American-British English dictionaries

I was doing a search for a British term, and came upon a simple yet informative American-British dictionary. Those Brits certainly can make simple things complicated, like "Band Aid," which is "Elastoplast" in their land. They make it sound like some futuristic device.

They also know how to be quaint: we commoner Americans say "garbage truck," but they get all cutsy on us and say "dustmen's lorry." Fancy, too: our "zucchini" is their "courgettes." And I thought they weren't too keen on the French.

Another more extensive Brit-American dictionary can be found at a Scottish dude's site. It's hard to figure out what his profession is, though he's got a lot of pics and other stuff over there.

But the important thing is that he created the massive dictionary. He says:

As a Scot who has spent some time in the USA on holiday lately, I have discovered a bewildering array of words which are in common use on our side of the pond and invariably mean nothing at all or something exceedingly rude on the other side. I once noted down about fifteen of them and that afternoon formulated them into this dictionary. Since then the dictionary has thrived (well, lived) on contributions from readers and is steadily growing into a decent reference.

Over 800 people have helped him out with the dictionary.

Breaking news: I sent Nev (the Metrolingua British English Consultant) the link to the first dictionary I mentioned, and he said:

The only issue I know with dictionaries ever is that they've all got far too many words in them, and it's never possible using them to know what people actually say.

I've never heard anyone, for example, in Britain, ever describe a plaster as an elastoplast. Sure, there's a brandname, but it isn't a household name like "Band Aid" is. I think lists of equivalent words are interesting, but my language theory is that learning any new language is 20% listening and 80% using hands and feet to describe what you mean. I can't imagine a situation where it would ever really be necessary to know both the American and British equivalents just to get by in English.

Good to know that he could send a swift reply in spite of the time difference. Now if only he'd come to the U.S., to see how we really talk.

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