As George Bernard Shaw famously noted, “England and America are two countries divided by a common language.” Most of the time we know exactly what our friends across the sea (or ocean) mean, and our vocabulary, grammar and phraseology are sensibly in synch with each other. But every now and then, our innocent comments or statements can cause confusion or amusement — or at worst, offense — to those on the other side of the Atlantic, often because of a simple, tiny word. A Brit complaining that his roommate can be “a complete twat” will undoubtedly raise a Yankee’s eyebrows. (Br. Eng.: fool, idiot; Am. Eng.: vulgar slang for vulva). The British Prime Minister and I have both regretted joking publicly about the word being the past tense of “tweet”, little realizing how smutty we sounded at the time.
Here are some expressions and basic vocabulary that can seem a little weird, stilted, silly, or downright rude and smutty to the ears of our friends across the pond.
She has a new lease of life. She has a new lease on life.
We’re visiting her in hospital in a fortnight. We’re visiting with her in the hospital in two weeks.
I take it in my stride. I take it in stride.