You say Potato, I say potato

So busy yesterday with my wonderful godson and his family that I did not have a chance to complete Monday’s Blogging101 task.  Wasn’t worried as I have all of today to catch up.  So there I was sitting down at my computer ready to personalise a post but the daily prompts were unusually not inspiring me. No worries I thought I’ll go search for a Tuesday blog challenge. Thought I had found one when I came across ‘Tuesday Treasured Tidbits’ but unfortunately that seems to have been offline for a few weeks.  Was about to go looking for another Tuesday challenge when I go sidetracked by the word ‘tidbit’.  It had me puzzled as I was sure it should be ‘titbit.

I was right!!  It is ‘titbit’ in England but ‘tidbit’ in north America.  Means exactly the same both sides of the pond – a morsel of delicious food or a fascinating bit of information. Some say ‘tidbit’ was the original and it was the Brits who over the years have changed it to ‘titbits’ others say it has always been ‘titbit’ and that ‘tidbit’ is the newer variation originating in the late 19th century.

news-graphics-2007-_446892aIt immediately got me thinking of other variations you know the You Say ‘potato’, I say ‘potato’ moments or if as my godson’s parent would say to me you say ‘baath’, we say ‘bath! I also apparently (according to them anyway!) don’t know how to pronounce grass, plant or laugh.  Not sure Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers actually said the variations they sing but the British Library with their ‘Sounds Familiar‘ project have captured many of the British regional dialects.

I love regional dialects, we rarely hear them now in the south.  Fortunately the far west and north have held on to many of their words and accents.  For example I first came across ‘parky’ when at University in Leeds, and despite my many Lancashire visits and holidays only today learnt that a bread roll is also called a barm cake.

This post of course began with country divides rather than regional ones, and so to finish here are a few which can catch you out when visiting a country whose language is the same as yours but different.

  • Do you drive on the pavement or road?
  • Do you walk on a sidewalk or pavement?
  • When you enter a building are you on the first floor or ground floor?
  • Are you wearing pants under your trousers, or underwear under your pants?
  • Is your luggage in the boot or trunk?
  • Do you prefer biscuits to cookies, or scones to biscuits?
  • Do you want chips, french fries or potato crisps?

I could go on but others have done it far better than me – head over to Separated by a Common Language a fascinating blog on the American English divide, try Fiona Lake‘s translations of Australian into America or visit D J Barton’s list which includes some of the words that could get you into trouble!

Before I go though here are a few which might make you smile – one confused me when asked a few years ago as I got off the phone – ‘did you have a nice visit?’ I know now!  I have yet to convince my American friends of is that public schools are private ones, and every time I drive over Fanny Bridge beside Lake Tahoe I smile as I recall the first time I saw its name. And don’t get me started on thongs!!

4 thoughts on “You say Potato, I say potato

  1. Pingback: Friday Bugbear | The life of a 40 something

  2. I’ve had the conversation with many British friends….reminding them that in the states we put braces on our teeth and use suspenders to hold up our pants (trousers) not our stockings.
    And you can imagine the look on my (raised in the USA) face when my lovely English friend suggested we call the desk clerk in the hotel and asked to be “knocked up” in the morning.
    Great post!

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