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Proof Americans and Brits speak a different language

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  • edited August 2021
    I was listening to a discussion of insurance today, mostly it focussed on travel. The English person said "cover" when we would say "coverage". "There is variable insurance coverage..." for me. It would never be cover. We would say what does the insurance cover, but the noun is coverage invariably. What do other places say?

    We might have discussed baking, and the proofing of yeast or loaves. I believe it is said proving in the UK. Is this correct?
  • You will hear females calling each other girlfriend. The closest you will hear males call each other is "Bro." It started out among African Americans but it is quite common among young adult males now. That, or boss--usually referring to an older male, not necessarily an employer.
  • Gramps49 wrote: »
    You will hear females calling each other girlfriend.
    I've heard this only with exaggerated inflection and teasingly.

    Buddy is the word I'd use for a male friend. My mate is my wife.
  • Sojourner wrote: »
    Indeed ; the “uck” teminds me of my saintly and irreverent maternal grandmother who described the (now) spouse as “ your defuckto”, bless her

    :smiley: Your grandmother sounds rather fun.
    fineline wrote: »
    People do sometimes interpret partner to mean outside of wedlock though, here in the UK,

    Yes, I know a number of people who take umbrage at "partner" in a similar way to your grandfather. Also some elderly women who take offense at anything other than "Mrs John Smith" (because "Mrs Jane Smith" implies a divorce). And, of course, a number of other women who take great offense at "Mrs John Smith". So I think "partner or spouse" is good for avoiding offense, even though you might think it technically redundant.

  • @Gramps49 You hear the same thing in South Africa. When I first arrived there I was a bit startled at the forwardness of the tote for a minibus-cab hailing a group of young women to see whether they wanted a ride, "Girlfirends! Seapoint?" (Seapoint being a district of Cape Town.) Similarly, men are addressed as "Bru/bra/bro" depending on their accent/linguistic heritage.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    And, of course, a number of other women who take great offense at "Mrs John Smith". So I think "partner or spouse" is good for avoiding offense, even though you might think it technically redundant.

    Just plain "partner" is enough here, as it includes "spouse".
  • mousethiefmousethief Deckhand, Styx
    Enoch wrote: »
    'Boyfriend' and 'girlfriend' here don't convey sharing of living accommodation or any sort of permanence.

    Nor do they here. They allow for that, but don't refer solely to such relationships.
  • But 'or spouse' is actually redundant in the way we use it in UK, as partner includes all types of couples relationships including spouses.
    This was in the 80s when partner wasn’t so common (though it was the norm in my HIV clinic in the 1990s). If I was still interviewing patients now it would just be partner.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    I was listening to a discussion of insurance today, mostly it focussed on travel. The English person said "cover" when we would say "coverage". "There is variable insurance coverage..." for me. It would never be cover. We would say what does the insurance cover, but the noun is coverage invariably. What do other places say?

    We might have discussed baking, and the proofing of yeast or loaves. I believe it is said proving in the UK. Is this correct?
    That's correct. I've never heard 'coverage' and the verb is 'prove' not 'proof'' here. It's following the standard rule about shifting the stress down the word when it's used as one.

    Thinking about this which I've never noticed before, and oddly, if 'proof' is tagged onto another word, e.g. 'waterproof' and that's then used as a verb, it remains 'waterproof'. Possibly the 'proof' bit is instinctively seen as remaining an attached adjective but I don't know and can't say.

  • 'Guv' for guv'nor (governor) used fo be common among taxi-drivers in London within living memory ('Where to, guv?) . Now seems to be confined to British police-procedural radio or TV crime series, used by junior detectves addressing immediate superiors.
  • Do you go on hikes, treks, tramps? We go on hikes. If it's aimless with no goal I might say we're going on a ramble.

    I might bring a knapsack with lunch in it. A backpack is a larger thing or for kids taking books etc to school. The ones shaped like sausages are duffels, smaller ones are gym bags regardless of what they hold.
  • I've been using 'do you have a partner or spouse' when clerking patients since the 80s, as I didn't want to presume marriage or the sex of their significant other.

    But 'or spouse' is actually redundant in the way we use it in UK, as partner includes all types of couples relationships including spouses.

    You have to be careful though - in my naval days (and not a million years ago either) we sent out a series of invitations to quite a high profile event, all copy signed off well in advance and designed to be as inclusive as possible.

    The first reply I got was (and this is burned on my brain even now) 'thankyou for your very kind invitation to what looks like it will be a wonderful event. However, as I don't have a partner, only my wife Lady X, I will be unable to attend.'
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Do you go on hikes, treks, tramps? We go on hikes. If it's aimless with no goal I might say we're going on a ramble.

    I might bring a knapsack with lunch in it. A backpack is a larger thing or for kids taking books etc to school. The ones shaped like sausages are duffels, smaller ones are gym bags regardless of what they hold.

    Walks. With a rucksack, which may be a daysack if it's small. Duffel bags are not backpacks. They're duffel bags.
  • Do you go on hikes, treks, tramps? We go on hikes. If it's aimless with no goal I might say we're going on a ramble.

    I might bring a knapsack with lunch in it. A backpack is a larger thing or for kids taking books etc to school. The ones shaped like sausages are duffels, smaller ones are gym bags regardless of what they hold.
    It’s a hike or a walk here. And I haven’t heard knapsack since I was a kid in the 60s and 70s. Folks here would generally carry a backpack or a gym sack/drawstring bag (like small backpack with drawstrings). “Backpack” here covers everything from a small bag to a school bag for books to a pack for hiking or camping.

  • Discussion on the proper use of Miss, Mrs, Ms, or Mx here.

    However, around my parts of the country, one seldom uses formal titles anyway. I worked for a little while at the University Parking Department. I never called my boss, Mrs. C---h (name obscured to protect the innocent). Her name was Becky which was interesting because we had three Beckys in shop.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    I went for a tramp in the park. But he got away.

    A hike is over open country with proper boots and a map.

    A trek is getting the wagons/oxen/ragged remnant/orphans across the plains/mountains before winter/the rains/the pursuing army catches up with you.

    A ramble is a group, in cagoules with packs of sandwiches.

    A walk is a largely purposeless circuit of between one and five miles.

    A dander is much the same, but a lot shorter and with conversation.
  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    And I haven’t heard knapsack since I was a kid in the 60s and 70s.

    "Knapsack" is the kind of word my mother uses, and I'm pretty sure she used it last time we had a conversation about her going walking somewhere, which would have been a few months ago.

    I often hear "daypack" for a small backpack used to hold the day's essentials, as opposed to a "backpack" which would also hold your tent, sleeping bag, food, and so on. But used by itself, backpack includes small daypacks and school bags, as you say.

    I've seen people take drawstring bags with them on walks. I'd assume those people aren't walking very far, or carrying much weight, because using the strings as a strap becomes rather uncomfortable after a while.

    But I'm not sure I know what the item that @NOprophet_NØprofit describes is - the "knapsack" that is too small to carry some school books, but might contain a lunch. Are you describing a bag with one or two shoulder straps, or something handheld, or what?

  • Enoch wrote: »
    Thinking about this which I've never noticed before, and oddly, if 'proof' is tagged onto another word, e.g. 'waterproof' and that's then used as a verb, it remains 'waterproof'. Possibly the 'proof' bit is instinctively seen as remaining an attached adjective but I don't know and can't say.

    I think you can keep the adjective "proof" as "proof" even if you verb it. You might, if you have to, talk about a proofreader "proofing" a copy: I don't think you'd say that they proved it.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    I think the only place I've ever heard 'knapsack' was in a 'jollyish' sort of song that used to be played on things like Children's Favourites 65+ years ago. It included the line
    "My knapsack on my back"
    I still use the words 'rucksack' to mean a backpack and 'haversack' to mean a small bag, likely to be khaki, that has a strap a bit like a satchel worn over one shoulder and is suitable to put sandwiches and a notebook in. However, I think a lot of people would regard both words as old-fashioned and about as uncool as skiffle.

    These days some people have taken to referring to haversacks derogatively as 'manbags'.

    I agree with @Firenze on the use of various words meaning different sorts of walks.

  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    I had a discussion on facebook about walk v hike, in the UK and in North America, and there was no consensus among anyone! North Americans were all saying different things about precisely what they consider a hike to be. I was trying to work out if my two-hour walk through the woods would be a hike in North American terminology, and no one could agree - they all had different criteria.

    I use 'backpack' and 'rucksack' interchangeably, I have several of different sizes, and I take one with me wherever I go, whether to Asda, to work, to the gym, or to go swimming in the sea. It's handy for carrying stuff in general, as I don't have a car.
  • But backpack and rucksack are interchangeable because they are the same thing, just using the German words for rucksack. I carry a backpack. If I'm carrying the big 30 litre back pack with internal frame, I'm usually away for a few days and there's a day sack tucked inside to go shopping, very occasionally out for the day. But I have smaller backpacks, with different frames or no frame for a day or weekend's walking.


    I walk. I'd possibly describe one of the long distance footpaths, such as the Pennine Way which is around 270 miles, as a trek, but it would be in the form of "Well, the Pennine Way was a bit of a trek; it took us three weeks." But I wouldn't be planning to go on a trek, I'd be planning to walk one of the long distance footpaths or going on a walking holiday. I also could say that walking over to the next town over, which is around 7 miles away, is a bit of a hike, but wouldn't say I was going for a hike. Prices get hiked up here.

    I'd agree about proofing copy before printing, and proving dough.
  • But backpack and rucksack are interchangeable because they are the same thing, just using the German words for rucksack.

    Isn't that like saying "shirt" and "skirt" are interchangeable, because they're the same word?

    I think they are interchangeable - I don't think rucksack implies either a 60+ litre hiking backpack, or a small 10 litre daypack: but I don't think they're interchangeable because they're the same word.

    I don't think I've heard rucksack in the US, but I think it's more common than backpack in the UK.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Yes, words meaning literally the same thing etymologically doesn't necessarily mean they have the same meaning or connotation in current usage. I said I use the terms interchangeably because I was aware that this may not be the case for everyone else. When I was in Canada, for instance, the general term used was 'backpack,' and people had different, more specific, connotations for 'rucksack' - something much bigger, to go camping with. Equally, I'd never previously used the term 'backpack' before I went to Canada- I'd only heard 'rucksack' in the UK.
  • I use rucksack for any bag carried on the back, from my son’s school bag to the larger bag used for what is known as hiking.
    I usually describe hiking as walking, in personal use, even if it’s several miles in proper boots. I would never use ramble for walk, it would be a dated term for a hike in the UK. I’d use ‘rambling on’ for talking endlessly though.
  • But backpack and rucksack are interchangeable because they are the same thing, just using the German words for rucksack.

    Isn't that like saying "shirt" and "skirt" are interchangeable, because they're the same word?

    I think they are interchangeable - I don't think rucksack implies either a 60+ litre hiking backpack, or a small 10 litre daypack: but I don't think they're interchangeable because they're the same word.

    I don't think I've heard rucksack in the US, but I think it's more common than backpack in the UK.
    This amuses me, because I've just looked it up online using Google, which is apparently based on Oxford Languages, and found:
    Rucksack -
    a bag with shoulder straps which allow it to be carried on someone's back, typically made of a strong, waterproof material and widely used by hikers.
    Backpack
    a rucksack.

    Which is how I understand them, I just tend to prefer backpack in that context.
  • But I'm not sure I know what the item that @NOprophet_NØprofit describes is - the "knapsack" that is too small to carry some school books, but might contain a lunch. Are you describing a bag with one or two shoulder straps, or something handheld, or what?
    I picture my father’s WWII Army knapsack, which was smaller/flatter than a typical modern school backpack, but which I did indeed use for my school books in 4th grade—before school backpacks were a thing.

    Enoch wrote: »
    I think the only place I've ever heard 'knapsack' was in a 'jollyish' sort of song that used to be played on things like Children's Favourites 65+ years ago. It included the line:
    "My knapsack on my back"
    That song would be “The Happy Wanderer.”

  • What would a mooch mean then? In relation to intentionally walking somewhere.

    For me anyway that is a kinda aimless wondering about
  • Ethne Alba wrote: »
    What would a mooch mean then? In relation to intentionally walking somewhere.

    For me anyway that is a kinda aimless wondering about

    Mooching is primarily intended to occupy time. I might mooch about the shops for a bit if I wasn't looking for anything in particular, and had some time to kill before my bus / my kid had finished what they were doing / whatever.

    Wandering is similarly lacking in general direction, but doesn't carry the same time-filling implications.

    Traipsing would involve a subjectively large amount of walking on a non-preferred activity. When I was a child, accompanying my mother on a shopping trip would definitely be a traipse.
  • I use rucksack for any bag carried on the back, from my son’s school bag to the larger bag used for what is known as hiking.
    I usually describe hiking as walking, in personal use, even if it’s several miles in proper boots. I would never use ramble for walk, it would be a dated term for a hike in the UK. I’d use ‘rambling on’ for talking endlessly though.

    Thanks to time in the forces, if your bag is carrying a lot of stuff and you’re on a hike, to me that’s a Bergen.
  • betjemaniacbetjemaniac Shipmate
    edited August 2021
    Although ‘Jackspeak’ is a whole other language and book - occasionally even now (16 years after leaving) I can say something at work or to my wife without thinking and realise that they’ve no idea what I’m talking about.

    It’s not blinding people with technical speak, as you might expect, so much as entirely different words for the most everyday things and concepts:

    Butter = slide
    Soft drink = goffa
    Shoes = swifties
    Bin = spitkid
    Tea = wet
    Etc
  • Ethne Alba wrote: »
    What would a mooch mean then? In relation to intentionally walking somewhere.

    For me anyway that is a kinda aimless wondering about

    Mooching is primarily intended to occupy time. I might mooch about the shops for a bit if I wasn't looking for anything in particular, and had some time to kill before my bus / my kid had finished what they were doing / whatever.
    Interesting. I’ve never heard “mooch” used in reference to walking. To this North American, “mooch” means to beg or sponge off another person, or to freeload.

  • mousethiefmousethief Deckhand, Styx
    I haven't used "knapsack" since we sang Valderi Valdera in 4th grade.
  • Penny SPenny S Shipmate
    I was thinking only a few weeks back that I haven't seen a duffel bag in decades.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus

    Thanks to time in the forces, if your bag is carrying a lot of stuff and you’re on a hike, to me that’s a Bergen.

    One of the many scientific meetings to which I accompanied Mr F (we were there for the 2nd longest period of rainless days on record!) was in Bergen. There was - there always is - a Conference Bag. Normally this is a satchel of some sort - but this was a proper little Day Out rucksack, with a map pocket and a section to hold your thermos and room for your sandwiches and spare socks.
  • @betjemaniac your post amused me as my big pack is a Bergen and I loved my Bergen boots until they wore out. I also know and use about half that slang, but I guess that might be the ongoing effects of having a father who attended Dartmouth as a cadet and served for a while.
  • Satchel? Surely that was for putting school books in?
    Although mine ( or my sister’s to be accurate) has the gift wrap in it.
  • Knapsack is the same as a daypack for me. Small, 2 shoulder straps. Backpack is bigger. Duffels have one shoulder strap. I've not heard rucksack for 40 years.

    A walk isn't generally a hike. You'd put on better shoes for a hike. A walk may not be to a destination. A hike most probably is.
  • orfeoorfeo Suspended
    Enoch wrote: »
    Rant warning:

    It's a usage that really annoys me. As a retired lawyer, 'partner' to me means something totally different, which has a lot to do with liability and nothing to do with sex, affection or romance.

    ...what, you mean like how marriage is a contract?

  • mousethiefmousethief Deckhand, Styx
    The association of marriage with affection and romance is very recent in human history. Whereas people have been getting screwed by their business partners for time out of mind.
  • Really? What about Jacob and Rachel? Mind you she didn’t come cheap.
  • Rucksacks etc. Much of the hiking/rambling culture of the inter-war years was imported from Germany. (Youth Hostels were an imitation of the Jugendherberge. Back' in German is 'Rucken', so a rucksack would be , literally, a back-sack, frobably a bit larger than a 'knapsack', the older English term, which would carry your 'knap', or bite to eat when working out of doors, slung on your back. A haversack I would think of as slung over one shoulder. A bergen would be a more serious affair, with a frame.
    My parents were keen walkers, who met through their local hiking club.
    A hike is typically a day-l0ng walk, with some objective. A stroll would be a gently meander. A Trek, which came in after WWII, would be a more serious affair, perhaps involving tents, or ponies.
  • I should add that, as British shipmates would know, there's quite a bit of social history bound up in all this.
  • SparrowSparrow Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    “Girlfriend” is very commonly used in the US by females to refer to close female friends, and has been used that way for a long time. I’ve never heard “boyfriend” used by a male in the same way, though.

    That would be "mate".
  • Depends on the male, I guess
  • British shipmates may wish to chip in: is the expression “china (plate)= mate ever used these daus, within or without the sound of Bow Bells?
  • I think I’ve only heard ‘my old China’ from older working class males in London, market stall holders for instance, and that was a few years ago (I lived in Bethnal Green in the 1990s). I suspect it has fallen into disuse and that it’s ones of those cliched expressions that very few people used anyway. I think Delboy uses it in Only Fools and Horses. Happy to be corrected by those currently living in London though.
  • Cliche? cockney rhyming slang?

    Only 30 years ago while in general practice In far-western Sydney I met a young English-born but Oz raised woman whose presenting complaint was “ pain in the Khyber”

    Diagnosis: thrombosed harmorrhoid

    Cliche? I still wonder
  • China gets used a lot in crossword clues meaning pal or mate. I haven't hetd it recently but I haven't been anywhere to hear it for while.
  • Must have first encountered the expression when I read “ Borstal Boy” ( Brendan Behan’s account of a spell in an English Borstal in the 1940s after he was done in as an under age IRA gun runner) ; a term used by his Cockney petty crim mates). Took me a while to catch on.
  • Having seen this discussion I went to the London Olympic Park for a walk on dry non-skiddy surfaces, where I've just seen a stall in the what's now the Queen Elizabeth Park for people to invent their own Cockney words as an activity among many arts and crafts.

    When sociologists look at dialects, Cockney comes up as one of the most endangered English dialects (link to BBC story referencing research). The problem is that the areas where the traditional cockneys were found, the East End of London, is no longer inhabited by Cockneys, it's full of Jamaicans, Somalis, Bangladeshis, East Europeans. Brick Lane, the famous road from the book and the curry houses, is off Bethnal Green Road. Stratford, which was in that traditional Cockney area, neighbouring Bow, well within in the sound of Bow Bells, is now hugely gentrified by the Olympic redevelopment, along with Hackney Wick. Not that there wasn't a lot of derelict industry and polluted waterways where that park was redeveloped.

    And the Docklands, another Cockney area has been redeveloped into the Docklands Business area and is hugely yuppified. What's left of the Cockney community is in small scattered groups. I've met some working in that area. One of the families I worked with was connected to the Krays, attended the funerals, had family scattered across the area. But the mother I knew had children by different West Indian fathers.

    The East End was badly bombed during WW2 and the inhabitants were rehoused in the new towns around London - Romford, Barking, Dagenham and Harlow are where many of the traditional Cockneys were relocated, in small pockets, not big enough to keep the dialect alive. I met more Cockneys working Dagenham than I did in the East End. The Cockney families in Harlow lost their roots when they moved, or had two generations later when I worked with the children in school.

    Whitechapel market is where to find Bangladeshi foods and clothes, the library serves Malaysian food as does the one on the Roman Road (also East End), there are pockets of traditional Cockneys, but they are isolated in the multicultural melting pot which is that area. Whitechapel has been where wave after wave of immigrants have landed up, it was a Jewish area after the pogroms meant that Britain took refugees from across Europe. It now has the most amazing mosque.
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