British & American English: a link

Val from Quiet Season has a post on a few differences between American and British English that you might want to check out because (a) it’s interesting and (b) it says a couple of nice things about me. Not that I’d be swayed by such a thing.

12 thoughts on “British & American English: a link

  1. There is no, none, nothing to help with: in school, in hospital, in the hospital, in the school, in bed, in the bed, in the university, etc., et al., ad infinitum. Any tricks from Minnesota? I went to school yesterday. I went to the school yesterday. Don’t get me started on “into.” :o)

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    • In Minnesota, people will ask, “Do you want to go with?” After 40 years I was used to hearing it, but I still couldn’t say it. In Britain, people will say, “She’s in hospital,” making it somehow (at least in my mind) a condition instead of a specific place. Prepositions have no logic to them. Every language–and, clearly, every version of every language–just has its quirks that you have to memorize. And non-native speakers will import their own quirks unless they learn the language flawlessly, because they can’t find any logic to hold onto. In New York, when I was a kid, I used to hear a phrase left from the Yiddish-speaking garment workers that my generation found both funny and endearing: “She works by buttons.”

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      • I’m not sure if I’m missing the point here… do you mean the difference between ‘in hospital’ and ‘in the hospital’, etc? Because ‘in hospital’ could refer to any hospital and is like using the indefinite article ‘a’: ‘a hospital’ and the other is a specific hospital, something one’s already referred to, like using the definite article: ‘ the’ ‘the hospital’.

        The Yiddish, by the way, may be a literal translation as Yiddish (from what I’ve been told) has a different word order and usage from English. I wonder if ‘by’ is interchangeable with ‘in’, i n Yiddish. Also, where families emigrated from an eastern european country, some of it comes from that country,’s own language and got mixed in with Yiddish, for instance in Russian the word ‘already’ (which is still often heard in ‘Yinglish’) is used to indicate a period of time ‘he had been there already one year’.

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        • I remember that use of already vividly, and sentimentally, along with enough already, which made its way into the New York English of my (non-Yiddish speaking) generation. I don’t know more than a handful of Yiddish words, so I won’t try to guess at the grammar, although I wish I were knowledgeable enough to.

          In the U.S., we’d say “in the hospital” even if we’re not talking about a specific hospital. Maybe because the person’s only iin one hospital, wherever it is, whatever it’s called. Or maybe, as the kids on my block used to say, just because.

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  2. Pingback: Well, will you? | Quiet Season

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