What are some *subtle* differences among various dialects of English?

Hmmm… Maybe it’s just a Scottishism?

One of the things that I love about Sarah Millican is her tendency to refer to people as ‘flower’ or ‘pet’, which I understand is because of her sandancer roots.

Let’s not forget “cunt”. In American English, it’s just about the worst thing you can call a woman, and you would pretty much never use the term when speaking about a man. In Britain, it seems about as socially unacceptable as calling someone a bitch or a dick in the US-- not fully acceptable for polite company, but used frequently in casual conversation.

The British use of “sacked” (U.S. meaning: fired from a job) in all registers of English, from the slangiest, most relaxed speech all the way up to the toniest, stuffiest periodicals.

In the U.S., “sacked” is uncommon for “fired” … but when “sacked” is so used, it is in very informal speech. “Fired” is a neutral term that nevertheless tends to get replaced with “terminated” in many official registers of written English (e.g. ‘legalese’, employee manuals, etc.).

The oddity – from what I’ve experienced, anyway – is that British “sacked” seems to be deemed a fitting word in high-register circumstances where Americans would use “terminated”.

Be careful if you are ever asked if you want a “regular coffee” in certain parts of New England. That will be with cream and sugar.

In Australia, if you order a beer, you be might asked if you want a "schooner’.

let’s not forget the Pittsburghese (and some other regions) dropping “to be” out of sentences. it’s jarring the first time you hear or read someone saying “my water heater needs replaced.”

You-uns need a new water heater?

Generally in the US, we form a contraction with the word “have” only when it’s an auxiliary verb. “I’ve been there before.” “I’ve seen that movie.” But we don’t usually (at least IME) contract it when it’s the primary verb. “I have no idea.” “I have a copy of that book.” But I think our British friends frequently do use a contraction in the second case, right? To me, there us something sooo British about a deadpan “I’ve no idea.”

Close. It would be “Yinz need a new water heater ?”

We Americans do the same thing with ‘prison’ as well - ‘in the prison’ means physically present at the prison whether as a visitor, guard, or inmate, versus ‘in prison’ means serving a sentence.

I think the British thing with ‘hospital’ makes sense, but my campaign to use it here has not been successful.

I have noticed this before as well.

Another subtle thing is that in Britain the “have + auxillary” will be used in situation where the simple past would be used in the U.S. For example, “I’ve been to the shops this morning” (BR) versus “I went shopping this morning” (AMER)

There was a TV show about a pawn shop in NY that came out soon after Pawn Stars became a hit called Hardcore Pawn. It was pretty much the opposite of Pawn Stars, kind of “Jerry Springer does pawn” . One quote from the owner, “Experts? We don’t bring in experts, we are the experts”. Fighting would ensue.

Anyway, when they plugged something in to see if it worked, they always said, “plug it up”. I have not heard that term before or since.


Here in Maine, “ugly” is a temporary condition. We use the word to say someone’s in a foul mood. “The boss is ugly today, stay away.”

Is “auxillary” even a word? I’m proofing a document right now and believe it should obviously be “auxiliary.”

Or is this another British/American thing? Doesn’t seem to be…

My first husband used that phrase. He was from Kentucky.

I am dating someone for whom English is their second language and I have noticed that she interprets the word “Okay” differently. For me it is a catch all, generally positive answer but for her it means “barely acceptable” and is generally a negative connotation.

Various ways to resurrect a “plural you”:

You-uns [yunz or yinz], as already noted in Pittsburg area.

Yous or Yous guys; New Joisey

Y’all --> All y’all; various parts of the south
Any others?

Leave you as is and bring back thou/thee/thy/thine for 2nd per. sing.

Yes, only the second sounds right to my American ears in that usage, but that’s the standard present participle use of the word. We would use “stood” either in the simple past “he stood there for hours” or past perfect “he had stood there for hours.”

Is “were stood” really a standard UK construction for “were standing”? To me, it sounds more like something meaning “were placed” rather than the continuous sense of standing somewhere.

In my dialect, both are common. Heck, one of the tertiary hits of the grunge era was a song called “I Nearly Lost You.”

You are correct, the work is auxiliary. My misspelling reflects the American pronunciation. I think in Britain the final ‘i’ is pronounced.