Monday, December 10, 2007

English/American (mis)translation

The first time I went to England, in 1999, I saw that they sold "British/American" dictionaries.

I should have bought one - among other things, it would have made the laundry slip in the hotel MUCH easier to understand. (Tip for the uninitiated: "pants" mean "underwear" and "trousers" mean "pants.")

It is very easy to offend in British by speaking American English - e.g., fanny means part of the female anatomy. I wonder if the genius who invented the noun"fanny pack" is aware of this? Needless to say, my dad could have used that dictionary on a business trip a few years back when he unwittingly said, ending a meeting with a British female executive, "I'm going to go back to my hotel and sit on my fanny."

But anyway - I didn't know the Brits could be unintentionally offensive. (Intentionally offensive, yes, if you happen to be American and traveling there during their busiest tourist year on record, at a time when the dollar isn't worth a fucking thing. But that was another blog, wasn't it?)

On the most recent trip, in April, we were walking down a busy street and were literally stopped in our tracks by the sign above.

Obviously we took a picture for my husband's friend, Dave, whose wife calls him Davy. It soon became his computer wallpaper.


JLee said...

There was an English woman who used to go to our church who would drop the "f word" like it meant nothing and people's jaws would drop open, but if you said the word "bloody" as children do when imitating the British, she was highly offended and let us know! lol

Darth Weasel said...

Who was it that said The British and Americans were 2 people separated by a common language? I will be taking my lorry to the loo for a cracking good time with me mates, eh?

Jessica Foster said...

That is TOO funny!
Bung holes are always good for a laugh...

Kirsten said...

but...but...what on EARTH can "bung hole" MEAN, then?!
i really want to know!

Leslie said...

When we were in Scotland we saw a street named Butts Wynd.

(A bung hole is the hole in a wooden barrel where you insert the spout).