UK vs. USA: What Gets Lost Even in English Translation?

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In the translation industry, even on bilingual business cards, we are occasionally asked to “translate” documents to/from UK/US English. It’s far more than just adding a “u” to the word “color” as each region has unique slang and local sayings that are specific to their locales. For example, to the US audience, the phrase “Do you want to stop at a lay by?” may make little sense. Well, there’s a newly revised edition to “The UK to USA Dictionary: British English vs. American English” ($6.95, Solitaire Publishing) which hopes to solve these dilemmas. This edition chronicles the differences between UK and US English, including a pronunciation guide and sections on spelling differences and Cockney rhyming slang.

Some samples from the book include: (UK: USA)

Afters: Dessert

Anorak: Parka

Aubergine: Eggplant

Banger: Sausage or firecracker

Bap: Hamburger bun

Beetle crushers: Heavy boots

Bog: Toilet

Bridge roll: Hog dog bun

Buns: Muffins or cupcakes

Call box: Phone booth

Candy floss: Cotton candy

Cash point or hole-in-the-wall: ATM

Chemist: Pharmacist

Coach: Bus

Codswallop: Nonsense

Conjurer: Magician

Courgette: Zucchini

Crumpet: English muffin

Davenport: Writing desk, bureau

Drawing pin: Thumbtack

Dustcart: Garbage truck

Eggs and soldiers: Eggs and toast strips

Face flannel: washcloth

First floor: Second floor

Fish slice: Spatula

Flyover: Overpass

Gangway: Aisle

Gormless: Stupid, lacking sense

Hair grip: Bobby pin

Hire car: Rental car

Hoarding: Billboard

Iced lolly: Popsicle

Kagoul: Windbreaker

Kitchen roll: Paper towel

Knickers: Women’s panties

The local: Neighborhood tavern

Motorway: Freeway

Muppet: Dimwit

Nappy: Diaper

Niff: A smell, stink

Off license: Liquor store

Orbital: Beltway

Plaster: Band-Aid

Power point: Electrical outlet

Rubber: Eraser

Scrummy: Delicious

Sleeping policemen: Speed bumps

Silver paper: Aluminum foil

Skip: Dumpster

Tomato sauce: Ketchup

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