Proof Americans and Brits speak a different language

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  • “Guy” is of English origin, being derived from Guy Fawkes. Expansion of the use of the word to mean “fellow” happened in America and spread from there throughout the the Anglosphere.

  • "Guys" (non-gendered!) is also prevalent in Southern California, and since a lot of media emanates from there worldwide, well...
  • I often said that to children mine and others I might be looking after both male and female. "Alright, you guys time to gather up your stuff and get in the car we are going home" I have lived on the East Coast, and California so I am not sure where it came from.
  • NicoleMRNicoleMR Shipmate
    I have always used "guys" in a gender-free sense, however, recently I have seen, in things on making your speech inclusive, "guys" should not be used as it is not gender-neutral. So I don't know...
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited August 15
    It’s not used as gender-nonspecific everywhere in the US. Here, Graven Image’s sentence would start something like “Alright kids” or “Alright y’all.” “Guys” used in a gender-nonspecific way here is typically heard from people who’ve moved here from other parts of the country.

    My 20-year-old daughter does not like being called a “guy,” and has been known to respond to people who refer to her or to a group she’s part of as “guys” by saying something like “Look closely, I am not a guy.” Ditto many of her female friends.
  • Yeah, but that's a regional difference. Making it a matter of ideology is ... not the best way to get along with people who mean no harm? I mean, should I be taking issue with every person who refers to me as "dear" or "love" or (shudder) "my lover"? Sometimes you just gotta roll with it, when it's clearly a regional thing.
  • Yeah, but that's a regional difference. Making it a matter of ideology is ... not the best way to get along with people who mean no harm?
    Agreed; that it’s a regional difference was my point.

    I should probably have added that daughter wouldn’t necessarily correct anyone who calls her a “guy” or calls a group she’s part of “guys.” She’d do it when she thinks under all the circumstances it would be received okay. I should also have added that she’d do it with a laugh or in some other way to convey humor rather than irritation. (Even though she probably would be irritated, especially if it came from a male peer.)

    Perhaps the point about it not being inclusive is just a reminder that in some places it will be perceived as gender-specific, so know your audience if you are trying to be inclusive.

  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    I'm surprised. Perhaps this a regional variation, but I heard "guys" all the time growing up in northern Ontario from people who'd never seen a South African, and pretty frequently now in Toronto. I'll have to think about my time in SA.

    @Pangolin Guerre you and @NOprophet_NØprofit are both right. Usage of 'guys' (men, women and non-binary people are referred to as guys) in South Africa is more and more common in urban slang. It used to be mostly English-speaking white South Africans who used it, now everyone does. It's also found in many places in the US and Canada and I noticed it being used on Masterchef Australia last week, so there too.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    edited August 16
    I'd agree with that and that it is applied without gender-discrimination.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Here (England - UK) there's an age difference. If you're my age, one tends to associate the use of 'guy' with a person trying to show they are cool, but come what may a 'guy' is exclusively a bloke. It sound disconcerting to hear younger adults referring to or addressing a group of men and women as 'guys'.

    I don't think I've heard anyone use it of a group that was exclusively female, but that doesn't mean it never happens.

  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    To this Brit, addressing an exclusively male group as ‘Men’ sounds very military. Addressing an exclusively female group as ‘Women’ seems equally odd. For men I’d probably choose ‘Gentlemen’ or ‘Gents’ or ‘Guys’, or even ‘Boys’.

    I’m aware, however, that ‘Ladies’ is unacceptable to many and ‘Girls’ even more so. I’d probably try to avoid using any group term when addressing a group of women.
  • NicoleMRNicoleMR Shipmate
    The sources that I've seen that say not to use "guys" for a mixed group suggest "folks".
  • It's interesting that "guy" and "guys" seem different, but then my experience of the gender-neutral plural is the vocative, "OK, guys, let's start". The singular would not be used like that, and I think the non-vocative "guys" is marked as male, hence, "those guys on the corner" could not refer to a mixed group.

    As has been said, it might be the lack of vocative pronouns in English which has led to the use of "guys". In my teaching days, I heard it a lot used to students, both mixed, male, and female. In other words, we used it to groups of women.

  • It's interesting that "guy" and "guys" seem different, but then my experience of the gender-neutral plural is the vocative, "OK, guys, let's start". The singular would not be used like that, and I think the non-vocative "guys" is marked as male, hence, "those guys on the corner" could not refer to a mixed group.

    As has been said, it might be the lack of vocative pronouns in English which has led to the use of "guys".
    As noted above, “y’all” serves as a vocative pronoun in the American South.

  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    It's interesting that "guy" and "guys" seem different, but then my experience of the gender-neutral plural is the vocative, "OK, guys, let's start". The singular would not be used like that, and I think the non-vocative "guys" is marked as male, hence, "those guys on the corner" could not refer to a mixed group.

    As has been said, it might be the lack of vocative pronouns in English which has led to the use of "guys".
    As noted above, “y’all” serves as a vocative pronoun in the American South.

    Yes, good point. I was thinking about the use of the vocative, but it's pointless, since there are so many, madam, sergeant, sir, mate, etc.
  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    It's interesting that "guy" and "guys" seem different, but then my experience of the gender-neutral plural is the vocative, "OK, guys, let's start". The singular would not be used like that, and I think the non-vocative "guys" is marked as male, hence, "those guys on the corner" could not refer to a mixed group.

    As has been said, it might be the lack of vocative pronouns in English which has led to the use of "guys".
    As noted above, “y’all” serves as a vocative pronoun in the American South.

    Or more emphatically, according to a Canadian minister who was raised in South Carolina, "All y'all!"

    Around here, "yous guys" is not uncommon.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited August 16
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    It's interesting that "guy" and "guys" seem different, but then my experience of the gender-neutral plural is the vocative, "OK, guys, let's start". The singular would not be used like that, and I think the non-vocative "guys" is marked as male, hence, "those guys on the corner" could not refer to a mixed group.

    As has been said, it might be the lack of vocative pronouns in English which has led to the use of "guys".
    As noted above, “y’all” serves as a vocative pronoun in the American South.

    Or more emphatically, according to a Canadian minister who was raised in South Carolina, "All y'all!"
    Absolutely!

  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    It's interesting that "guy" and "guys" seem different, but then my experience of the gender-neutral plural is the vocative, "OK, guys, let's start". The singular would not be used like that, and I think the non-vocative "guys" is marked as male, hence, "those guys on the corner" could not refer to a mixed group.

    As has been said, it might be the lack of vocative pronouns in English which has led to the use of "guys".
    As noted above, “y’all” serves as a vocative pronoun in the American South.

    Or more emphatically, according to a Canadian minister who was raised in South Carolina, "All y'all!"

    Around here, "yous guys" is not uncommon.

    Another one I forgot, "youse" is found in Liverpool, and environs, and other areas, e.g. Irish. But not standard English.
  • And in the vicinity of Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania, there’s “yinz.”
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    NicoleMR wrote: »
    The sources that I've seen that say not to use "guys" for a mixed group suggest "folks".
    Unfortunately I know people both female and male who find ‘folks’ unbearably twee. (I’m not a fan either.)
  • BroJames wrote: »
    To this Brit, addressing an exclusively male group as ‘Men’ sounds very military. Addressing an exclusively female group as ‘Women’ seems equally odd. For men I’d probably choose ‘Gentlemen’ or ‘Gents’ or ‘Guys’, or even ‘Boys’.

    I think I'd draw a distinction between addressing a group that was intentionally men (single-sex sports teams, single-sex schools, etc.), and a group that just coincidentally happened to be men (five colleagues in a meeting, say).

    In the latter case, the sex of the people present is irrelevant, so I think I tend to use a generic form of address even if all the people happen to be the same sex. (This is perhaps the inverse of Mrs C's old French tutor, who insisted on using constructions like "each student should ensure he has handed in his homework before leaving the class" to a roomful of women, because she claimed that's how English worked.)

    I usually use "people", or sometimes "everyone". "Folks" doesn't have quite the right tone to me, although it's not horrible.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    BroJames wrote: »
    I’m aware, however, that ‘Ladies’ is unacceptable to many and ‘Girls’ even more so. I’d probably try to avoid using any group term when addressing a group of women.

    Strangely enough, use of "Girls" here continues when used by a woman who will play tennis or cards with the Girls, or meet the Girls for lunch. A man can ask if a woman with whom he's in a domestic relationship is off to meet the Girls for tennis/lunch, but not otherwise.
  • Perhaps "guys" is only gender-neutral in the second person.
  • I thought the Washington Post's linkage of the term with Guy Fawkes - Guido Fawkes - of Gunpowder Plot fame was far-fetched, but it seems there is something in it, but at a few steps removed.

    It would seem that the first reference to an effigy of Fawkes as a 'Guy' comes from 1806. Those of us of a certain age here in the UK will remember taking a stuffed dummy made of rags and paper bags round streets and houses or outside shops and asking, 'Penny for the Guy'.

    The first record of it being applied to am individual or group of blokes (it was gender specific originally) comes from a English source from 1836, t'internet tells me, with the first US reference coming a decade later in 1847.

    Then, it meant someone dressed scruffily, rather like the 'guys' that were presumably even then burnt on bonfires on 5th November.

    I don't know how far back the tradition of burning a 'guy' goes, but an annual burning of an effigy of the Pope was a major fixture of the London calendar during the 1670s.

    Whatever the case, it's an interesting example as Nick Tamen points out of a term being exported to the US then forgotten about (other than in its original context of an effigy of Guy Fawkes) to the point that it sounded like a highly exotic import when it first found its way back over the Atlantic.

    'Guy' and 'guys' was a term we only used in reference to the dummies burnt on Bonfire Night when I was growing up. We heard it on US films and TV series of course but I don't remember it becoming current in reference to men until much later. At first, it sounded like an affectation but now it has become common currency with little ironic or self-conscious overtones - although it wouldn't be a term I'd use very often.

    Not that I object to it. I may say 'you guys' occasionally when addressing a group of people, whether single gender or mixed gender, but very rarely would I say something like, ' I saw this guy in town and ...'

    Or 'This guy I know...'

    That's a generational thing, I think. I'd be more likely to say 'bloke'.

    Back in the '80s and '90s I used to wince when preachers used the term as it sounded like a self-comscious attempt to be cool or to sound 'down-home' - to use another US expression - or casual.

    These days it has largely lost that sense of self-conscious posturing.

  • Then, it meant someone dressed scruffily, rather like the 'guys' that were presumably even then burnt on bonfires on 5th November.

    As indeed it still does in rural Staffordshire, where people of my grandparents generation (born 1920s) and occasionally my father's (born 1940s) will observe of someone scruffy 'he does look a guy'
  • Jonah the WhaleJonah the Whale Shipmate
    edited August 17
    mousethief wrote: »
    Perhaps "guys" is only gender-neutral in the second person.

    I tend to agree. If I saw a mixed gender group of people I would never say "There are four or five guys over there", but I might address them as "you guys". In fact I think that for many English speakers "you guys" is rapidly becoming the pronoun for second person plural in a similar way to y'all in the southern US, or youse in parts of Ireland and Liverpool. It seems there is a lot of pressure on the English language to have a distinct plural form of "you". Usually it is clear by context whether "you" is meant as singular or not, but sometimes I have found myself asking for clarification "Do you mean 'you singular' or 'you plural?'".
  • mousethief wrote: »
    Perhaps "guys" is only gender-neutral in the second person.

    People?
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    mousethief wrote: »
    Perhaps "guys" is only gender-neutral in the second person.

    Really good point. I can't think of any South African examples where someone would talk about 'those guys' and mean women as well as men, or only women.
  • EirenistEirenist Shipmate
    0For men, 'Lads' or 'Fellers' (Fellows) would be the most acceptable to 'Guys' in the UK 'Chaps' is dated and rather condescending. 'You lot' a possibility, among friends.

  • Then, it meant someone dressed scruffily, rather like the 'guys' that were presumably even then burnt on bonfires on 5th November.

    As indeed it still does in rural Staffordshire, where people of my grandparents generation (born 1920s) and occasionally my father's (born 1940s) will observe of someone scruffy 'he does look a guy'
    That usage is also reflected in “I’ve Got a Little List” from The Mikado:

    “And the lady from the provinces, who dresses like a guy
    And who ‘doesn't think she dances, but would rather like to try . . . .’”

  • rhubarbrhubarb Shipmate
    I refuse to respond if I'm referred to by the term guy.
  • I think if I talk about "these guys" or "those guys", I'm almost certainly talking about a set of inanimate objects. "Those guys" might be a particular style of chair, for example, or a problematic class of door lock.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    edited August 17
    mousethief wrote: »
    Perhaps "guys" is only gender-neutral in the second person.

    People?

    I am having a hard time hearing a water asking "Are you people ready for drinks?" Maybe it will come to this. I see no indication of it at the moment. And a white person addressing a table full of black people as "you people"? Yeah, THAT's a good idea.
  • rhubarb wrote: »
    I refuse to respond if I'm referred to by the term guy.

    No drinks for you.
  • Leorning CnihtLeorning Cniht Shipmate
    edited August 17
    mousethief wrote: »
    I am having a hard time hearing a water asking "Are you people ready for drinks?"

    I most often hear "is everyone ready to order" if for some odd reason the waiter doesn't think "are you ready to order" is sufficiently clear. If the waiter is particularly obnoxious, it will be "are we ready?" - I hadn't actually intended to have dinner with the waiter.

    I think I have been addressed as "you guys" by a waiter in a restaurant, but it's only happened occasionally.
  • Here "you guys" is fairly common. "Is everyone ready to order" strikes me as something you would say to a group of children, and thus very patronizing used with adults.
  • I suspect in all these cases the tone of voice will make a huge difference.
  • TrudyTrudy Heaven Host, 8th Day Host
    Re the elusive second person plural: today at work I was waiting to speak to our receptionist while she was on the phone to the photocopier company and heard her say, "And when can you come in to fix the other copier we got from ye?" Always happy to know that "ye" is alive and kicking.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    I have long understood "guys" came the American term G.I. (Government Issued). Was I wrong! We can thank Guy Fawkes for the term. Story Here.
  • Something different... "Runs good, never wrecked" is a common phrase in second-hand car adverts in the USA. I had always understood "wrecked" to mean destroyed, (e.g. ship wreck, train wreck) but in the USA it will commonly be taken to mean anything needing a body repair. Perhaps I've been away too long, but is it ever so used in the UK now?
  • Re American usage--"to wreck," that is, to have a car crash (second meaning). So "never wrecked" would mean "never in a car crash."
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Something different... "Runs good, never wrecked" is a common phrase in second-hand car adverts in the USA. I had always understood "wrecked" to mean destroyed, (e.g. ship wreck, train wreck) but in the USA it will commonly be taken to mean anything needing a body repair. Perhaps I've been away too long, but is it ever so used in the UK now?
    Not in my experience. In the UK, I'd translate that slogan as meaning 'it's never been a write off', i.e. damaged so badly in an accident that it has to be scrapped.

    There are always alleged to be cases of cars that are write offs but somehow get reinstated. That's likely to imply some sort of insurance fraud. There was one classic case in the law books of a second hand car that turned out to be the front half of one car welded onto the back half of another.

    'Runs good' isn't really a comfortable usage here either. We'd tend to say a 'good runner' or 'runs well'.

  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    I have never heard the term: "Never Wrecked" around my neck of the woods, but I have heard "No major accident." What they are driving at is when the chassis of a vehicle has been bent or changed because of a hard event. There are outfits that will try to realign a wrecked chassis but it often cannot be done. Usually, a car whose chassis is wrecked is totaled, meaning it is an insurance write-off.

    Another phrase heard is hurricane-prone areas is "No Water Damage," This means the vehicle has not been underwater which can ruin a drive train (engine, transmission, and wheels). However, having gone through one hurricane, I can testify to how heavy rain can get into the interior of an enclosed vehicle and cause damage to the carpet, the upholstery and the electrical system too,


  • A car that's wrecked is "totalled" here. From total write-off, meaning not worth fixing in the insurance company's assessment. You can personally get totalled as well, meaning very drunk.

    Which leads me to drunk driving. Which is what it's called, or and impaired or .08 (zero eight). "He got a zero eight (an impaired) last night". We see DUI more frequently which I think is the American term.
  • Enoch wrote: »
    Something different... "Runs good, never wrecked" is a common phrase in second-hand car adverts in the USA. I had always understood "wrecked" to mean destroyed, (e.g. ship wreck, train wreck) but in the USA it will commonly be taken to mean anything needing a body repair. Perhaps I've been away too long, but is it ever so used in the UK now?
    Not in my experience. In the UK, I'd translate that slogan as meaning 'it's never been a write off', i.e. damaged so badly in an accident that it has to be scrapped.

    There are always alleged to be cases of cars that are write offs but somehow get reinstated. That's likely to imply some sort of insurance fraud. There was one classic case in the law books of a second hand car that turned out to be the front half of one car welded onto the back half of another.

    It is possible to legally drive a car which insurance had written off - paid the full value for, which was less than the repair cost - as long as you can get third party insurance for it. You would be insured for any damage you caused to others in an accident but not your own repair costs. Some years ago, when it was probably easier, my sister-in-law wrote off a family car (bodywork was too expensive) but it was used again on third party after my f-i-l fixed the dents. Perfectly legal, no fraud implied or inferred.
  • A car that's wrecked is "totalled" here. From total write-off, meaning not worth fixing in the insurance company's assessment. You can personally get totalled as well, meaning very drunk.

    Which leads me to drunk driving. Which is what it's called, or and impaired or .08 (zero eight). "He got a zero eight (an impaired) last night". We see DUI more frequently which I think is the American term.

    It amuses me that the term 'drink driving' seems to be current in the UK. I've seen more than a few drunks driving, but am pretty sure I've never yet seen a drink driving.
  • drunk driving. I think drink driving is British.
  • Something different... "Runs good, never wrecked" is a common phrase in second-hand car adverts in the USA.
    It is? I can’t recall ever seeing that. But in the spirit of this thread, it’d be a “used car ad” here, not a “second-hand car advert.” :wink:

    Meanwhile, what @Lamb Chopped said about the meaning of “wreck” in the US.

  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited August 21
    Enoch wrote: »
    Something different... "Runs good, never wrecked" is a common phrase in second-hand car adverts in the USA. I had always understood "wrecked" to mean destroyed, (e.g. ship wreck, train wreck) but in the USA it will commonly be taken to mean anything needing a body repair. Perhaps I've been away too long, but is it ever so used in the UK now?
    Not in my experience. In the UK, I'd translate that slogan as meaning 'it's never been a write off', i.e. damaged so badly in an accident that it has to be scrapped.

    There are always alleged to be cases of cars that are write offs but somehow get reinstated. That's likely to imply some sort of insurance fraud. There was one classic case in the law books of a second hand car that turned out to be the front half of one car welded onto the back half of another.

    It is possible to legally drive a car which insurance had written off - paid the full value for, which was less than the repair cost - as long as you can get third party insurance for it. You would be insured for any damage you caused to others in an accident but not your own repair costs. Some years ago, when it was probably easier, my sister-in-law wrote off a family car (bodywork was too expensive) but it was used again on third party after my f-i-l fixed the dents. Perfectly legal, no fraud implied or inferred.

    It's perfectly possible to get a written off car repaired, back on the road and insured fully comp. I know because I've got one.

    Total loss just means the market value was less than the repair cost plus the salvage value. It doesn't mean irrepairable.

    What can happen is that the salvage is bought by someone who repairs it more cheaply than the insurance estimate (e.g. third party parts, local garage rather than main dealer labour rates) and then sells it in the used market. Entirely legal.
  • KarlLB wrote: »
    Enoch wrote: »
    Something different... "Runs good, never wrecked" is a common phrase in second-hand car adverts in the USA. I had always understood "wrecked" to mean destroyed, (e.g. ship wreck, train wreck) but in the USA it will commonly be taken to mean anything needing a body repair. Perhaps I've been away too long, but is it ever so used in the UK now?
    Not in my experience. In the UK, I'd translate that slogan as meaning 'it's never been a write off', i.e. damaged so badly in an accident that it has to be scrapped.

    There are always alleged to be cases of cars that are write offs but somehow get reinstated. That's likely to imply some sort of insurance fraud. There was one classic case in the law books of a second hand car that turned out to be the front half of one car welded onto the back half of another.

    It is possible to legally drive a car which insurance had written off - paid the full value for, which was less than the repair cost - as long as you can get third party insurance for it. You would be insured for any damage you caused to others in an accident but not your own repair costs. Some years ago, when it was probably easier, my sister-in-law wrote off a family car (bodywork was too expensive) but it was used again on third party after my f-i-l fixed the dents. Perfectly legal, no fraud implied or inferred.

    It's perfectly possible to get a written off car repaired, back on the road and insured fully comp. I know because I've got one.

    Total loss just means the market value was less than the repair cost plus the salvage value. It doesn't mean irrepairable.

    What can happen is that the salvage is bought by someone who repairs it more cheaply than the insurance estimate (e.g. third party parts, local garage rather than main dealer labour rates) and then sells it in the used market. Entirely legal.

    I'm surprised that an insurer will offer fully comp for a vehicle on which it has already paid out the full value, but agreed that its totally legal..
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