Tag Archives: the power of words

Angry Sub-Editor: America versus Britain

Angry Sub-Editor: America versus Britain.

I enjoyed this post from Angry Sub-Editor. If you care about language, you might want to follow his blog.

We all know that US and UK English often have different words for the same thing (gasoline v petrol, sidewalk v pavement, etc). The global presence of American entertainment means that people in the UK are familiar with most of them, and some American words are commonly used in the UK nowadays (so ‘movie’ seems to co-exist quite happily with ‘film’). Others, such as ‘furlough’, didn’t survive the Atlantic crossing, while many Britons have never even heard of ‘maven’ or ‘hazing’.

But there is a more select group of words that mean one thing in Britain and another in America. It’s as well to be on your guard if you don’t want to be misunderstood.


The BBC’s habit of using a certain form to describe a country or the people thereof is annoying at best. What is wrong with using French/Chinese/Polish rather than France/China/Poland?

Then again, if you’re going to be annoying, at least be consistent about it.


Here we have a fragile-sounding “China woman…” compared to a “Polish village…”. If I was editor-in-chief, it would be a Chinese woman, but going by house style the latter ought to be a Poland village.

There are proper words to describe the things I am writing about, but my brain is being recalcitrant and not letting me find them. I apologise for my poor language. I don’t think it’s contagious.

EDIT: Someone has been subediting and corrected things since I posted—and corrected them against style to boot! Perhaps I have readers who work at the Beeb. 

A change in human character | Ian McMillan | Comment is free | The Guardian

The Lincolnshire scenery slips by like a pulled tablecloth, and we’re all on the train but none of us is really sure where we’re going.

Beautiful writing, thought-provoking words.

(And best read aloud in your head with McMillan’s lovely Yorkshire accent.)

Related posts: Switch off, log on; http://snaptophobic.posterous.com/three-stops-beyond-barking