Heaven: 2021 Proof Americans and Brits speak a different language

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  • Piglet wrote: »
    Boogie wrote: »
    ... I just can not understand people using “I could care less” when they mean they couldn’t care less!
    That one puzzles me too; the only way I can make sense of it is by thinking of it as "I could care less, but I don't."

    I shall, however, be happy to be enlightened by any of our American chums!

    The world should be "couldn't," but we have contracted the word, ISTM.
  • IMHO it's just carelessness.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    BroJames wrote: »
    It belongs there with the equally strange (to my mind) British phrase, ‘cheap at half the price’.

    Heh, I've only heard that expression in a song ('Who will buy?') from Oliver. I took it to mean that something was being sold cheap, at half the original price, which would make sense, so I never thought to question it. Similar to street market sellers shouting out that the strawberries are half price. I imagined 'half the price' to be an older form of 'half price.' But I see from googling that a lot of people say the expression doesn't make sense, because they interpret it to mean it would be cheap if it were half the price, which is a very different meaning that hadn't occurred to me. And so an alternative 'cheap at twice the price' is used in the States. I never knew that.

    I see from the OED that cheap also has an obsolete noun usage, with several meanings - 'a good bargain', or 'commodities that are sold,' or 'plenty.' If one of these is what the expression initially meant, that is maybe clearer. Though the expression isn't in the OED, and I can't find anything about how/when/where it originated. There seems a lot of debate about what it means.
  • mousethiefmousethief Deckhand, Styx
    IMHO it's just carelessness.
    I think that's unfair. I think for most people it's just a stock phrase, and they've heard it used incorrectly all their lives and never stopped to pull apart the constituent parts and see what it should mean. There's enough things we say that mean the opposite of the words ("fat chance" for example) that even if they did stop and look at it, they'd probably figure it was one of those opposite things.
  • mousethiefmousethief Deckhand, Styx
    fineline wrote: »
    BroJames wrote: »
    It belongs there with the equally strange (to my mind) British phrase, ‘cheap at half the price’.

    Heh, I've only heard that expression in a song ('Who will buy?') from Oliver. I took it to mean that something was being sold cheap, at half the original price, which would make sense, so I never thought to question it. Similar to street market sellers shouting out that the strawberries are half price. I imagined 'half the price' to be an older form of 'half price.' But I see from googling that a lot of people say the expression doesn't make sense, because they interpret it to mean it would be cheap if it were half the price, which is a very different meaning that hadn't occurred to me. And so an alternative 'cheap at twice the price' is used in the States. I never knew that.

    I see from the OED that cheap also has an obsolete noun usage, with several meanings - 'a good bargain', or 'commodities that are sold,' or 'plenty.' If one of these is what the expression initially meant, that is maybe clearer. Though the expression isn't in the OED, and I can't find anything about how/when/where it originated. There seems a lot of debate about what it means.

    I think it's just an ironic reversal of "cheap at twice the price" the meaning of which is quite clear -- if the price were twice what it is now, I'd still consider it a bargain. Somebody or somebodies mangled it, either on purpose or accidentally, and it stuck. Like people saying "What a maroon" for "What a moron" which I think comes from Bugs Bunny. The intentional malapropism has taken on a life of its own.
  • RossweisseRossweisse Hell Host, 8th Day Host, Glory
    IMHO it's just carelessness.
    And massively irritating carelessness at that. (Yes, I did see what you did there.)


  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    mousethief wrote: »
    fineline wrote: »
    BroJames wrote: »
    It belongs there with the equally strange (to my mind) British phrase, ‘cheap at half the price’.

    Heh, I've only heard that expression in a song ('Who will buy?') from Oliver. I took it to mean that something was being sold cheap, at half the original price, which would make sense, so I never thought to question it. Similar to street market sellers shouting out that the strawberries are half price. I imagined 'half the price' to be an older form of 'half price.' But I see from googling that a lot of people say the expression doesn't make sense, because they interpret it to mean it would be cheap if it were half the price, which is a very different meaning that hadn't occurred to me. And so an alternative 'cheap at twice the price' is used in the States. I never knew that.

    I see from the OED that cheap also has an obsolete noun usage, with several meanings - 'a good bargain', or 'commodities that are sold,' or 'plenty.' If one of these is what the expression initially meant, that is maybe clearer. Though the expression isn't in the OED, and I can't find anything about how/when/where it originated. There seems a lot of debate about what it means.

    I think it's just an ironic reversal of "cheap at twice the price" the meaning of which is quite clear -- if the price were twice what it is now, I'd still consider it a bargain. Somebody or somebodies mangled it, either on purpose or accidentally, and it stuck. Like people saying "What a maroon" for "What a moron" which I think comes from Bugs Bunny. The intentional malapropism has taken on a life of its own.

    Yes, that’s one of the theories I cam across, from Americans who use ‘cheap at twice the price’ - and another theory by Americans was that they changed the expression to ‘cheap at twice the price’ to make it make sense.

    ‘Cheap at half the price’ actually seems more straightforward and clear than ‘cheap at twice the price to me’, because I don’t automatically add/assume a ‘it would be’ meaning. An ‘it is’ meaning seems to me the more obvious interpretation, as that is more usual (people say ‘brilliant’ and ‘awful’ and ‘cheap at that price’ implying an ‘it is’ rather than ‘it would be’, for instance) so I’m not seeing the confusion, but it’s clearly there, so who knows. It seemed clear in that one song - old fashioned wording, to match the era, but clear. But I’m guessing the way people use it otherwise, in other contexts, doesn’t make sense.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited October 2019
    For info:

    https://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/1576:_I_Could_Care_Less

    https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/Talk:could_care_less
    "A tin ear for stress and melody, and an obliviousness to the principles of discourse and rhetoric, are important tools of the trade for the language maven. Consider an alleged atrocity committed by today's youth: the expression I could care less. The teenagers are trying to express disdain, the adults note, in which case they should be saying I couldn't care less. If they could care less than they do, that means that they really do care, the opposite of what they are trying to say. But if these dudes would stop ragging on teenagers and scope out the construction, they would see that their argument is bogus. [Here PInker tries to illustrate typographically the difference in stresses and rising and falling tones, which I cannot reproduce in Wikipedia.] The melodies and stresses are completely different, and for a good reason. The second version is not illogical, it's sarcastic."

    I don't have my Language Instinct copy to hand but I'll dig it out later.
  • mousethiefmousethief Deckhand, Styx
    Cheap at twice the price dates to 1853. Cheap at half the price dates to the 1890s. So that theory is shot to heck.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    mousethief wrote: »
    Cheap at twice the price dates to 1853. Cheap at half the price dates to the 1890s. So that theory is shot to heck.

    Where did you find the info? I didn’t find any dates. Though the first found instances of usage aren’t necessarily the first usages - just the first ones found. From what I could find, ‘cheap at half the price’ was a what London street sellers would call out, so there wouldn’t necessarily be written evidence. So it still seems like the intended meaning and history of usage is uncertain, which is what all the sites I’ve come across also say.
  • Robert ArminRobert Armin Shipmate, Glory
    There's an expression I've only read in American novels about aristocracy or royalty. The woman has a duty to provide "an heir and a spare". The meaning is quite clear, but I've never come across it in the UK. Which odd, because we still have aristocrats etc, and America doesn't.

    Oh, and women in historical novels are always wearing "shirt waists". That I had to look up.
  • 'An heir and a spare' is quite common, in my experience, in the UK.
  • Robert ArminRobert Armin Shipmate, Glory
    Ah, it's me then. I need to get out more.
  • Never heard of "an heir and a spare "! It was all over the press before the Duchess of Cambridge had Princess Charlotte.

    Of course, by long tradition it was the rule to be followed before any aristocratic wife ventured to have an extra-marital dalliance!
  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    Do Brits say they quit smoking "cold turkey" or is that entirely American?
  • Never heard of "an heir and a spare "! It was all over the press before the Duchess of Cambridge had Princess Charlotte.

    I first heard it when Princess Diana gave birth to Prince Harry.


  • Robert ArminRobert Armin Shipmate, Glory
    Never heard it at all, and only seen it in print in American fantasy novels. Honestly.
  • We're into catch phrases now?

    I personally don't have a bucket list and see no silver linings anywhere.
  • Lyda wrote: »
    Do Brits say they quit smoking "cold turkey" or is that entirely American?

    I've usually heard going cold turkey in reference to opioids or alcohol rather than smoking, but I don't see a particular reason one couldn't use it about smoking.
  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    I never heard of "bucket list" until the movie came out.
  • mousethiefmousethief Deckhand, Styx
    fineline wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    Cheap at twice the price dates to 1853. Cheap at half the price dates to the 1890s. So that theory is shot to heck.

    Where did you find the info? I didn’t find any dates. Though the first found instances of usage aren’t necessarily the first usages - just the first ones found. From what I could find, ‘cheap at half the price’ was a what London street sellers would call out, so there wouldn’t necessarily be written evidence. So it still seems like the intended meaning and history of usage is uncertain, which is what all the sites I’ve come across also say.

    I just googled "cheap at half the price" and did a lot of reading.
  • Robert ArminRobert Armin Shipmate, Glory
    Lyda wrote: »
    I never heard of "bucket list" until the movie came out.

    The movie?
  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    Lyda wrote: »
    I never heard of "bucket list" until the movie came out.

    The movie?

    A movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvdTpywTmQg
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    mousethief wrote: »
    fineline wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    Cheap at twice the price dates to 1853. Cheap at half the price dates to the 1890s. So that theory is shot to heck.

    Where did you find the info? I didn’t find any dates. Though the first found instances of usage aren’t necessarily the first usages - just the first ones found. From what I could find, ‘cheap at half the price’ was a what London street sellers would call out, so there wouldn’t necessarily be written evidence. So it still seems like the intended meaning and history of usage is uncertain, which is what all the sites I’ve come across also say.

    I just googled "cheap at half the price" and did a lot of reading.

    Me too, but didn't find anything concrete, with clear evidence. I thought it might be helpful for the discussion to share the link, if you did find this. That is usually what happens in discussions where people are discussing openly to explore ideas, but I can't tell if you are doing that or getting irritated or trying to score points or something - maybe there is a pond difference in what we aim for in these discussions. I'm genuinely interested in language, and happy to learn new things, but I'm sensing you're not really wanting to engage, which is fine - I'll find other interesting language things to discuss with other people.

  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    I'd also never heard of 'an heir and a spare', but from googling I see it was used a lot on various UK news sites about William and Kate's kids.
  • RossweisseRossweisse Hell Host, 8th Day Host, Glory
    Pigwidgeon wrote: »
    Never heard of "an heir and a spare "! It was all over the press before the Duchess of Cambridge had Princess Charlotte.

    I first heard it when Princess Diana gave birth to Prince Harry.
    Likewise. (Of course, the royal-watchers among my acquaintance soon had him assigned to a different progenitor.)


  • RossweisseRossweisse Hell Host, 8th Day Host, Glory
    I did a DuckDuckGo.com (I never Google, being allergic to having ads follow me around the Interwebz) search, and found this.
  • mousethiefmousethief Deckhand, Styx
    fineline wrote: »
    I'm genuinely interested in language, and happy to learn new things, but I'm sensing you're not really wanting to engage, which is fine - I'll find other interesting language things to discuss with other people.

    This is laughable since I'm constantly yammering about the history of languages with my wife, my kids, interlocutors online, and any innocent bystanders who get caught in the crossfire. You conclude this from one post of mine in which I don't answer a question you didn't ask ("please provide me with the pages you found these dates on" perhaps). I'm not impressed.

    Cheap at twice the price - first recorded print use

    Age of Cheap at Half the Price -- search page for "1890"
  • Robert ArminRobert Armin Shipmate, Glory
    Are shirtwaists common in America?
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Rossweisse wrote: »
    I did a DuckDuckGo.com (I never Google, being allergic to having ads follow me around the Interwebz) search, and found this.

    Thanks, Rossweisse.
    mousethief wrote: »
    fineline wrote: »
    I'm genuinely interested in language, and happy to learn new things, but I'm sensing you're not really wanting to engage, which is fine - I'll find other interesting language things to discuss with other people.

    This is laughable since I'm constantly yammering about the history of languages with my wife, my kids, interlocutors online, and any innocent bystanders who get caught in the crossfire. You conclude this from one post of mine in which I don't answer a question you didn't ask ("please provide me with the pages you found these dates on" perhaps). I'm not impressed.

    Darn, and I was trying so hard to impress you. Must try harder!

    Seriously, though, you once said in Hell to let you know if ever you were coming across as a bit precious, Mousethief, and this is one of these times. I was referring to your entire communication in this thread, but equally, even my most literal-minded autistic friends would understand in the context of a discussion where both parties are interested in word origins that 'Where did you find the info? I didn’t find any dates.' is asking for sources, rather than just 'I did lots of googling and reading.' I have simply not come across the kind of literalism you are displaying before, and I have no idea if it's genuine, but you are also coming across as more and more offended, while I'm trying to have a friendly discussion about a topic we're both interested in, with no intention of offending or scoring points. Clearly there is a communication breakdown somewhere. Feel free to take it to Hell if you want.

    Anyway, thank you for the links. I will take a look.
  • mousethief wrote: »
    Zacchaeus wrote: »
    Not of record length but one of my favourite words as a child - Indefatigable

    and I could care less irritates me when reading american books

    I could care less irritates me when reading ANY books. I don't confine it to American ones.

    Fair enough, however I have only come across it in American books
  • Are shirtwaists common in America?

    Being UK based I had to look up what a shirtwaist is. I think it’s a shirt dress , a style of dress that’s like a long shirt and doesn’t suit me, so I’ve discovered.
  • mousethiefmousethief Deckhand, Styx
    edited October 2019
    American here. The only use of the word "Shirtwaist" that I am aware of is in the name of a factory that burned in 1911 (Triangle Shirtwaist Factory; 146 workers died), that is a model for employer indifference to the lives of their employees, and the spur to all workplace safety legislation since.
  • LeafLeaf Shipmate
    Shirtwaist dresses are classic fashion of the 1950's: a dress with a snug-fitting bodice, folded-down collar, button-front, short sleeves; a contrasting or matching belt; a voluminous pleated skirt. Think of "the perfect housewife" kind of dress, a Doris Day kind of dress. Google "shirtwaist dress" images for more (I tried to post a link, didn't work well.)

    There is a 1970's version which is simply a long shirt, belted, without the full skirt.
  • edited October 2019
    Rossweisse wrote: »
    I did a DuckDuckGo.com (I never Google, being allergic to having ads follow me around the Interwebz) search, and found this.
    You're a very good person to be unGoogling!
    mousethief wrote: »
    American here. The only use of the word "Shirtwaist" that I am aware of is in the name of a factory that burned in 1911 (Triangle Shirtwaist Factory; 146 workers died), that is a model for employer indifference to the lives of their employees, and the spur to all workplace safety legislation since.
    Heard of a panty-waist, but don't know what that is pr the shirt version. I had the general idea that a panty-waist meant someone you wanted to call a scaredy cat.
  • I'm familiar with the style of dress, but not with the term "shirtwaist." Whether that lack of familiarity has to do with being American or with being male and generally clueless about the what to call different styles of female attire, I couldn't say.

  • Robert ArminRobert Armin Shipmate, Glory
    I've read several American novels set in England in the Regency or Victorian era, and all the women are wearing shirtwaists. Its harder to be sure but I think it's an American archaism rather than one of ours. However, I'm asking because I often get things wrong about my own culture, as this thread has demonstrated.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    The online Oxford Dictionary of English gives it as a N. American usage for a women’s blouse resembling a shirt.
  • Do you have pullovers, anoraks, cardigans, shells, fleeces. All types of jacket like things.
  • Known down under as a shirtmaker, not waist. Those I made buttoned down length of front and had a skirt with some volume but not voluminous.
  • Do you have pullovers, anoraks, cardigans, shells, fleeces. All types of jacket like things.

    Aye in U.K. including trench coats, duffle coats, cagoules (anorak?), shrugs, hoodies (love a hoodie!) and probably more!
  • Leaf wrote: »
    Shirtwaist dresses are classic fashion of the 1950's: a dress with a snug-fitting bodice, folded-down collar, button-front, short sleeves; a contrasting or matching belt; a voluminous pleated skirt. Think of "the perfect housewife" kind of dress, a Doris Day kind of dress. Google "shirtwaist dress" images for more (I tried to post a link, didn't work well.)

    There is a 1970's version which is simply a long shirt, belted, without the full skirt.

    Good description of a shirtwaist dress. I always thought the one you describe as the 1970s version was simply a "shirt dress."
  • The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory was a factory that made shirtwaists, a sweatshop basically. Shirtwaists were a style of blouse popular at the time, but no one uses the term any more that I've heard.
  • RossweisseRossweisse Hell Host, 8th Day Host, Glory
    Shirtwaist dresses are still with us. (I tried to find a non-Amazonian model, but didn't have time for a thorough search.)
  • Rossweisse wrote: »
    Shirtwaist dresses are still with us. (I tried to find a non-Amazonian model, but didn't have time for a thorough search.)

    Here's a $3,900 (£2,615) one -- you may have to scroll down a bit. I can't say much for the model.

  • Gill HGill H Shipmate
    Rossweisse wrote: »
    I did a DuckDuckGo.com (I never Google, being allergic to having ads follow me around the Interwebz) search, and found this.

    I like that theory. So it’s a bit like “50p each or two for a pound” - just market trader spiel?

    I don’t use it myself but I have no problem accepting “I could care less” as sarcasm. I always mentally stretch it out to “Like I could care less”.
  • From the internet
    'The shirtwaist dress got its name from how it combined a blouse top and a skirt bottom into one dress. Blouses, called shirtwaists for most of the early 20th century, were buttoned up the front for a style that was easy to put on. They used to button at the back but that required help from a servant or willing husband, a luxury fewer had after WW1. Attaching the shirt top and skirt also made dresses easier to slip on and button up. No fuss dressing was the way of the 1940s.'
  • The current equivalent of 'bon appetit' (good appetite) in popular British eateries at the moment seems to be 'There you go!' (where?), or, in slightly more upmarket places 'Enjoy!' (I'm not sure if this is intended as a command.) Is there a North American version?
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