English is Confusing: USA vs. UK [Comic]

Posted with permission from David Namisato.

Thanks David!

[Source: Life After the B.O.E. – USA vs UK]


46 Responses to English is Confusing: USA vs. UK [Comic]

      • Wrong, wrong, wrong, Mike. "Public school" in England means essentially what "Prep school" does in the U.S. They're called "Public" because when they were first instituted, their differentiating feature was that anyone with the means could attend, rather than admission being limited to members of an organization or church.

        • It's made all the more difficult by the fact that public schools in the UK are explicitly limited to the ones described by the HMC or the Public School's Act – private schools are exactly what you'd expect them to be, but they all tend to be ones that were founded later when the term 'public' no longer applied. Finally, just to make everything that teensiest bit more annoying, all of these schools can also be described as independent, partly because that at least removes the connotations of the 'public school toff' concept.

          Furthermore, you have grammar schools, which are still state schools but which also use selective methods such as entrance exams in order to choose applicants. Depending on who you ask, grammar schools are either just as elitist and socially divisive as private/independent/public schools, or the perfect means to allow bright kids from poorer backgrounds the opportunity to achieve social mobility and receive a far better education without having to pay a fortune.

    • Public School is just what we call private education. "Such schools were originally termed "public" in the sense that they were open to anyone who could pass entrance examinations and afford the fees, without religious or other restrictions."

  1. We could list a few other differences, but to make it more confusing there is also the spelling for the same words eg colour/color and the fact that our dates are presented in a different order dd/mm/yy or mm/dd/yy

    • I don't know about the UK, but i have seen at least 11 ways to do a date just in America. dd/mm/yy; dd/mm/yyyy; mm/dd/yy; mm/dd/yyyy; dd/MMM/yy; dd/MMM/yyyy; Month dd yy; Month dd yyyy; dd Month yy; dd Month yyyy; ddhhhhMMMyyyy.

      Oh, and all of the '/' can be written as '-' and most of them can be written as a space.

        • MM-DD-YY makes no sense to me. I write it that way because my teachers made me on school. And then the bank had a cow when I'd write DD-MM-YY on my checks. I'm stuck with it now, but when you think about it, it makes no sense.

        • It's because when we standardized dates in the U.S., people said "October the tenth, in the year of our lord…," where as in Britain, they typically (as far as I've heard) say "tenth October…"

        • Japan is using the Metric formation. An uncle, a retired government official in Canada, likes to tell the tale of a memo that was sent out to announce the adoption of the Metric dating standard by the government. This was before email, so all of this was done hard-copy. The first one came out with the instructions incorrect in the body of the letter, but date correct on the letterhead. The second came out with the instructions corrected, but the date done incorrectly on the letterhead. The third one finally had the date right in both places: yyyy/mm/dd. The beauty of this is that you can append the time (in 24 hour format) to it. It is 2011/09/13:22:51 as I write…10:51 PM on 13 September 2011. :-)

      • This is what I refer to when trying to figure out dates and contains most every combination (in programming and English notation) that I have ever needed: http://us.php.net/manual/en/datetime.formats.date

        I assume that MMM is referring to a 3 character abbreviation of a month name and that "dd"/"mm" is always with a leading zero. Most of your unique combinations deal with a two digit or four digit year. Taking the following information (March 31st, 2011 at 2:53pm), all the listed combinations are:
        31/03/12 (dd/mm/yy)
        31/03/2012 (dd/mm/yyyy)
        03/31/12 (mm/dd/yy)
        03/31/2012 (mm/dd/yyyy)
        31/MAR/12 (dd/MMM/yy)
        31/MAR/2012 (dd/MMM/yyyy)
        March 31 12 (Month dd yy)
        March 31 2012 (Month dd yyyy)
        31 March 12 (dd Month yy)
        31 March 2012 (dd Month yyyy)
        Not sure what "hhhh" is. (ddhhhhMMMyyyy)

        -the purring dork

    • British, Scottish, Welsh-english, Irish-english, Australian, Southern States American, Northern States American, South African… They are ALL "English," they are merely different DIALECTS.

      Pronunciations and spellings are different, language is not.

    • The English spoken in America has changed less from our shared common language than the UK English has over the centuries. Diaper, sidewalk, and other so-called Americanisms are actually archaic English words that we never stopped using. The same is true for many of the pronunciation differences, such as the letter R on the end of a word.

  2. The floor counting thing comes from the fact that we (in the UK) count storeys. A story is a floor that you build. The initial floor is the ground which of course is not built. Where is gets confusing is that we have now imported the American use of the word floor but kept the numbers by adding a "ground floor" which is not logical.

    But why is there no cartoon for 'fanny' ?

    • Other Indo-European languages seem really easy in comparison. The vocab of English is incredibly wide, pronuciation makes little sense, because spelling hasn't changed with the times, the grammer is structured and the so many words have to be said to get your point across. There are languages which have different pronunciation of letters than English and they still make more sense. But I love languages and haven't stopped looking at them since I was small so I have a biased brain.

  3. I hate to do this, but is Brits do make more sense on at least two of those, for example calling ground level, ground and the next one up first floor, also ive never understood why american football is called football when a lot of the time the ball is held in their hands, with football as Brits know it its kicked more apart from headers or taking the ball to the chest.

    Can anyone explain why hamburgers are called that yet im not aware of any ham being within them?

  4. Wanna say that most languages have the same problem. I speak Acadian-French and let me tell you, that's definitely different than Quebec French and most CERTAINLY different from France-French. Lack of speaking multiple languages may seem like it's an overwhelming feat, but it isn't. The real trouble with learning English is that there is a shit ton of silent letters. Can someone, for the love of god, tell me why there's a B at the end of lamb? O_O

    • Good question; the German root (from which it's derived) is 'lamm', but the Old English plural term was 'lomberu', which is probably where the 'b' was first included.

    • The word Lamb is derived from the word Lambrini, which is a Latin-Greek word for "Sheep Urine", Lam means sheep and Brini means "piss/urine", So naturally we dropped the Brini. i would guess that the B was retained accidentally.

    • Am I the only one that finds it a bit ironic that someone who speaks French finds English to have too many silent letters. Beaux, Jacques, faux, ballet … these and many more French words seem to be filled with unpronounced letters.

      Unpronounced letters in most languages tend to be left overs from archaic versions of the word.

      • Knight is a good example… I was listening to someone reading some old english writing and the 'k' was pronounced and the 'gh' was like the germanic gutteral pronounciation.

  5. Apparently… dislexia is easier to pick up in English speaking people than people who speak say, Italian because of how detached the written and oral parts are with all the silent letters and the whole 'ghoti' thing. Source: Some neurologist on a podcast. Could be sketchy but it makes logical sense to me.

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