New York, there's a shot of a newspaper headline describing someone's death from a "drugs overdose". Strange that Kubrick would miss a detail like that.
posted by Crane Shot at 10:40 AM on July 4, 2012


Yeah, every time I see or hear a headline about a "drugs problem" somewhere I think to myself "WORDS PROBLEM" and lol a hearty lol.
posted by elizardbits at 10:53 AM on July 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


I would guess "drug problem" would come from people originally talking about a drug use problem and later when such discussions became terribly common they started dropping "use".

Not a regionalism, but I have had a several experiences living in France with people asking me (in English) whether I would prefer to have a douche now or wait until morning. Thus far I have managed to just keep a straight face and ask where the towels are.
posted by Winnemac at 11:22 AM on July 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


You know what else bothers me? Headlines that read, "Extinction threat for panda, gorilla." I'm sat there thinking why a gorilla might be warning us about extinction of the panda, then I realize that some folk use a comma to mean "and" in headlines. I can understand it when they're short of space in physical media, but it's incredibly poor form otherwise. It makes the writer look like they're only half literate.
posted by Jehan at 11:36 AM on July 4, 2012


New President Feels Nation's Pain, Breasts.
posted by sonika at 11:39 AM on July 4, 2012


"Extinction threat for panda, gorilla."

That sounds like the party being addressed is a environmentally unaware gorilla.
posted by elizardbits at 12:05 PM on July 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


Here's a real example from CNN's front page: "'Amazing' feats to survive storms, heat wave".

Why not just put in the and? Argh!
posted by Jehan at 12:14 PM on July 4, 2012


Headlines always omit conjunctions. It sounds clearer without the "and". If it was supposed to be the gorilla warning us, they would have used a colon not a comma.
posted by spaltavian at 12:18 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, it would be "Gorilla: Extinction threat for panda"
posted by desjardins at 12:21 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


English newspaper headlines can be confusing too. Yesterday's Evening Standard had the headline: "Djokovic and Federer enjoy watching briefs". I had to read it several times before I realised what it meant.
posted by verstegan at 12:22 PM on July 4, 2012

Headlines always omit conjunctions. It sounds clearer with the "and".
You're just used to it. Coming at this as an outsider, it's really unclear what some of these headlines mean.
posted by Jehan at 12:25 PM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am going to take a wild guess and assume it has nothing to do with manpanties.
posted by elizardbits at 12:26 PM on July 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


Somebody upthread mentioned fricative as a new "walking-around lexicon" addition, and so a sort-of non sequitur: Kaitlin and Rick (SNL) is a stellar example of voiceless alveolar lateral fricative, which I find funny regardless of circumstances.
posted by exlotuseater at 12:28 PM on July 4, 2012


I was introduced to the word fricative by one of George Carlin's bits from back when he was still wearing bell bottoms. He waxes on about how a bronx cheer is a Bilabial fricative. Turns out he was wrong however as a bronx cheer is actually a linguolabial trill.
posted by Mitheral at 12:40 PM on July 4, 2012


The headline talk reminds me of an apocryphal story of a Providence Journal sports page headline about the University of Rhode Island winning its conference wrestling championship.

"URI: NE Wrestling Champs," the headline supposedly read.

(And that story in turn never fails to remind me of the stint Krusty the Klown did as a late night talk show host and when he said, "Now I know why they call them 'urine monkeys,' urrggh.")
posted by MoonOrb at 12:46 PM on July 4, 2012


For some reason, some Australians find a certain Canadian clothing maker unintentionally hilarious.
posted by frimble at 12:48 PM on July 4, 2012


I had no idea that the Australian use of "root" to mean "have sex" was so ubiquitous as to render all other uses of the word hilarious.

I mean, "root" has a lot of different meanings. What do you guys call the parts of plants that go in the ground? How do you talk about etymology? How do you express the act of being a fan of a sports team?
posted by Sara C. at 1:20 PM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


So when someone says something like 'Ugh. My USB ports are all working fine', or 'Ugh. I haven't seen the new popemobile', I find myself totally unable to parse their meaning.

I'm not sure I've heard this. It might be a particularly grunty 'eh' or 'enh'. Is the meaning something like, "What I'm about to report is normal but there is some reason I would rather report something else, such as to be able to express sympathy with you, or a wish to add something interesting to the conversation when I can report only boring truth, or perhaps even a private chain of thought I was having has come to a disappointing end as a result of this pesky mundane fact which I'm about to point out."?
posted by fleacircus at 1:25 PM on July 4, 2012


This happens whenever a British person misspells curb, color, truck, tc.

Whenever an American misspells kerb, colour and lorry, a "u" gets its wings.
posted by arcticseal at 1:25 PM on July 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


None of the above can compare to my surprise at being invited to go cottaging by an innocent and generous Ontarian.
O_o
posted by scruss at 1:32 PM on July 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


I would guess "drug problem" would come from people originally talking about a drug use problem and later when such discussions became terribly common they started dropping "use".

Right, but where is the logic in pluralizing to "drugs" even in cases when only one drug is being discussed? MADNESS.
posted by elizardbits at 1:36 PM on July 4, 2012


Okay, can someone please explain this "down to me/us" thing? Context is giving me no help at all.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:01 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sara C: 'root' meaning 'to cheer for a team', is never used in Australian English. (Or the UK or NZ for that matter).

Root as in 'part of a plant' gives rise to puns like the dodgy chat up line: "ever tripped over a fallen branch? No? Well how about a root?" and "a Kiwi is a creature that eats, roots, shoots and leaves".
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:02 PM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mooski: "Or so I've read, anyway - took me a bit of time to figure out what Douglas Adams was talking about the Rain God driving around in when I was in my early teens."

I had the same problem with 'dressing gown'. I briefly considered the option that Arthur Dent was a crossdresser, but decided it was unlikely.
posted by Gordafarin at 2:03 PM on July 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


> Okay, can someone please explain this "down to me/us" thing? Context is giving me no help at all.

In this context "down to" means "attributable to, the responsibility of" (amusingly illustrated by the Economist's style guide, which stuffily forbids it).
posted by languagehat at 2:37 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Ugh, these bloody things are everywhere. They're in the lift, in the lorry, in the bond wizard, and all over the malonga gilderchuck."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:40 PM on July 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Right, but where is the logic in pluralizing to "drugs" even in cases when only one drug is being discussed? MADNESS.

It might only be one drug, but I can assure you I'm taking more than one of it.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:41 PM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have no idea how I'm supposed to spell grey/gray any more. Both look right to me.

Oh, that has been such a problem for me. I read too much Victorian literature as a kid and it completely screwed up my ability to spell.

The last time I was stumped by by a Britishism was while watching The Office (UK) when Tim uses the term "Bender" during one of his pranks on Gareth. I sort of figured it was a gay reference but I had never heard the term before.

These days my husband and I are huge fans of The BBC News Quiz and have listened to all the past episodes we can find. Boy do they love a good motion joke.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:11 PM on July 4, 2012


How do you express the act of being a fan of a sports team?

You don't root for them, unless you're being ironic or funny or something. You "barrack" for a team, for just simple "go for".
posted by smoke at 3:14 PM on July 4, 2012


First time I saw "And Bob's your uncle." I said, "no I'm not".....

As a college student I had a couple of older Kiwi friends who enjoyed saying "...and Robert's your father's brother." I think mostly just to confuse my dumb 19yo self. Then I heard it used in Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and I felt like I was in on the joke.

Of course, they were horribly offended when I said the phrase "fanny pack."

I only spell grey with an e. An A makes the word look ugly.
posted by Existential Dread at 3:18 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


The last time I was stumped by by a Britishism was while watching The Office (UK) when Tim uses the term "Bender" during one of his pranks on Gareth. I sort of figured it was a gay reference but I had never heard the term before.

I expect this makes the last airbender cartoons a trillion times funnier to our children than Free Willy ever could have been for us.
posted by dng at 3:26 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


How do you express the act of being a fan of a sports team?

You barrack for them, or follow them, or go for them.

The things plants send into the ground are still roots; the sexual meaning is only a slang term. Like "rubber" for condom - the "proper" meaning of a rubber being a pencil eraser. This caused endless amusement to my fourteen-year-old classmates. "Have you got a rubber?" "Nah, not on me".

Of course, they were horribly offended when I said the phrase "fanny pack."

The first time I really understood that "fanny" wasn't as rude in America as it is here was when I first heard the theme song to "The Nanny". They used the word fanny! Right there in the theme song! Of a family show!
posted by andraste at 3:48 PM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


The first time I really understood that "fanny" wasn't as rude in America as it is here was when I first heard the theme song to "The Nanny". They used the word fanny! Right there in the theme song! Of a family show!

While we're here, what the fuck's this all about, America?
posted by dng at 3:59 PM on July 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Unless that's not actually real, in which case I apologise to you all, especially Superman.
posted by dng at 4:03 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


While we're here, what the fuck's this all about, America?

We get a lot of British film / TV where "wanker" is used, as it is, as a semi-mild insult, and hardly anybody in the US knows the derivation of it from, well, wanking, so it gets used by people who are lacking the context to know why it's rude / what it means in places where they don't want to use American Rude Word equivalents. Sort of like the discussion of "bloody" upthread.
posted by junco at 4:10 PM on July 4, 2012


But Superman? It's shocked me to my very core.
posted by dng at 4:13 PM on July 4, 2012


Y'all talk funny, y'know that?
posted by jquinby at 4:17 PM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


But Superman? It's shocked me to my very core.
Not only Superman!
posted by junco at 4:22 PM on July 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


A Bulgarian co-worker recently described another co-worker as someone who "kills all the fish," which I gather is a literal translation of a Bulgarian idiom. I'm still trying to work out exactly what the mental image is supposed to convey. (From context, it seems to mean "continues to ask stupid questions long after the answer should be obvious.")
posted by Karmakaze at 4:26 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not only Superman!

Oh dear lord, I'm not sure my delicate heart cannot take anymore of this.
posted by dng at 4:27 PM on July 4, 2012


Fuckin' A!
posted by jonmc at 4:46 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


^Shooting brake = woody, only posher

I don't think you mean a woody. I think you mean a woodie, but I think a shooting-brake is essentuially what Americans would call a luxury SUV.

Oddly enough, what Australia calls utilities or utes are either pickups or your El Camino-style truck-car (called a coupé utility, and yes, Australians pronounce the accent aigu), not SUVs.
posted by gingerest at 5:06 PM on July 4, 2012


Not only Superman!

Oh dear lord, I'm not sure my delicate heart cannot take anymore of this.


Not to worry! Wilma said bollix, not bollocks.
posted by likeso at 5:09 PM on July 4, 2012


Bollocks.

link
posted by likeso at 5:11 PM on July 4, 2012


Fuckin' A!

In university I had an American friend who would use "Fuckin' A!" as a negative and who would say a sports team was "sucking it up" if they were doing poorly. It drove me up the wall.

Also, I have it on good authority that Ward was a little too hard on the Beaver last night.
posted by ODiV at 5:24 PM on July 4, 2012


They're shared words that have acquired through usage, different shades of meaning.

On preview: I guess 'biscuit' is yet another one of these.


I said GOOD DAY, sir!
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:39 PM on July 4, 2012


A Bulgarian co-worker recently described another co-worker as someone who "kills all the fish," which I gather is a literal translation of a Bulgarian idiom. I'm still trying to work out exactly what the mental image is supposed to convey. (From context, it seems to mean "continues to ask stupid questions long after the answer should be obvious.")

Sort of like beating a dead horse? It sounds like an awesome phrase.
posted by winna at 5:44 PM on July 4, 2012


Another British English question - the Danish show I'm watching keeps referring to a "removal company" in the English subtitles, but from context it's clear it's what we Americans call a moving company. Is this a poor translation, or do Brits actually call it a removal service/company?

(Just so I'm sure we're talking about the same thing: I'm referring to the people with trucks who move your furniture and other possessions when you change your residence.)
posted by desjardins at 6:18 PM on July 4, 2012


I suppose I should mention that at first I thought chuffed meant pissed (angry).

Wait, wait. You mean it doesn't?
posted by SLC Mom at 6:20 PM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Another British English question - the Danish show I'm watching keeps referring to a "removal company" in the English subtitles, but from context it's clear it's what we Americans call a moving company. Is this a poor translation, or do Brits actually call it a removal service/company?

Yup, though both work.
posted by Artw at 6:33 PM on July 4, 2012


I said GOOD DAY, sir!
posted by ricochet biscuit


Stop putting on airs, everyone knows the name on your driver's license is really 'bouncy cookie'.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:08 PM on July 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


Odiv: it's an esaternseaboardism.
posted by jonmc at 7:26 PM on July 4, 2012


Chuffed = pleased
Pissed = drunk
Pissed off = angry
posted by goshling at 7:40 PM on July 4, 2012


In university I had an American friend who would use "Fuckin' A!" as a negative

Oh yeah. It mostly is, but not exclusively. IT's big in the Southeastern US and Midatlantic, less so in the upper Northeast. I still say it all the time if I've done something like left my keys somewhere: when I realize it, "Awww, fuckin' A!" It's akin to "Goddammit."

But it can also be a big positive. "I just got into college!" "Fuckin' A dude!" *high five*
posted by Miko at 8:02 PM on July 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Pissed on = angry at a drunk
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:07 PM on July 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


"scaredy cat from Ballarat "

I only remember that as the "copy cat from Ballarat". Often followed with a great deal of "I know you are, but what am I?"
posted by goshling at 8:34 PM on July 4, 2012


In university I had an American friend who would ... say a sports team was "sucking it up" if they were doing poorly. It drove me up the wall.

That's...unusual. In all versions of American English I'm familiar with, "suck it up" just means "deal with it" (in a sort of "tough love" sense) but maybe your friend was being liberal with "stinking it up" or straight-up "sucking" for effect.
posted by psoas at 8:40 PM on July 4, 2012


I hear people say "sucking it up" all the time. I think it's just "fucking it up" with a rhyming word that you can say in public. You'd say, like, "Ack! I am sucking it up over here!" when you were epically failing at a particular task. But fucking it up is when you ruin it, while sucking it up implies successfully performing the task, buy in a really sucky fashion.

And yes, suck it up still means "cope with it," and yes, sometimes "sucking it up" can create confusion because its not clear which meaning you're after and a bad day could require either.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:57 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was up in Vancouver last year and found that the locals were unaware of the second meaning of "grouse". Among other things the site I was visiting had a "Grouse" conference room, which I found somewhat apt. I thought they should have named the rest of them "Moan", "Whine", "Bitch", "Complain", etc.

In (older) Australian slang, grouse also means bonza, or beaut. (Very, very good.)
posted by goshling at 9:05 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Like "rubber" for condom - the "proper" meaning of a rubber being a pencil eraser.

No. Americans never call an eraser a "rubber".

Rubber is the bouncy stuff you make tires and rain boots out of. Or, in slang use, it's a condom.

An eraser is just an eraser. In American English, it is never ever ever ever called a rubber. Ever.

Re "sucking it up". Where in the US are people hearing this? Never heard it in my life. Makes no sense. Also, "Fuckin' A" in my world is always positive, never negative. I'm not sure whether I assumed this, a middle school friend did, or it's true/common wisdom, but I always thought it stood for Fucking Awesome, or maybe Fucking Amazing. I first heard it as a negative when I moved to the north. I still think it's weird and wrong. That said, I almost never even think to use "Fuckin' A" at all, for anything. Not being a member of the cast of Grease.
posted by Sara C. at 9:16 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think that Andraste was claiming that Americans use the word rubber to mean eraser, I think she was using it as another example to show what while we may laugh at many instances of the "root" due to its slang meaning, we can still use it seriously in other contexts. In the same way, we might sometimes giggle at the double entendre of the word rubber.
posted by goshling at 9:33 PM on July 4, 2012


Yeah, sorry I wasn't clear - I meant that what you call an eraser, we in Australia have always called a rubber, but then it took on the additional slang meaning of condom, leading to many classroom double entendres. I know you don't call them rubbers in the US.
posted by andraste at 9:52 PM on July 4, 2012


That is, I know that you don't call erasers rubbers in the US.
posted by andraste at 9:53 PM on July 4, 2012


Eraser? I hardly know her!
posted by villanelles at dawn at 10:11 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


In my defense fourth of july
posted by villanelles at dawn at 10:11 PM on July 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


desjardins: They're definitely sometimes called "removal companies". I've never heard "removal service" in the UK.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 10:38 PM on July 4, 2012


In American English, it is never ever ever ever called a rubber. Ever.

In non-American English, people are sometimes referring to things which aren't American English.
posted by pompomtom at 10:42 PM on July 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


The hospital where I work calls their ambulatory clinics "day care". "Pregnancy Day Care." What? Do you keep the kids just for the nine months, or what? And why do the doctors keep getting paged to go there?
posted by gingerest at 11:16 PM on July 4, 2012


I'm glad we've sorted out this whole 'rubber' thing. Now you can Brits and Aussies can better understand why, when I was a child, we all had to wear our rubbers to school on rainy days!
posted by Goofyy at 1:00 AM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why is "root" funny? Is it sex?

Aye. A friend visiting me from overseas recently was continually amused by the vans you can see around town bearing the name and logo of the Rapid-Rooter, Roto-Rooter, or Instant Rooter companies, and their promises to come to your house within 45 minutes and give complete satisfaction, etc.
posted by hattifattener at 1:37 AM on July 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


There are a few cases where two terms are both current in Britspeak (and always have been) but it seems only one of the two is known or usual in USspeak: truck/lorry, mail/post, can/tin. Are there similar cases in reverse, ie where USspeak has two words only one of which is usual for brits?
posted by Segundus at 1:37 AM on July 5, 2012


Recently I've noticed a phrase that's new to me: "different than". I have enough trouble remembering whether I should use "different from" or "different to", let alone a third option. Fortunately, "different than" is intensely irritating to me, so it's definitely different from* the other two.

My first comedy moment with American / UK confusion is when I visited friends in America and someone complemented me on my pants. I did indeed check to see if my boxer shorts were showing.

*languagehat: Thank you for linking to the Economist Style Guide. That was my reference for ages, but it's been offline for about a year. I am very happy that it's finally back online.
posted by milkb0at at 2:41 AM on July 5, 2012


When I first started dating my now husband, I once made the mistake of asking him for "a ride" which sent him and his friends into a fit of juvenile giggling. Ever since then I have been very careful to only ask for "a lift".
posted by like_neon at 3:06 AM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's not just the words, but the pronunciation. My (Canadian) wife rolls her Rs, I dont', which led to a spectacular piece of confusion when we first met. I was trying to tell her that I'd hurt my elbow, but the way I said 'Arm' sounded like 'Um' to her. And scene:

ME
I've hurt my arm.

HER
Your what?

ME
My arm.

HER
Your, um, what?

ME
My ARM.

HER
Your WHAT?

Ad infinitum.

In an attempt to overcompensate, I sometimes end up rolling Rs in words that don't have them, which makes everyone laugh at me. Ho hum.
posted by unSane at 4:14 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sick also means good.
In case you were bear confused.
posted by zoo at 4:26 AM on July 5, 2012


Which is to say:

Just wait til this next generation of Brit yoof hits metafilter. If you think you've worked it out, you're in for a suprise.
posted by zoo at 4:28 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think someone upthread was correct when they said its the everyday words, not the slang, that trip people up. My favourite example is this thread, in which there is mass confusion from us U.S. folk over the term "marinara mix".
posted by mosessis at 5:25 AM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Which is to say:

Just wait til this next generation of Brit yoof hits metafilter. If you think you've worked it out, you're in for a suprise.


Allow it, blud.
posted by Artw at 5:29 AM on July 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


unSane, do you mean she rolls her r's, like they do in Spanish, or is it that she pronounces her r's, whereas you're non-rhotic? I tend to think of the Scots as the only native English speakers who roll their r's. Does rolling r's have a different meaning in non-rhotic areas?

Australians only tend to pronounce an r where there isn't one, so miner becomes "minah" while Canada becomes "Canadar". It was great when the South African super rugby team came to town. I asked who we were playing that weekend and was told "the Cheetahs from South Africa". Well, yes, I understand you think the saffers are dirty players, but what's their team name?
posted by mosessis at 5:38 AM on July 5, 2012


Yeah I mean she pronounces her Rs.
posted by unSane at 5:54 AM on July 5, 2012


Are there similar cases in reverse, ie where USspeak has two words only one of which is usual for brits?

It seems to me like we tend to have innumerable synonyms for certain things (like soda), but I can't offhand think of a two/one equivalent that matches only a single British word.
posted by Miko at 6:35 AM on July 5, 2012


So in the end you knew your Rs from your elbow?
posted by AD_ at 7:13 AM on July 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


In case you were bear confused.

It's 'bare', not 'bear', fam.
posted by jack_mo at 8:01 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I probably should've said 'mang' not 'fam' there. Sorry, I am old.
posted by jack_mo at 8:03 AM on July 5, 2012


Just wait til this next generation of Brit yoof hits metafilter. If you think you've worked it out, you're in for a suprise.

Jokes.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:21 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I recently ran into a phrase that is apparently common but that I'd never heard of: "an evergreen issue". I think it means an issue that keeps coming up or staying around (like leaves on an evergreen tree I guess?). Interestingly, searching for the phrase turned up pretty much nothing other than uses of the phrase -- I didn't find any entries online attempting to explain the phrase, even though it comes up here and there.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:26 AM on July 5, 2012


I've seen "evergreen" used in corporate environments quite a lot, to refer to perpetual things.
posted by zarq at 8:33 AM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well weapon.
posted by Artw at 8:36 AM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


OED has "evergreen" itself as figurative ("Always fresh, never-failing.") from 1871, citing an issue of The Echo:
"One could not help being struck with the evergreen good humour of the French."
I've encountered it enough in the past that it's totally familiar and unremarkable to me as a figurative usage. But I also grew up in the Northwestern US, so I'm also pretty overexposed to literal evergreens.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:37 AM on July 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


KokuRyu: "This happens whenever a British person misspells curb, color, truck, tc.

The only thing that redeems you from your misguided and somewhat chauvinistic misconception of proper spelling is the fact that, by all, accounts, Noah Webster was a Rousseauian mensch.
"

There really is no proper spelling. The words were mostly spelled ending in -or in the UK until the Norman conquest, when they changed to -our, then back to -or after the Renaissance. When spelling finally became more formalized starting in the 18th century, Johnson chose the -our spelling to reflect English's debt to French for many of its words, while Webster was an advocate of spelling reform and changed it to -or.

Neither spelling is correct, they are simply reflections of mostly determinations based on politics and/or personal taste, no different than the false fewer/less dichotomy.

Maybe the worst "We're right and you're wrong" Britishism is the pronunciation of the word "herb" (as Eddie Izzard says, "because there's an aitch there") when of course no British person I know pronounces the h in hour, hono[u]r, honest, or heir.

And yes, the equating of "pants" for "trousers" in the US has led, in my experience, to some confusing exchanges (although not necessarily on this site). In the opposite direction, it seems that in the UK, a shirt means specifically something with a collar and buttons whereas in the US it means any kind of normal non-blouse thing you'd put on your upper half for covering rather than warm (i.e. not sweaters/vests or hoodies, but t-shirts, turtlenecks, henleys, etc. all count as shirts). Which lead to this great statement in the UK, which I fortunately understood: "I quite like a girl in a shirt." Which, if said in the US, is about as specific as saying, "I like my women as carbon-based lifeforms."
posted by Deathalicious at 8:40 AM on July 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I sometimes end up rolling Rs in words that don't have them

So basically every day is a pirate party in your house.
posted by elizardbits at 8:41 AM on July 5, 2012


None of the above can compare to my surprise at being invited to go cottaging by an innocent and generous Ontarian.

My (childish) friends and I were in a scottish town that had a "Cottage Inn" that was around the corner from our hotel. It was about a month after the George Michael saga (one of - late 90's I guess it must have been). So when we saw that, cue lots of cries of "Well, we'll give that place a miss I think".

It's always been my impression/deduction that it's the Americans who are most thrown or flustered by seeing unfamiliar expressions here.

Completely agree, and not just here. In my real life interactions in the US, Canada and Europe (with non-English primary speakers) the americans are by far the least likely to hear something they don't get and spend a second or two trying to parse it before being confused. I've had lots of instances where people just look at me (or others I have been with) completely blankly, despite the sentence having enough to go on even if the one word is not well known. Considering the massive regional variation of slang and accents it is bizarre to me that a lot of americans I spoke to or have been around while non-US people spoke there was a surprising amount of 'Don't know that word - sentence has failed' rather than any attempt to make a guess based on context. From the outside, I had assumed that they'd be used to encountering enough variety in every day life that some sort of interpretation was common, but apparently not.
posted by Brockles at 8:42 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just thought I would mention the Dictionary of Regional American English. 100 Sample Entries. Great resource.
posted by mlis at 8:47 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


For extra confusion on what is good or bad, when T9 texting came out in the UK, fairly quickly after that 'Book' became know for something that was good or fashionable. Why? Because it was the first thing that T9 came up with when you typed 'Cool' and it presumably happened accidentally (or lazily-ly?) enough that it just stuck.

Cue kids saying to each other "Wow, that's book, mate".

Personally, I suspect it coincided with when calling things 'cool' was becoming outdated and before 'awesome' trudged its way across the pond.
posted by Brockles at 8:50 AM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


it is bizarre to me that a lot of americans I spoke to or have been around while non-US people spoke there was a surprising amount of 'Don't know that word - sentence has failed' rather than any attempt to make a guess based on context.

I suggest more better sentencing on your part.
posted by ericost at 8:54 AM on July 5, 2012


Deathalicious: "Which, if said in the US, is about as specific as saying, "I like my women as carbon-based lifeforms.""

It's those Horta babes you gotta watch out for.
posted by zarq at 8:55 AM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Online Etymology Dictionary also has "evergreen" in the "figurative sense" going back at least to 1871. This East-Coaster also finds it common and unremarkable, as does Barbra.

But I think it would be easy to find "evergreen" in this sense going back a lot farther than 1871 if one undertook a protracted search. For instance, there is a church-related publication from the 1840s titled "The Evergreen: A Present For All Seasons," and that seemed to be published annually for a while. There's this 1818 poem that praises "evergreen" hearts, and we've got an "evergreen sentiment" referred to in this 1846 book.
posted by Miko at 9:02 AM on July 5, 2012


Re "sucking it up". Where in the US are people hearing this? Never heard it in my life.

It's pretty common here in New York, at least....

Okay, can someone please explain this "down to me/us" thing? Context is giving me no help at all.

I'm assuming "down to me/us" = "UP TO me/us". Right?

In conclusion: this former New Englander has over time trained all her friends to understand what the hell she's talking about when she refers to a package store.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:03 AM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Recently I've noticed a phrase that's new to me: "different than". I have enough trouble remembering whether I should use "different from" or "different to", let alone a third option.

If it's any consolation, the American unfamiliarity with "different to" is exactly parallel. "Different from" is, as I understand it, the "standard English" formation everywhere but we get it wrong in different (US vs UK) ways.
posted by psoas at 9:05 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just don't call it a Packie unless you want even more trouble.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:08 AM on July 5, 2012


Just don't call it a Packie unless you want even more trouble.

Fortunately I'm in New York, so the reaction was always more like "why are you trying to shop for bourbon at FedEx?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:11 AM on July 5, 2012


I'm in New York and have never heard it. Are you talking about, like, upstate? They talk funny.
posted by Sara C. at 9:23 AM on July 5, 2012


No - I was riffing off Cortex's "packie" joke (which I assume was in reference to a common slang term for "person from Pakistan").

"Package store" is a New Englandism which I brought to New York with me, to the confusion and consternation of my friends here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:27 AM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


...in reference to a common BRITISH slang term, that is.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:29 AM on July 5, 2012


I think it's worse than slang, I think it's equivalent to the n-word.
posted by desjardins at 9:34 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Forget it, I'm going to the package store for some tonic.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:44 AM on July 5, 2012


Just don't call it a Packie unless you want even more trouble.

Learned that the hard way at Sportsfilter. But it led to me finding out what "chuffin" means.
posted by yerfatma at 9:46 AM on July 5, 2012


Just don't call it a Packie unless you want even more trouble.

Sooo used to this, I still say it.
posted by Miko at 10:16 AM on July 5, 2012


I heard packie around Boston. Problem is, with that accent, I was trying to figure out if it was really "parkie" or "packie." (Fun fact: Senator Lieberman's dad ran a packie, which he danced around in his moralistic pro-business speeches.)
posted by msalt at 10:16 AM on July 5, 2012


My very specific confusion with the word came from heading over to Worcester, MA for college from Portland, OR, unfamiliar entirely with the British usage as well as the New England usage but having grown up with the star of our local zoo being a big old Asian elephant named Packy.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:31 AM on July 5, 2012


"evergreen" is also journalist's jargon for a story that can run at anytime to fill holes in the paper/magazine.
posted by Diablevert at 11:23 AM on July 5, 2012


I had never heard of "cottaging" before. And I had no idea that public restrooms/rest stops in Britain were called "cottages." Learn something new every day.

So for a long time I've been trying to figure out what a "plonking" voice or manner would sound like (after first encountering Stephen Potter's usage). So I looked up "plonking"...and found Urban Dictionary's definition. Search and learn at your own peril, then make sure you don't splash your clothes with all the brain bleach you'll need.
posted by tully_monster at 11:26 AM on July 5, 2012


There are a few cases where two terms are both current in Britspeak (and always have been) but it seems only one of the two is known or usual in USspeak: truck/lorry, mail/post, can/tin. Are there similar cases in reverse, ie where USspeak has two words only one of which is usual for brits?

I'm not 100% on this, but what about "jumper"? I have seen that used in American English --- it's a little old fashioned and 50s-ish, and I would say definitely has a women's wear connotation. But like 95% of the time we'd say sweater, instead, which is unisex.
posted by Diablevert at 11:28 AM on July 5, 2012


Just don't call it a Packie unless you want even more trouble.

This has been a hard one for me to try to unlearn at least in anything but "everyone here has known me since we were six" company. I have the same problem with written language where my family used the word "gook" which rhymes with book and means "A slightly sticker form of glop" and is fine in spoken English and prone to being problematic in written English because it's significantly less common in its non-racist meaning in the US at least. Don't know about it in the UK.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:33 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the US a jumper is a dress designed to be worn with a blouse underneath. They're most commonly associated with little girls' parochial school uniforms and have a childish connotation.

My understanding is that in the UK a jumper is always what we would call a sweater -- a warm knitted outer garment.
posted by Sara C. at 11:36 AM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


You'd probably get away with packie spelled like that, you just wouldn't want to say it. And yeah, if you drop the "c" you're in highly offensive racial slur territory.
posted by Artw at 11:43 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm saying I've heard it used for a sweater as well in the US. And Michael Quinion backs me up, so this is me sticking out the metaphorical tongue of etymological victory. Huzzah!

I'd agree that a Catholic schoolgirl uniform is definitely a jumper --- like, that is pretty much the only term for that garment. I'm just saying that I've heard it used to describe sweaters as well.

Though now I am beginning to worry that it may have been my Irish-born grandmother who used it that way.
posted by Diablevert at 11:44 AM on July 5, 2012


The link implies that Brits sometimes use "sweater", and that "sweater" is gradually replacing "pullover" there*. Not that Americans sometimes say "jumper" to mean "sweater".

Some Americans must use jumper sometimes, the same way that some Americans say "shite" and "cheers" and other Britishisms. But I've never heard any American English speakers use it in an un-self-conscious non-anglophilic way.

Then again, I'm still insisting that "sucking it up" is not a thing, despite someone else who says it's used in my own city.

*If that's the case, is a cardigan a sweater in the UK?
posted by Sara C. at 11:58 AM on July 5, 2012


I had never heard of "cottaging" before. And I had no idea that public restrooms/rest stops in Britain were called "cottages." Learn something new every day.

It's not an everyday term, but originally gay / Polari slang... that's kind become slightly mainstream (but not as mainstream as other borrowed words like naff). Remember watching a really good documentary about Polari and how it's changed over the years. Cottaging comes from the fact that there are public toilets* in parks in London and elsewhere that actually look kinda like little houses/cottages.

*You can write whole essays on British slang words for toilet and how it relates to what class you are.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:04 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


is a cardigan a sweater in the UK?

No it's a 'cardie' ... and I hardly ever say sweater, mostly jumper or occasionally pull-over

Oh you can use 'wooly' for a cardigan and/or jumper
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:08 PM on July 5, 2012


I believe he's talking about American English with the pullover thing, Sara C. (do Brits use the word pullover?) The bit that backs me up is this:

"The word [jumper] has evolved differently in Britain and the US; British usage has moved towards a garment that is specifically woollen, the US towards any upper-body garment for women. "
posted by Diablevert at 12:08 PM on July 5, 2012


cottaging : verb, British :: tearoom : noun, American?
posted by Sara C. at 12:09 PM on July 5, 2012


Oh, huh, I thought pullover was strictly a British thing.

I don't think I've ever heard it used here except in really technical contexts like among knitters or retail sales staff.

Also, I think he's flat out wrong about a jumper being an upper-body garment. It's a dress.

The root might be an upper body sort of word, but for clothing that's meaningless -- the words "shirt" and "skirt" have the same PIE root, for example.
posted by Sara C. at 12:14 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, fearfulsymmetry, that page is fascinating. I'd always known about Cockney, but had never heard of Polari and had no idea that was where so many familiar slang terms originated, especially the transatlantic ones.
posted by tully_monster at 12:34 PM on July 5, 2012


cottaging : verb, British :: tearoom : noun, American?

Roughly. International Gay English probably has more dialects than the language-at-large.

And I really, really hate the term "poof" in that context, Arrested Development be damned.
posted by psoas at 12:40 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


If that's the case, is a cardigan a sweater in the UK?

Cardigan's are Cardigans, but they have a zip or buttons up the front (ie a split).

A Jumper is not specifically wollen. But it is a pullover (ie you pull it over your head to put it on). Wollen jumpers are often referred to as "Wooly Jumpers" (also slang for a sheep in some backwaters).

My wife mocks me mercilessly for using jumper for what she calls a sweater. In the UK, nothing at all dress like is called a jumper that I have ever heard of. So she assumes I am hankering after secretly cross dressing when I am merely cold.
posted by Brockles at 12:47 PM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

No - I was riffing off Cortex's "packie" joke (which I assume was in reference to a common slang term for "person from Pakistan").

"Package store" is a New Englandism which I brought to New York with me, to the confusion and consternation of my friends here.
We have Paki shops in England too...

...seriously, a hear quite a few folk still say that. It's really incredible that they don't realize how offensive it is.

Maybe the worst "We're right and you're wrong" Britishism is the pronunciation of the word "herb" (as Eddie Izzard says, "because there's an aitch there") when of course no British person I know pronounces the h in hour, hono[u]r, honest, or heir.
I'm trying my best never to pronounce an aitch ever again.

It's not just the words, but the pronunciation. My (Canadian) wife rolls her Rs, I dont', which led to a spectacular piece of confusion when we first met. I was trying to tell her that I'd hurt my elbow, but the way I said 'Arm' sounded like 'Um' to her.
The Scottish still pronounce their Rs, and supposedly some very northern English people do too. This is one of the problems with calling the dialect "British". I know loads of folk do it, but it's lazy and makes us forget than the UK has a huge range of accents. When somebody says "Brits say this" it's possibly wrong for any given county, never mind one of the constituent countries. A bread roll in the US is mostly a bap in England, Manchester folk say barm, but everybody local to me says breadcake. I'm sure the same situation applies in the US, but maybe slightly less noticeable.

TLDR: there is no "British" dialect. Not even close.
posted by Jehan at 12:49 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


A bread roll in the US is mostly a bap in England

That's mostly Northern English, or (down south) for the larger, flatter rolls (kind of like a small Stottie). A roll is a roll down south for the most part. Baps, where I grew up, were almost always slang for boobs so while we obviously were aware of the similarity, we didn't actually use the parent term.

"The word [jumper] has evolved differently in Britain and the US; British usage has moved towards a garment that is specifically woollen, the US towards any upper-body garment for women. "

Having read the link, this is from someone that uses the term 'Fishermans smock", so I'd suggest it has little relevance to common usage.
posted by Brockles at 12:53 PM on July 5, 2012


We have Paki shops in England too...

...seriously, a hear quite a few folk still say that. It's really incredible that they don't realize how offensive it is.


I've heard a lot of "Yeah, but I don't mean it like that, but the shop is run by Pakistanis and it's an abbreviation!". Clueless. I'm 40, and when I was a kid the whole 'don't call people Paki's" had got to the stage of when I was 8 or 9 it was universally something you didn't let grown ups hear you say, but some of us did because we thought it 'can't be that bad'. By the time I was 20 I didn't hear anyone that wouldn't suit a skin head, Doc Martens and National Front membership say it.
posted by Brockles at 12:56 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


> The Scottish still pronounce their Rs

Not all of us; anyone from a "pan loaf" area (so Kelvinside, Morningside, Newton Mearns, Milngavie, Bearsden, High Burnside, etc ...) would have dropped most of the rhoticism as a misperceived class thing.
posted by scruss at 1:10 PM on July 5, 2012


Jumper in America= pinafore in Britain (at least in the former African British colonies)
posted by ramix at 2:17 PM on July 5, 2012


I had a Boston-bred coworker who reffered to the water fountain as a 'bubbler,' (which he pronounced 'bubblah' of course). That still in common use?
posted by jonmc at 2:34 PM on July 5, 2012


Yes, and then just to be even more vexing, a pinny is not an adorable dress but a cooking apron.
posted by elizardbits at 2:35 PM on July 5, 2012


Bubbler comes up in Portland but mostly as a historical curiosity, since what we have littered around the downtown area are Benson Bubblers. But I mostly grew up calling them "water fountains" or "drinking fountains".

I think I remember reading that "bubbler" gets some use in the Midwest but an inventory of US regionalisms would be able to say for sure. It's not one of the bits that comes up in the UWM dialect survey, unforunately.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:41 PM on July 5, 2012


a pinny is not an adorable dress but a cooking apron

Or a weird apron-like things in two different bright colors that you have to wear for team sports in gym class.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:41 PM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yep, Midlands here and a pinny is an apron.
posted by arcticseal at 2:43 PM on July 5, 2012


weird apron-like things in two different bright colors that you have to wear for team sports in gym class

Aren't those tabards?
posted by arcticseal at 2:44 PM on July 5, 2012


I went to college with some kids who said "bubbler". It could have been ironic, I guess, but probably not?

They were all from New England.
posted by Sara C. at 2:52 PM on July 5, 2012


A bread roll in the US is mostly a bap in England

Erm, yeah, no. Warwickshire, not a county know for it's dialects, has four different words depending on where you are: roll, cop, bap or batch.

But backing up what Jehan said, I only heard 'wooly' to mean a woollen jumper/cardie for the first time yesterday.
posted by Helga-woo at 3:00 PM on July 5, 2012

That's mostly Northern English, or (down south) for the larger, flatter rolls (kind of like a small Stottie). A roll is a roll down south for the most part. Baps, where I grew up, were almost always slang for boobs so while we obviously were aware of the similarity, we didn't actually use the parent term.

...

Not all of us; anyone from a "pan loaf" area (so Kelvinside, Morningside, Newton Mearns, Milngavie, Bearsden, High Burnside, etc ...) would have dropped most of the rhoticism as a misperceived class thing.

...

Erm, yeah, no. Warwickshire, not a county know for it's dialects, has four different words depending on where you are: roll, cop, bap or batch.
Even though I'm obviously horrifically out of touch with how everybody else speaks, it has at least proven the point. There's four of us from UK, and we can't agree on ote (and if anybody tells you it's "owt", smack em).
posted by Jehan at 3:07 PM on July 5, 2012


Question, does anybody else say ennet for duck? It's something I've only heard very rarely, but it must be common somewhere.
posted by Jehan at 3:07 PM on July 5, 2012


cortex: "My very specific confusion with the word came from heading over to Worcester, MA for college from Portland, OR, unfamiliar entirely with the British usage as well as the New England usage but having grown up with the star of our local zoo being a big old Asian elephant named Packy."

Am I the only one for whom the first meaning of 'packy' that pops in my head is "fake phallus"?

No? Ok then.
posted by FlyingMonkey at 3:30 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Born near Chicago, spend most of my youth in central Indiana, have lived in Cincinnati for about 15 years now and have never heard "bubbler" as a reference to a water fountain.

I feel rather cheated.
posted by cooker girl at 3:34 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Expatriates from the Milwaukee area have informed me that "bubbler" is one of their regionalisms that sets them apart from the rest of the state and universe. However, it was also very much in the context of "here's a funny thing about Milwaukee, now be amazed as we never ever mention it again" so perhaps it is a dead old-timey thing.
posted by Winnemac at 3:38 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, I forgot... Someone mentioned "trainers" somewhere in reference to running and I thought they were talking about people who, you know, train people. Turns out they were talking about shoes.

I felt silly.
posted by patheral at 3:43 PM on July 5, 2012


all mouth and no trousers
That's all mouth AND trousers, not NO. Eliminate the negative!
posted by unliteral at 4:26 PM on July 5, 2012


No, a bubbler is a piece of marijuana paraphernalia.
posted by sacrifix at 4:36 PM on July 5, 2012


Bubbler is MA, RI, and WI specific for water fountain.

Diablevert, whatever that guy said, I have ever seen "jumper" used in the US to describe a women's pullover sweater with sleeves, ever. I have seen it used to describe a woman's pullover knitted vest/waistcoat, but presumably that's because of its pinafore-like nature, not its sweater nature.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:42 PM on July 5, 2012


We called them bubblers when I was at school in Australia, I think it's the common term there.
posted by jacalata at 4:44 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


And I always say "bubbler" (and "grinder" to refer to sandwiches on a long roll); I think they're both still preferred usages here in MA.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:44 PM on July 5, 2012


I say grinder. Is grinder really that regional?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:50 PM on July 5, 2012


Grind [very NSFW] is a fantastic video.
posted by unliteral at 4:56 PM on July 5, 2012


It's a submarine (sub) sandwich in central Canada. I assume because it's an elongated ovoid.

Again in central Canada in the 1970s, a jumper was a girl's pinafore-style dress. (We had them as our school uniform until we reached grade 6, when we wore kilts in the blindingly ghastly Alberta tartan.)
posted by gingerest at 5:00 PM on July 5, 2012


I say grinder. Is grinder really that regional?

Oh, completely. Thought it was the most bizarre thing ever when I first heard it in college. South of CT you will never hear this.
posted by Miko at 5:16 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


> I say grinder. Is grinder really that regional?

Yes. I learned it in New Haven and then had to unlearn it when I moved.
posted by languagehat at 5:17 PM on July 5, 2012


w/r/t "bubbler," that was new on me, too. It was "Water fountain" in NJ and a "water cooler" in TX. I suspect that "water cooler" really only referred to the stainless steel units that did actually dispense cool water, as opposed to the fountains that didn't.
posted by Miko at 5:17 PM on July 5, 2012


Yeah, "grinder" is another New England thing; I grew up calling them that.

"Jimmies/sprinkles" is also really regional - I think the "jimmies/sprinkles" line is somewhere around Rhode Island, because my brother and I called them "sprinkles" in Connecticut, but whenever we went to visit Grandpa on Cape Cod we had to re-learn to call them "jimmies" otherwise he wouldn't know what the hell we were talking about when we went for ice cream.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:30 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I say grinder. Is grinder really that regional?"

What people call those kinds of sandwiches is very regional in the US. I mean, lots of things are; but there are several different terms and where each is used, they're used almost or completely exclusively.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:21 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


To be fair, there are also culinary differences in the sandwiches. Though they are overwhelmingly similar (Italian-style cold cuts on a long white-bread roll), the different names also conjure slight differences in preparation.
posted by Miko at 7:15 PM on July 5, 2012


Heroes or subs in NYC. Depending on the contents. Definitely not a grinder.

Sprinkles in NYC. Jimmies in RI and Boston. My wife learned to say Jimmies while she was living in Boston, and then had to unlearn it when she moved to NY. (The guy behind the counter at Carvel made her point to what she wanted. :D)
posted by zarq at 7:17 PM on July 5, 2012


Also, it's not really a regional dialect thing, but nothing beats my Argentine sister-in-law's reaction to a street name she saw in Westchester:

"Tall... Penis. Tall Penis? No? No! Tall Penis! Come se dice pija? Yes! That street. Right there, that street! It is called Tall Penis!"

*giggles madly*


We almost didn't have the heart to explain to her that Tall Pines Road wasn't what she thought it was.
posted by zarq at 7:25 PM on July 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


My childhood friend and I started calling sprinkles/jimmies "Johnnies" for a reason that has long escaped me. This was all fine and well until I was ordering ice cream one day with my soon-to-be husband and I asked the guy behind the counter for chocolate Johnnies. It took me a minute to notice they were both staring at me like I had sprouted horns. So I said it again. "Chocolate Johnnies, please." My fiancee said, "Um, what are Johnnies?"

Our children now call them Johnnies and when they find the person who can laugh with them about it when the guy behind the ice cream counter rolls his eyes, I hope they realize they've got a catch.
posted by cooker girl at 7:29 PM on July 5, 2012


Grinder, hero, hoagie, sub, po' boy...I can't remember any others...
posted by jonmc at 7:34 PM on July 5, 2012


Johnnies
posted by unliteral at 7:35 PM on July 5, 2012


I'm in Milwaukee. Bubbler is definitely still a thing, although since everyone carries bottled water nowadays, no one's looking for one anymore.

Another regionalism: the TYME machine. I've slowly trained myself to stop saying it, but it's taken 20 years.
posted by desjardins at 7:46 PM on July 5, 2012


Re "sucking it up". Where in the US are people hearing this? Never heard it in my life.

Pretty common; don't think of it as a use of the phrase "to suck it up" (when something bad happens and you have to just deal with it and move on). It's part of the construction "to ____ it up", which is to stress how much "______" was being done. If someone was dancing, they might be "dancing it up", partygoers might be "partying it up". Not an expression exactly, more like an idiomatic construction.
posted by spaltavian at 9:44 PM on July 5, 2012


With all these examples, it's a wonder that we're able to communicate at all.
posted by milkb0at at 12:07 AM on July 6, 2012


What about dialect differences which are unlikely to stump the listener, just give them a subtly wrong meaning? I'm thinking of the difference in which floor is the "first floor" of a building, but there are probably others...
posted by hattifattener at 12:10 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


>>weird apron-like things in two different bright colors that you have to wear ...
>Aren't those tabards?


Only if you join a guild.
posted by msalt at 12:15 AM on July 6, 2012


What about dialect differences which are unlikely to stump the listener, just give them a subtly wrong meaning?

You mean like ordering a beer in America and getting Bud?
posted by unSane at 5:23 AM on July 6, 2012


Turning up to a wedding in a vest has entirely different connotations in the UK and US, also. And in the US a sports coat probably isn't going to be made by Adidas. Turning up in pumps may raise some eyebrows too.

"He was dressed in pumps, a vest, a jumper and some old pants" produces completely different mental images in the US and UK.
posted by unSane at 5:48 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nobody orders "a beer" in the US, not even (shudder) Bud drinkers.
That's a Hollywood conceit.
Even (maybe even 'especially') people who drink standard American lagers tend to be very brand specific about the beer they drink.
The rest of us would be left randomly receiving any one of a thousand styles of beer. Not exactly refreshing on a hot day.

Though, that makes me think of another linguistic difference.
In the US, bitter is never used as the name for a style of beer.
If you ask after that style, you are more likely to get a confused look from a bartender who thinks you are asking about bitters.

(Of course, my generalization is limited to a very few regions of the US, and is therefore easily refutable. Also, My family, until recently, went back many generations in NYC and never used the words grinder and hoagie. I have been called out on this before, but I would bet that there is some neighborhood or familial variation in the use of those words)
posted by Seamus at 6:20 AM on July 6, 2012


You mean like ordering a beer in America and getting Bud?

Or ordering rum in Australia and getting Bundy.
posted by mosessis at 6:21 AM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


unSane: "You mean like ordering a beer in America and getting Bud?"

The bartender would look at me, look behind him/her at the twenty different taps of beer and the coolers with 300 different bottles and then say "could you be a little more specific?"
posted by octothorpe at 7:04 AM on July 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Grinder and Hoagie are definitely not NYC-area words. Well, maybe in some parts of NJ and CT, but I've never heard it in the city or in the closer outlying areas. It's a hero or a sub, here. In my understanding it's a sub if you're talking about a discrete type of sandwich, but when you're in a deli ordering said sandwich, you will say, "I'll have turkey and cheddar with lettuce, tomato, and a little mustard on a hero." Which results in you getting a sub type sandwich. If you order the same on another type of bread, then it will not be a sub but just a regular sandwich.

Then again, I'm sure people must refer to the sandwich itself as a hero, sometimes, somewhere.

Also, WTF IS BITTER???? Even as a beer connoisseur I'm not entirely sure what that refers to. Maybe it's just not a popular style in the US? Maybe it's called something else here?
posted by Sara C. at 7:20 AM on July 6, 2012


WTF IS BITTER???? Even as a beer connoisseur I'm not entirely sure what that refers to.

I'm taking your beer connoisseur badge back. I may even stamp it a little. Bitter is what real beer drinkers call 'Beer'. All this fizzy yellow stuff is for the unwashed masses and is only good for outside drinking when its too hot for proper beer.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitter_(beer)

There are a lot of 'Pale Ale's' (as the Seppo's call it) but they're a pale* imitation of the proper stuff back in Blighty unless you get to the serious craft brewers (some of which make a good stab at it). I thought no US brewers made decent beer until I got stuck in Detroit for a few nights and made a comment to the same effect to the barman. He bristled noticeably. His bar had a lot of local craft brewer stuff on hand and with several samplers and a healthy and robust debate back and forth, schooled me right proper, innit. Hell of a headache the next day, but respect for some of the (non-mass market only) beers in the US. For some reason, the good US beer seems to be in little pockets of availability and not widely available. Sam Adams and the like are weak approximations but very much the Hyundai when you wanted a BMW (I only use that comparison because you don't seem to have Daewoo over here, which is more accurate than Hyundai, which are getting a bit too good to use).


*See what I did there?
posted by Brockles at 7:50 AM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I'll have turkey and cheddar with lettuce, tomato, and a little mustard on a hero."

That is the stupidest name for a sandwich, fo reels. I'd expect them to hand over Superman covered in sandwich filling if I heard that. Grinder is not much better, frankly, and there is a gay cruising app that has had much press in England (Stephen Fry touts it as an amusing distraction) that will cause some confusion if there is a cultural offset when it is ordered.

I don't even really understand Sub either. Why can't people call it a fucking sandwich? Why do you have to have so many completely confusing words with no discernible meaning without direct context?
posted by Brockles at 7:54 AM on July 6, 2012


I don't even really understand Sub either. Why can't people call it a fucking sandwich?

Because this kind of bread is different this kind of bread, and that makes the sandwiches different.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:59 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The thing the confused me most, as a British kid reading American YA books, was 'pickup truck'. I could not for the life of me work out why so many people in America drove forklifts.

also someone once told me that 'smh' means 'suck my hole' and now CANNOT UNSEE
posted by corvine at 8:15 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


a hear quite a few folk still say that. It's really incredible that they don't realize how offensive it is.

The people on Top Gear use the work Nick for Steal all the time which kind of blows me away as I had thought was in some way offensive WRT the Irish. A quick look around the net though doesn't seem to back that up. I can't find it on any slur lists.

Anyone else think Nick is an ethnically loaded word? Or is this just some crazy thing an elementary school teacher stuck in my brain. 'Cause if it isn't it'll make my day, I love the way nick flows into a sentence and I'd use it all the time if it wasn't being insensitive.

I don't even really understand Sub either. Why can't people call it a fucking sandwich?

It's cooking technical jargon that's become main stream. To me at least a sandwich is consists of filling between slices of bread. Once it's inside a sliced bun it's something different depending on the properties of the bun. I wouldn't call a pita pocket a sandwich either.
posted by Mitheral at 8:26 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The people on Top Gear use the work Nick for Steal all the time which kind of blows me away as I had thought was in some way offensive WRT the Irish. A quick look around the net though doesn't seem to back that up. I can't find it on any slur lists.

That's because "MICK", with an "m," is the word that's the slur for Irish person. "Nick" is indeed a common slang term for "steal" and no association with Irish personages is intended thereby.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:29 AM on July 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, it's 'mick'. You can be nicked and put in the nick if you've been out nicking stuff and it's totally fine.
posted by corvine at 8:32 AM on July 6, 2012


Grinder is not much better, frankly, and there is a gay cruising app that has had much press in England (Stephen Fry touts it as an amusing distraction) that will cause some confusion if there is a cultural offset when it is ordered.

We have Grindr in the US as well.
posted by sweetkid at 8:43 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


For some reason, the good US beer seems to be in little pockets of availability and not widely available.

Wow, you are SO wrong.
It isn't little pockets of availability, they're called regional beers.
Hell, you can get well made local craft beers in Oklahoma.
Yeah, most Western brewers in the US tend to over-hop in my opinion, but that's just my opinion. (It's also my opinion that Limeys [I mean . . . if we're gonna start using 'Seppo' as a regular thing here, maybe we should go back to some tried and true epithets] defending their beer is like Americans defending Wonder Bread. Yeah it has it's place [on a piece of butcher paper next to some barbecue] but otherwise, it ain't all that distinguished.)

I'm kidding. I am aware of CAMRA and the existence of regional style in Britain. And good on ya for it. The US is still trying to overcome the after-effects of prohibition when it comes to our beer styles. We lost a lot in that little experiment in absurdity. But the last 30 years have been a boom time. You can hardly enter a town over 30,000 people without finding at least one brewpub. Quality can be iffy, but you gotta give them props for trying. Another misconception that a lot of our brothers across the pond seem to have is that American culture is some kind of branch off of British culture. Yes, in part. But there were a shit ton of German and other European and Non-European influences. If you look at our regional beers from before Prohibition and you will see a lot of lagers. When you add that diversity of styles to the indigenous and available ingredients, you are going to find beer that differs from any other country's standards. Come on by my house next week and you can drink some yerba-mate-mixed-berry-small-mead, some of our house brown ale and pulls of whiskey off the bottle while you help me brew some persimmon black ale. We'll argue beer for a while, eat a good meal and then probably get into a fist fight, but, you know . . . for fun.

(And because I drank too much caffeine today and cannot finish a coherent thought and must ramble, my NYC family NEVER used "hero". There were subs, wedges and sandwiches depending on the bread being used. Though sandwich was an overarching category that included anything stuffed inside of precooked bread product. I live in Austin now and since the closure of the Ba Le, it is impossible to get a good loaf of bread here, so I eat tacos. Tacos are a type of sandwich. And I will fight you over that definition!)
posted by Seamus at 9:34 AM on July 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


For some reason, the good US beer seems to be in little pockets of availability and not widely available.

There's a lot of regionality here and a lot of places in the US where you can find tasty, interesting beer varieties. The worst case scenario is still often just Bud vs. Coors, but even when I'm in the middle of nowhere these days it seems like there's at least a couple not-so-macro beers.

But as far as the general proliferation of American macrobrew pilsners, I think historically that's a reflection in part of the weird taste-resetting that happened in the US beer market because of the Prohibition era. Something like this:

- Prohibition happens
- beer distribution become illegal
- beer companies want to not crumple
- beer companies distribute homebrew materials legally
- those homebrew recipes are very simple affairs
- American beer-drinking public spends several years getting accustomed to that as beer
- Prohibition lifts
- beer companies start distributing beer that's like the beer folks have been making at home

So maybe if things had gone different back in the 30s, the mainstream American beer would be a different beast. But the beer situation in general in the US is actually pretty great in most places if you go by anything other than who is advertising on television.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:55 AM on July 6, 2012


It isn't little pockets of availability, they're called regional beers.

To an outsider, that is little pockets of availability. And you have to hunt them out - when I am travelling, I rarely get to go to bars, but do get to go to restaurants. There are no widely available decent non-lager beers in the US that aren't imported (Basically, Guinness is about it).

So to anyone passing through, there ain't no decent beers. You have to hunt for them, or chance upon a decent bar that caters to a more local requirement for beer. Rise up, american beer drinkers, and sort that shit out!
posted by Brockles at 9:59 AM on July 6, 2012


Oh, Newcastle Brown Ale is surprisingly widely available, now I think about it.
posted by Brockles at 10:00 AM on July 6, 2012


> I don't even really understand Sub either. Why can't people call it a fucking sandwich? Why do you have to have so many completely confusing words with no discernible meaning without direct context?

Yeah! It's all just food, so fucking call it food! Bread, sandwich, ham, rutabaga—quit using all these confusing bullshit terms! Nobody even knows waht they mean!!
posted by languagehat at 10:01 AM on July 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Rise up, american beer drinkers, and sort that shit out!

1. Yelp or whatever for places that mention a decent beer list.
2. Go to a grocery store or convenience store or liquor store (this depends on the state) and go nuts.

I'm sure there are one or another exceptional beer-hating cities in the US that buck this, but generally speaking in any decent-sized metro area you can find all kinds of beer by just going to where beer is sold, often including stuff brewed in that state or even that city. And I've been in a whole lot of small towns that have a decent selection as well.

I sympathize with the bad beer luck you've had to date but it sounds like bad luck indeed. You may be going to the wrong restaurants.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:06 AM on July 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


So to anyone passing through, there ain't no decent beers. You have to hunt for them, or chance upon a decent bar that caters to a more local requirement for beer. Rise up, american beer drinkers, and sort that shit out!

No way, you're just doing it wrong!
I travel for business, on occasion. When ordering a beer in a restaurant, the first thing you do is ask if they have any locals. There are plenty of non-Pale-American-Lager style beers that are readily available. Yeah, some of them are imports, some them are mass produced and mediocre, but if it's that or a Budweiser product . . .
Maybe I'm just going to the wrong restaurants.
Most decent, locally owned restaurants really, really want to sell locally produced beers.
If you go to a national chain catering to the low-comm-denom, you get BudMillerCoors and maybe some swill like Stella.

And "lager" refers to the type of yeast used to ferment, so there are many styles of lager around here. Black Lagers have become particularly popular for some reason around here. This is a good thing.
posted by Seamus at 10:08 AM on July 6, 2012


To me, it's the same as subdividing by internal content, rather than wrapping but using non-logical names. So you'd have :

Gumblebut Sub (ham), Gumblebut Grinder, Gumblebut Sandwich

Trickle Sub (beef)

Goobledump Sub (chicken)

Cluckysub (turkey, switched just to fuck with the foreigners, see).

Back home, they're all called sandwiches, but you specify the bread (as a choice is available). So you can have a Ham and Cheese Sandwich on a Baguette, Roll, Bread (sliced), Pita, Naan etc. It's building a composite meal with names for the individual parts, which seems much more reasonable to me.

So a Sandwich shop, a selection of various breads will be available, just as the various fillings are. I miss the variety of english sandwich shops (not the chain ones so much, the town centre single store ones. Great bread, good filling selection etc).
posted by Brockles at 10:10 AM on July 6, 2012


generally speaking in any decent-sized metro area you can find all kinds of beer by just going to where beer is sold

That's part of the issue, I suspect. Most race tracks (which dictates my travelling) are usually in buttfuck nowhere. Or, at least, the budget hotels within reasonable driving distance of the track that we stay in are. We rarely stay in big metro areas.

Honestly, that Detroit bar was kind of a revelation to me. Part of the discussion with the bartender was "I've been here for 5 years, why the fuck am I only finding out about this now? Why is this a secret?".
posted by Brockles at 10:14 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Back home, they're all called sandwiches, but you specify the bread (as a choice is available)

Except when its a butty, of course.
posted by vacapinta at 10:15 AM on July 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I wonder if you're actually getting an additional handicap by being in the vicinity of sporting events. There's a lot of Big Beer money/marketing/visibility/sponsorship stuff systemically related to all that that may be throwing a serious whammy factor onto the visibility of the huge variety of beers that don't get local trackside deals or advertise on the hoods of race cars.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:24 AM on July 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think cortex has it. You're unlikely to get good beer in the beer tent at a raceway, or at the hotel bars around the raceway, but I have had marvelous beer in Indianapolis and Daytona, but at nice restaurants.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:32 AM on July 6, 2012


Basically come cover something at Portland International Raceway sometime and I will take you on a blurry tour of the fuckin' promised land.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:33 AM on July 6, 2012


Bitter is what real beer drinkers call 'Beer'. All this fizzy yellow stuff is for the unwashed masses and is only good for outside drinking when its too hot for proper beer.

So bitter is... just any old beer?

Yeah, that's not helpful. And there's no need for the tone.

What would be helpful is "bitter is the British term for pale ale," or "bitter is a hoppy amber-colored ale," or "Boddington's is an example of a English-style bitter that is commonly available in the US."
posted by Sara C. at 10:33 AM on July 6, 2012


Why can't people call it a fucking sandwich?

Because there are different kinds of sandwiches. Mostly based on what kind of bread you use. There's a difference between a wrap and a sub, for example.

Sorry you don't like the different regional names for sandwich? Because seriously, you come from the land of baps and butties. Which, what? You have no room to talk.

Also, you people pronounce urinal like You Rye Nal. Which should officially disqualify you from passing judgment on anything anyone from any other country has ever said.

Oh? And I've heard you people ordering Mexican food. Don't think I don't know about that.
posted by Sara C. at 10:39 AM on July 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


You can specify bread in a deli (chain or local) but in America, at least on the East Coast, a lot of the time you buy sub at a combination sub shops/pizza place. They don't have regular sandwich bread.
posted by Diablevert at 10:41 AM on July 6, 2012


Sara C. have you ever had a Fullers ESB? The initials stand for Extra Special Bitter. It basically means a less hoppy version of a pale ale. It can be slightly confusing because they don't really taste all that bitter, especially compared to the IPAs that have become so popular recently.
posted by Ragged Richard at 10:44 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Brockles: "Why can't people call it a fucking sandwich?"

They do. That's what they call the fuckin' thing in Brooklyn. As in, "Yo asshole, here's twenty bucks. Now go get me a fuckin' sandwich from the store on the corner. And make sure he puts on extra goddamn onions this time!"
posted by zarq at 10:45 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


For some reason, the good US beer seems to be in little pockets of availability and not widely available.

That may have been true thirty years ago but that's not even close to true now. I can't remember the last time I was in a bar or restaurant or package store that didn't have at least a few micro-brews available and usually a good number. Heck, last week I was at the Pirates' game and they had Magic Hat on tap.
posted by octothorpe at 10:47 AM on July 6, 2012


Oh? And I've heard you people ordering Mexican food. Don't think I don't know about that.

I have heard so many British people calling Marbella "Mar BELL Uh" that I can't even muster up anything more than a wearied look of disapproval anymore. And then they roll up with Thames and Cholmondeley and act like everyone else is the idiot.

sigh

Seriously though the average brit trying to speak spanish is about as hilarrible as the average american trying to speak french. Possibly worse.
posted by elizardbits at 10:52 AM on July 6, 2012


And I've heard you people ordering Mexican food.

I doubt it. I know my limitations. I usually just point at stuff. I'm slowly learning what things actually are, but I can't pronounce it properly.

Yeah, that's not helpful. And there's no need for the tone.

What would be helpful is "bitter is the British term for pale ale


Weeeeell. I did provide a link. Incidentally, I think whatever tone you think you're reading is way more snotty than the comment was written in. I guess dry humour doesn't read well?

You're unlikely to get good beer in the beer tent at a raceway, or at the hotel bars around the raceway,

Oh, I never drink at the track (what with all the working going on) so never frequent beer tents (Plastic fucking beer glasses? Ugh). They're more the band-aid of beer drinking anyway - they'll get you through an hour or so until you can seek proper beer, but they'll never really help.

The team I am with for the last two years has a much better food budget (Owner drivers are much more generous than doing this for profit!) so I've been to some decent restaurants during this time (and when visiting my wife before she moved up to Canada) but even then it's pretty hard to get anything but (crucially) when I do get some options, I can't get any idea at all for what it is like if it is bottled - generally the wait staff don't drink it and no-one I am with can describe it in any terms I know of. Regional beers are so different that people don't have a frame of reference for outsiders for you (ie me) to get a handle on it.

I was discussing with my wife last night that there is a lot of established knowledge/routine in US culture (she's from California) that doesn't seem to be apparent to american people but leaves us foreigners floundering a bit. It's hard for the locals to fill in the gaps efficiently when they don't even realise what knowledge we are missing - food ordering, sandwich names, tipping culture all that kind of stuff). Finding decent beer seems to be one of those things. I'm sure if I was anywhere in the US for a week or two, I'd find it on my own, but when I have two (at most usually) evenings in any one place and usually 2 hours or so to get fed and get back to the hotel (because we're late from and early to the track), maybe I am in a subset of failing at finding something different with the same method every time - destined to fail, right?
posted by Brockles at 10:56 AM on July 6, 2012


Hey, I married a Texan who "speaks some Spanish".
It's always good for a laugh to listen to how her Texas accent get's THICKER while speaking in another language.
posted by Seamus at 10:56 AM on July 6, 2012


There are no widely available decent non-lager beers in the US that aren't imported

Incorrect.

Usually it's a regional thing. In New England you'll see Sam Adams (which I'm also not a fan of, but it's no Coors Lite). In the midatlantic states you'll see Yuengling. The deep south tends to go for Abita. Texas has Lone Star. I'm not sure what the other regional beers are, but I'm sure they exist.

I think one misconception you may have is the fact that this bar experience you had was in Detroit. The Midwest and Great Lakes regions are the home of the German and Czech influenced lagers you don't consider beer. Which... sorry? This is sort of like a French person claiming an Oregon Pinot Noir isn't really wine.
posted by Sara C. at 10:58 AM on July 6, 2012


but (crucially) when I do get some options, I can't get any idea at all for what it is like if it is bottled

Say hello to Beer Advocate. Pop any goddam thing into their search field; if it exists and it's beer, you'll get a capsule review and some reader/drinker discussion as well most likely. Quick work on your phone and you can get a decent idea what your options are.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:11 AM on July 6, 2012


Incorrect.

As mentioned, it seems that my definition of 'widely available' differs enormously from the US perspective. I mean, that I can go to the 5 to 8 States I'll travel to and find a beer I like that is domestic in more than one State (ie the same one).

In the midatlantic states you'll see Yuengling.

I keep trying that, because it seems to promise so much, but I am always mildly disappointed. Sam Adams is the Band Aid thing again, but it is better than lager. I've even come to appreciate Weissbier a bit more because it is more available in reasonable quality than Bitters, but I'm not sure why that is. When confronted with several completely unknown beers, the Weissbier is generally the safer choice, I've found.

I think one misconception you may have is the fact that this bar experience you had was in Detroit. The Midwest and Great Lakes regions are the home of the German and Czech influenced lagers you don't consider beer.

No, it wasn't until I got stuck in Detroit that I had the time to sit in a bar or two for a while and then discovered there WERE beers other than Bud/Coors/Sam Adams/etc., etc. Mass produced US beer sucks. The local stuff is TOO local (or regional, if that fits better). It's a damn shame, because too many people don't happen across the better (craft) stuff and that is why people like me originally become convinced that US beer ALL sucks. I've known lots of people that visited (US, Canadian, European, Australian etc) and thought the same thing.

Say hello to Beer Advocate.

Bookmarked. I wonder if the lack of cross-regional beer availability means that is why it is so hard. Any average local you ask, even if they drink non-mainstream beer, only knows it within the context of that region, which is no help at all.

German and Czech influenced lagers you don't consider beer.

The Germans and the Czechs make some great beers. The Lager vs Bitter debate is kind of a 'thing' back home. Lager is for kids to 25/30 yrs old, then when you get older you tend to move towards drinking bitter is kind of a trend/stereotype so the whole issue is amusing for any UK-ite. "Bloody kids with their weak bloody fizzy half-beer stuff" from grumpy old men in bars, and The Youth dismissing old people as "Bitter drinking old farts". Clearly, that joke doesn't travel well as you still seem to be ruffled by it.
posted by Brockles at 11:15 AM on July 6, 2012


Nobody orders "a beer" in the US, not even (shudder) Bud drinkers.
That's a Hollywood conceit.


you might think 'that's so dumb nobody would do it'. But I spend a lot of time in the bar my boyfriend works in, and a shitload of people will wander in, stare vacantly at the 15 taps, and say 'can I have a beer?'

Now, the big problem is how when I order whisk[e]y and coke here, they give me bourbon.
posted by jacalata at 11:33 AM on July 6, 2012


Wait . . . what else would you expect?
posted by Seamus at 11:38 AM on July 6, 2012


FWIW The NW has pretty great beer, much better than you'd expect given the Merican stereotype. It varies heavily by region though - some places you are just going to get a Bud or Coors.
posted by Artw at 11:44 AM on July 6, 2012


Now, the big problem is how when I order whisk[e]y and coke here, they give me bourbon.

Royal Mile Whiskies in Edinburgh carries a nice range of Bourbons. So, there'll be none of that here.
posted by vacapinta at 11:47 AM on July 6, 2012


And in the US a sports coat probably isn't going to be made by Adidas.

Well, a sport coat is something like a suit jacket, whereas the Adidas-style (athletic) top you're thinking of is called a track jacket here. To be fair, though, in America we have for weird and confusing reasons decided to use the term "sportswear" for both athletic and fashion items. I wasn't even aware of the second meaning until I starting watching Project Runway and I was just as confused then as you are now.
posted by psoas at 11:49 AM on July 6, 2012


The reason I am not in food service anymore:
If someone walked in, stared at 15 taps and asked "Can I have a beer?" my response would be to say "Yes" and wait for them to elaborate.

And in the US, if you ask for a whiskey and coke, I would expect to either get Jack Daniels or a bourbon and coke because those are the standard American whiskeys. If you wanted something specific, rather than well, you'll need to specify. But if you're mixing it with coke, you're probably not too picky about specific brand, so you might as well specify rye, bourbon, Scotch or Irish (especially since the presence or absence of the "e" in whiskey is hard to determine when someone is speaking the word).
posted by Seamus at 11:49 AM on July 6, 2012


Now, the big problem is how when I order whisk[e]y and coke here, they give me bourbon.

Well, the prototypical whiskey and coke drink booze seems to be Jack Daniels, which is a straight bourbon. So depending on who you're asking and where, you might indeed need to get more specific if you're expecting something else.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:49 AM on July 6, 2012


I quickly learned to ask for Scotch. It was just the first couple of drinks I ordered after arriving that were surprises - I couldn't guarantee what I'd been getting in Australia, but it sure wasn't bourbon.
posted by jacalata at 11:53 AM on July 6, 2012


(I know that if I'd wanted Jack and Coke back home, I'd have said exactly that).
posted by jacalata at 11:54 AM on July 6, 2012


And Cortex, Jack is Tennessee whiskey. Not Bourbon.
(Well, it could be bourbon, but the company claims it isn't, and I am willing to follow their lead in order to not have to give that swill any more credit than it deserves.)
posted by Seamus at 11:58 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


because it is more available in reasonable quality than Bitters, but I'm not sure why that is

Because the US isn't England. Jeez. Is it really that hard to understand that we're our own country with our own styles of beer?

A lot of the styles that are popular here aren't associated with Britain at all, because a gigantic band of the country has Germany, Scandinavia, and eastern/central Europe as its main cultural influence.
posted by Sara C. at 12:00 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, you really seem destined to misread every one of my posts.
posted by Brockles at 12:03 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Clearly, that joke doesn't travel well as you still seem to be ruffled by it.

No, it's just not relevant here. Because we have lots of different kinds of beers. We're a huge and diverse country with a lot of different influences. We're not like Britain, where there is THING, and all other variations on THING are foreign and therefore inferior.

If you walk into your average bar and look around at what beers people are drinking, there will be absolutely no distinction between the people drinking a lager or a pilsner and people drinking a bitter or a stout or a Belgian or whatever else.

The big distinction here used to be domestic vs. import, but the microbrew boom, the consolidation/globalization of imports, and the overall resurgence in American appreciation for good beer blurs that distinction a lot. It used to be that if you drank Budweiser you were one kind of person, and if you drank Heineken you were a different kind of person. Now the people who used to drink the former are more likely to be seen drinking the latter, and the person who used to drink the latter will probably be drinking a domestic regional or a microbrew. And nobody cares, anyway.
posted by Sara C. at 12:06 PM on July 6, 2012


And Cortex, Jack is Tennessee whiskey. Not Bourbon.

Tennessee whiskey is, in fact, bourbon whiskey, by legal definition. It's not what I'd reach for if I was in a bourbon mood (I really like either Bulleit or Buffalo Trace as my go-to bottles there) but if the complaint is that "whiskey and coke" produces a drink with bourbon and that drink is Jack and coke, there's no mislabeling going on there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:12 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sara C., you are largely right, but there are some pockets of America where that isn't quite the case. My friend told me about going to a VFW in Indiana and asking, "what kind of beer do you have?" The answer? "Both kinds."
posted by Ragged Richard at 12:13 PM on July 6, 2012


So, wait, there is a place in this world where people ask for whiskey and coke and expect to get scotch and coke?
posted by Sara C. at 12:13 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Lollypop, lollypop, oh lolly-lolly-lolly
posted by clavdivs at 12:17 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


expect to get scotch and coke?

That should be a crime.
posted by clavdivs at 12:18 PM on July 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ragged - well sure, but that's the VFW. Their entire MO is being reactionary and backwards and representing the absolute worst of America.

Even the hole-in-the-wall poboy shop in my backwater hometown serves Abita and Shiner Bock in addition to Corona and Heineken and a few variations on the macrobrews.
posted by Sara C. at 12:20 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Agreed. I mostly just thought it was a funny story and wanted an excuse to tell it.
posted by Ragged Richard at 12:22 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


if the complaint is that "whiskey and coke" produces a drink with bourbon and that drink is Jack and coke, there's no mislabeling going on there.

I guess we moved straight along from the 'things that are called different things in different countries' topic ey?
posted by jacalata at 12:23 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, no, I'm defending your complaint about getting bourbon in your drink as being legitimately stated on account of JD in fact being bourbon by the legal definition of the term, not arguing that bourbon and coke is somehow inherently the correct and only meaning of whisk[e]y and coke. The fact that what "whisk[e]y" means in different social and geographical contexts can vary so much is actually something I find interesting and fraught.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:31 PM on July 6, 2012


We're not like Britain, where there is THING, and all other variations on THING are foreign and therefore inferior.

That's not how it works, nor what I am presenting as my position.
posted by Brockles at 12:33 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


ooh, that reminds me of a story :)

I go to a lowkey irish bar here enough to be friends with the bartenders. One of them told us how he'd had a late night drunk Canadian visitor, who came in and asked for some Scotch Bourbon. Bartender says 'do you mean bourbon or scotch?' and the guy says no, I mean 'scotch bourbon'. Bartender looks at him and says 'we don't have that', and the guy says this is ridiculous, he's been looking for it all night because they don't sell it in Canada.
posted by jacalata at 12:36 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Wow, you really seem destined to misread every one of my posts."

She is being prickly, but you're also kind of being a poster boy for this thread's theme, except as expressed by cultural differences with regard to humor and tone and not vocabulary. Your humor didn't read to me, an American (with a lot of exposure to British media, however) as "dry", but as jokingly provocative/needling that I intellectually recognize as probably being intended as half-ironic and half-serious, but nevertheless pushed some of my buttons, too.

Both Brits and Aussies like to be provocative in their humor, but the Australians tend more toward obvious "tall poppy" stuff that is easier for Americans to parse, while the British tend more to an ironic, somewhat restrained provocation that has an ironic layer on top of a sincere desire to provoke, often creating something that is somewhat aggressive but plausibly deniable. I think you guys cloak a lot of things in irony and pretend you're not really saying what you're actually intending to say. But, hey, I'm not really complaining because, obviously, within your shared cultural context everyone understands each other. Americans have some similar tics.

I think in general, though, Americans prefer either sincerity (whether negative or positive) or, if people needle each other, that such needling be accompanied by a clear signal ameliorating the provocation (but that signal is not always sincere!). Without that ameliorating signal, and when there's not an established relationship (such as within family) that makes the boundaries of teasing obvious, then such things don't seem like teasing, but deliberate insult.

Of course there's lots of ambiguities and differences between individuals and so you and Sara C. represent a kind of clash of opposite extremes in the context of this thread, where you were more in this mode than most others and she was most inclined to take it negatively than most others. But note that a few other people seem to take a little bit of offense, and there are others like myself who probably felt provoked but didn't respond.

In most respects, I'm the last person to defend American offended sensibilities about how non-Americans do things — our egocentricism, our chauvinism, is relatively extreme and I'm well aware that we tend to expect others to accommodate us. And some of that is even true here on MeFi. So, in that context, I'm sympathetic to your expressing yourself in your usual cultural mode and you shouldn't have to defend yourself when it's the case that so many Americans do this every day and never think whether they're rubbing others the wrong way.

However, even so, MeFi is a really special place in the American-centric anglosphere in that it has many non-Americans and, in general, is more aware of these cultural differences and is both tolerant and alters our own collective standards because of it. And it's a good thing, really, if this goes in all directions, where we all try to recognize that the words we use and the ways in which we interact are not the only ways to do things and lots of people around us here on MeFi are different than we are, with different sensibilities.

One thing that I think is relevant about the whole beer thing is the combination of a few things: a) that the kinds of Americans participating in this thread are very aware that the rest of the beer drinking world has thought very, very poorly of American beer since forever; b) and Americans who have ever (in the past) been interested in beer have ended up being embarrassed by American beer; c) the rise of craft brews and microbrews and all that is a big deal in the US and many very fine beers are being made here now and it's not just a snooty, hipster subculture that's drinking them...there's a real nationwide cultural change happening (similar to the one that happened with coffee); but, d) we're still a little defensive about the whole "American beer is the worst in the world" thing.

I think the truth is somewhere between what you're describing and what the defenders are describing. The vast majority of Americans are still drinking the swill. However, most of them are at least aware of the existence of better beer and most of them have probably tried some. And so you still will see Bud and Coors and whatever everywhere, and that stuff is still sort of the default, if you actually look for it, you'll find that the good beer is pretty much everywhere, almost, but just with less visibility. We're still sort of in the "you have to ask for it" stage. But if you ask, you'll likely get it.

Also — and I'm not a beer expert by any stretch of the imagination — but I sort of feel like you're being UK-centric in your view of beers with your blanket use of lager as a pejorative. It reminds me of how Americans who are neophiles to good beer make simplistic equations of "lager = bad" and "stout = good". My own very dabbler experience (I rarely drink, but when I do I've learned to prefer good beer) is that none of the different styles are superior or inferior to each other, there's only superior and inferior specific examples.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:15 PM on July 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


Boy, I'm glad IF made that long comment, because he said what I wanted to say, only better and more kindly.

> Your humor didn't read to me, an American (with a lot of exposure to British media, however) as "dry", but as jokingly provocative/needling that I intellectually recognize as probably being intended as half-ironic and half-serious, but nevertheless pushed some of my buttons, too.

Yup. I bristled when you made them, and bristled even more when you mocked Sara for not getting your humor. Of course, you're going to tell me you weren't mocking her, you were just being British. Well, OK then! And she's being American, as am I. And it helps to be aware of these differences and maybe phrase what you have to say differently than you would in your local pub where everybody knows your style of humor.
posted by languagehat at 1:52 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


There was a time, and I grew up in it, when most available beer was not so good, and Molson or Amstel were the best you could find.

That all ended in the early 90s. Anyone who thinks you can't easily find good beer in the US - especially in any city in the US - hasn't been here in about 20 years, or is operating entirely on stereotype.

We did have to recover from the post-prohibition era, and Americans (when they drank) were more interested in spirits than beer or wine until the late 1970s. No one was investing in beer; many old breweries folded and remaining ones consolidated or sold to the big brands.

But good startup breweries have gradually been working their way back into the mainstream - which they very much were throughout the 19th century and until Prohibition - ever since then, as part of a slowly-growing backlash to this trend which took off after the Bicentennial. Anchor and Sam Adams (which are quite mainstream and can be found nationwide now) were at the forefront of this trend.

Today, microbreweries, regional brews, and craft beers are available coast to coast, in a far greater variety of styles than in any European country. The US has one of the most vibrant, diverse, and dynamic beer cultures of any nation in the world today.

Yes, Bud and Coors are available everywhere too. They're extremely cheap in comparison, and attract a lifestyle contingent that treasures the low cost and light flavor more than any other characteristic. But they no longer rank among the most popular beers on all measures. Yuengling is now not only the oldest brewery in the US (and one of the oldest in the world) but due to recent expansions is now the largest.
posted by Miko at 2:05 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


"England and America are two countries separated by a common language."

-George Bernard Shaw
posted by double block and bleed at 2:09 PM on July 6, 2012


octothorpe: "Heck, last week I was at the Pirates' game and they had Magic Hat on tap."

They also frequently have at least one tap for our local super-micro brewery--which, for Brockles' benefit, makes a wide range of ales from hefeweizen to stout, as well as the occasional lager--including a fabulous smoked lager that several friends I shared it with recently compared to Scotch.

Brockles, I have no idea if there are any tracks near Pittsburgh or how often you're in town, but I strongly suggest next time you are you find one of the over five dozen places you can get East End (and probably a range of other local, regional, and national craft beers) across Allegheny County. Hell, you can even walk right up to the brewery and buy it direct most evenings.

If you're a bit farther north, look for Erie Brewing Co. If you're anywhere between Chicago and the Hudson, you should be able to get a Great Lakes. Yes, the range of craft breweries in this country is immense, varied, and ever-changing, and finding and remembering the good ones can require a scorecard, but, truly, it's not that hard if you try.
posted by FlyingMonkey at 2:10 PM on July 6, 2012


Any average local you ask, even if they drink non-mainstream beer, only knows it within the context of that region, which is no help at all.

Actually, I think this is what's fantastic about US beer culture. It's definitely one of the loveliest things about traveling here - wherever you go, there are new brews to try. If mass produced stuff is what to avoid, then locally produced stuff, by definition, is what to seek.

Yuengling's porter is great.
posted by Miko at 2:11 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


FWIW, I just thought you were wrong and being shitty about it.

The overall attitude (not the humor/manner of expressing yourself) is also something I've experienced a lot when I've encountered Brits abroad. I've met a shocking number of British people who openly scorn other cultures simply on the basis of being different from what they're used to. So it's hard to assume that Brockles was joking when you've heard other Brits say things like that about things like Sikhs wearing turbans or Peruvians celebrating old Inca holidays.

Maybe they were joking? They didn't sound like they were joking.
posted by Sara C. at 2:12 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I rarely drink and when I do, I usually drink craft beers. Yesterday, my neighbor offered me a beer and I drank it.

Call it swill, piss water or whatever, that ice-cold Coors Light I drank when it was 103 degrees outside really hit the spot.
posted by double block and bleed at 2:15 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


bristled even more when you mocked Sara for not getting your humor

Well, I can't even find what you thought was me mocking her, so I have no idea where you get that idea from. Honestly can't read that into my comments at all. The only provocative or needling humour was with Seamus, I thought, and that seemed entirely good natured to me (certainly made me laugh). Or have you been chastising him for threatening that we'd end up fighting if we met somewhere behind the scenes in Mefimail? No? Is that somehow different?

There's some touchy people in here today. You can't even use stupid expressions like 'fo reels' in a post a some sort of indicator of not taking it seriously and have that noticed, it seems.

Of course, you're going to tell me you weren't mocking her, you were just being British.

There wasn't any mocking of any one person in any of my posts. Reading this back, I'd say there was more mocking and implied insults coming back at me, frankly. Yet I'm not all bent out of shape about it - quite the opposite.

I just thought you were wrong and being shitty about it.

I think you're wrong also, but feel I am lagging on the being shitty about it - especially with the "I KNOW YOUR TYPE IN MEXICAN RESTAURANTS" crap.

also something I've experienced a lot when I've encountered Brits abroad.

Well, we are all the same after all.


Now can we go back to having a conversation?
posted by Brockles at 2:18 PM on July 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Wait, you chastised me for threatening to fight you?
Damn me and my poor reading skills, I'm gonna kick my ass later.

And Brockles, if you come to Austin (what with our new race-y car-y stuff and all) drop me a line and I will make sure you drink some decent beer during your 2 hour window for dinner and beer.
posted by Seamus at 2:23 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Deal. Well that's Portland and Austin sewn up. I'll have to see who's racing there and wants an engineer for the weekend.

Anyone from Sheboygan, Danville VA, and Braselton feeling defensive about their local beers? That'l get my next few trips this year sorted nicely.
posted by Brockles at 2:28 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


This isn't what I expected to talk about when I made this post, but seriously, Brockles, you consider Newcastle Brown Ale a good beer? You poor thing.

I've heard people from the UK say that the US doesn't have any good beers. Whatever. Small price to pay for being exceptional, I suppose. Personally, I'll take a Bud Light Lime over some overpriced yuppie micro-craft brew any day of the week. I'm not too proud to drink the beer of the common man.

That said, if I had to name my favorite beer it would be Widmer Bros. Hefeweizen.

Oh, and there's another regional word difference I don't think we've touched on (hey, there's yet another, do they say "touched on" in the UK?): "brew" for "beer".
posted by MattMangels at 2:49 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Call it swill, piss water or whatever, that ice-cold Coors Light I drank when it was 103 degrees outside really hit the spot.

I think of this as Lawnmower Beer. After pushing a big machine around in the sun for a half hour, a near-frozen PBR poured straight down the throat is just about exactly how the world should be. See also band gigs. A time and a place and all that; there's beer-as-beverage and there's beer-as-cold-one, and sometimes you want one more than the other.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:55 PM on July 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yup, I used to hate Lonestar.
Then I realized that I lived in a place with stupid humidity, regular temperatures over 100, and cold, cold, tasty Lonestar.
I like beer, but I also like Lonestar.
posted by Seamus at 2:57 PM on July 6, 2012


seriously, Brockles, you consider Newcastle Brown Ale a good beer?

Well. Not so much, but it was better than nearly everything else that was available when I first came over here - Morrow, Georgia is to blame for that.

"brew" for "beer".

Brew is more likely to be a cup of tea in England, although that is shifting, I'd say.
posted by Brockles at 3:03 PM on July 6, 2012


I'm not too proud to drink the beer of the common man.

Ironically it's actually the beer of a publicly traded global multinational industrialized production system. So I am too proud to drink it.
posted by Miko at 3:13 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I rarely drink and when I do, I usually drink craft beers.

Stay discriminating, my friends.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:05 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]



Ironically it's actually the beer of a publicly traded global multinational industrialized production system . So I am too proud to drink it.


I just don't like the weird artificial lime flavor.
posted by Diablevert at 4:11 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a Brit I wish we got more American craft beer over in UK pubs, the sheer scale and variety of US microbrewing is pretty staggering and theres tonnes of crosspolination with the CAMRA scene in Blighty.

Never really understood beer snobs myself, all beer is good (although some beer is great)
posted by brilliantmistake at 4:35 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


> That's all mouth AND trousers, not NO.

Nuh-uh. Dunno where you got that. "All mouth and no trousers" is all talk and no action.
posted by scruss at 5:51 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


ALL MOUTH AND TROUSERS. Dedicated to preserving and promoting the great Northern English phrase 'All Mouth and Trousers' against barbarism and neglect.
posted by unliteral at 6:29 PM on July 6, 2012


That's all mouth AND trousers, not NO.

Yeah, that was such heinous misinformation I had to go drink the pain away.
posted by elizardbits at 6:49 PM on July 6, 2012


Nonono, it's 'All hat and no cattle'.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:49 PM on July 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


All mouth and no trousers sounds like a better time.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 10:55 PM on July 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


Okay, this thread is all but dead perhaps, and this is a wee bit of a digression, but a post from further up reminded me of something that happened recently. I live in Japan, and my friend (who is Japanese) works for a translation company and was on a deadline, and needed to translate something that the translator had missed, so they asked me. It was the tagline for Volvo.

She gave me the text, which was literally like, "Born in Northern Europe, the world's premium estate." The part that was stumping me was the part about "estate." It was written in katakana, which is what Japanese use to bring other language's words into Japanese, and was clearly the English word "estate." But it made absolutely no sense to me. WTF does property have to do with Volvo's place in the world?

I mean, a car is part of the property I guess...is this some sort of weird Japanese-ism?...I thought. There are tons of these kinds of borrowed words in Japanese ("shakuyogo"), where they change the meaning of an English word to represent something subtly (or not so subtly) different from the original English meaning. Therefore I thought I was dealing with a weird Japanese-ized English-like word. But I asked my friend and she was like, "I've never heard that word before in my life."

So I plugged "estate" into my dictionary once again, wondering if I'd found some obscure alternate usage of the word...and there it popped up, only in the Japanese -> English definition of estate: "English usage, station wagon." Damn British English.

This is all to say that the prevalence of English around the globe--even in other languages--is a problem. An amusing one, but a problem nonetheless.
posted by dubitable at 8:56 AM on July 7, 2012


Never really understood beer snobs myself, all beer is good (although some beer is great)

Jeez, no, there is some vile beer out there, really. All that rice beer, fizzy nitro-keg bitter, ugh. And I'm not too hot on those coffee porters either.
posted by unSane at 6:20 PM on July 7, 2012


« Older this is not a chawade   |   Thread disappear? Halp? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments