FALL FOR AUTUMN –
Algunas diferencias entre UK English y US English:
Welcome back to GNP! October means classes are back in full swing, term is truly underway, summer is quickly becoming a distant memory and autumn is upon us.
Autumn is many people’s favourite season as it brings with it fresh starts, new clothes (big, woolly jumpers), pretty colours, and of course, Halloween! Nowhere has a more autumnal vibe than New England in the USA, where the leaves on the trees turn magnificent shades of red, orange and yellow and people decorate their houses with pumpkins for the whole month of October, not just in the week of Halloween. However, it’s important to remember that the inhabitants of the most autumnal place in the world don’t refer to this season as ‘autumn’, for them (and for all Americans) the season is ‘fall’, easy to remember as it is when the leaves fall from the trees.
So, when studying English it’s not just accents that mark the difference between UK English and US English, sometimes you also have two different words for the same thing.
Many of these words are now used interchangeably by both Americans and Brits, due to exposure from TV series and films (or movies if you’re from the states). As well as films (UK) and movies (US), you have holidays (UK) vs. vacations (US), trainers (UK) vs. sneakers (US) and sweets (UK) vs. candy (US).
However, there are some differences in vocabulary than even natives may stumble over when encountering for the first time…a UK menu might include the vegetables aubergine and courgette, whereas a US menu would list them as eggplant and zucchini. In the UK you would walk on the pavement, whereas in the US it would be the sidewalk. If you needed some medicine you would visit the chemist (UK) or the drugstore (US), however you could use the universal term ‘pharmacy’ (which is also easier for Spanish speakers of English to remember). Furthermore, a K car has a bonnet at the front (where the engine is) and a boot at the back (to store bags, etc), while an American car has a hood and trunk.
Finally, watch out if a Brit or an American gives you an address…in UK English the floor of a building on the street level is the ground floor. Then, once you go up the first flight of stairs you are on the first floor, etc. However, in US English the street level is the first floor and you continue from there. Therefore the second floor would be on different levels depending on your nationality. But to help you, an American would refer to houses in high buildings as apartments, whereas a Brits would call them flats. So Flat D, first floor would be up one flight of stairs, while Apartment D, first floor would be on the street level.
Despite differences in accent, some differences in vocabulary (and spelling, but that’s for another day), the important thing to remember is that there are far more similarities between British and American English than differences!
Vocabulario de interés
(idiom) in full swing: at the highest point of activity
(adverb) underway: having started
(collocation adj. + noun) distant memory: a non-recent memory
(adj.) woolly: something made of wool
(adverb) interchangeably: in a way that can be exchanged
(idiom) stumble over: to fall over or have difficulty understanding something
(noun) flight of stairs: the stairs between one floor and another in a building