Q is for Queen’s English

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

I have friends “across the pond.” I treasure them and find their accents entrancing. It is interesting, though, the differences in our languages. We all speak English, but there is a vast difference between American English and the Queen’s English.

George Bernard Shaw wrote that England and America were two countries separated by the same language. Oscar Wilde in 1887 said something similar. “…these days we have everything in common with America except language.” Of course, Thomas Jefferson in the later 1700’s famously made up words specifically to distance the new nation from Britain.

Below are some examples of words used differently.

British:                                                                  American:

Biscuit                                                                   cookie

Boot                                                                      trunk

Chips                                                                     French fries

Cot                                                                         crib

Crisps                                                                    potato chips

Dust bin                                                               trash can/garbage can

Fringe (hair)                                                       bangs (hair)

Knickers                                                               panties

Pants                                                                     boxers

Lift                                                                          elevator

Loo                                                                         toilet

Nappies                                                               diapers

Trousers                                                              slacks/pants

Petrol                                                                    gasoline

Fag                                                                         cigarette

Tube or underground                                    subway

Motorway                                                           highway

Pram/push car                                                  stroller

Tap                                                                         faucet

Trainers                                                                sneakers

Lorry                                                                      truck

Rubber                                                                 eraser

Condom                                                               rubber/condom

Some of these could cause embarrassment and confusion in the wrong situation, especially the difference in interpretation of rubber.

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