The difference is language. The similarity is language.

(Before I get to the sweet meat of the post- the bees are back. I’m reporting from my concrete reinforced bunker under the bronze statue of the boy and his sailboat in the town centre.)

Language. America and the UK are nations divided by a common language, or so you often hear quoted. In learning to write for publications on both sides of the Atlantic (sorry Australia, I’ve not even scratched the surface of your colloquialisms yet) I am shifting phrases and terminology to suit as best as I can. To assist me with these tasks, I’ve got a few copies of US and UK editions of Reader’s Digest (same stories, different edits), a crackin’ writing tutor, and a couple of books that dissect US to UK terms and slang. In reviewing some of the lingo, I’m uncovering a bit about my birth country dialect as well. There are American terms I’ve never heard that sound more foreign to me than the British counterparts. Let me give a few examples:

UK: funny bone = US: crazy bone
(I’ve always called it a funny bone.)
UK: lay-by = US: pull-off
(I’ve always known it as a wayside, but that the action was ‘to pull-off into the wayside.’ I’ve never seen a sign for a ‘pull-off’)
UK: WC/toilet/public convenience = US: restroom/toilet/comfort station
(I’ve never heard of a toilet referred to as a ‘comfort station’ which likely sounds even sillier to the British than ‘restroom’ does.)

Now, I grew up in the Midwest. Pretty much dead-center Midwest in Indiana. I’ve lived other places though, other states. Pennsylvania for 5 or 6 years and Wisconsin for 10. I know ‘pop’ and ‘soda’ as well as ‘yins’ and ‘y’all’, but the differences in US – UK translations baffle me at times. I’m more worldly than most of the people I know, yet still so limited. I guess that’s where faith in an editor will come into play.

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8 thoughts on “The difference is language. The similarity is language.”

  1. Now that you’ve used a good few bogs in these ‘ere parts, you can understand just why they could never, ever, be accurately referred to as ‘comfort stations’.

  2. I sometimes think of my bathroom as a comfort station, but have never called it that. It is comforting to look at the half naked boys on the wall.

  3. Jodi, the nekid men in your bathroom are less comforting and more distracting… not that I’m complaining. πŸ˜‰

  4. I’d really like to know where the “loo” came from. I hope that’s how it’s spelled.

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