“You Ain’t S**t!”

I had a strange experience recently on, I believe, Facebook. It might have been Twitter, but I think it was Facebook. Having a cursory pass through my newsfeed, something caught my eye. It was a headline for a fairly typical slightly clickbaity article. It featured a young woman, presumably a model or actress, standing next to a billboard on which she featured. The headline was a quote from her, something like this:

Continue reading

Boot or Trunk? Hood or Bonnet?

One of the strangest areas of difference between British and American English is that of cars. In many ways, the general differences between words in both main forms of English are small and superficial. Things like removing a U from a word like colour, or swapping an R and an E around at the end of a word. Other differences are based on old uses and forms of words, and are understandably caused by 200 years or so of drift. And there’s sports.

But cars are such a relatively new invention that it always seemed strange to me that American and British English would have such different words to refer to their different parts. Specifically why a boot in British English is a trunk in American English, and a bonnet is a hood.

Continue reading

Ill-Gotten Gains

One of those little indications of the difference between American and British English is the verb to get. In American (and Canadian) English its past-simple form is got (I got a new car yesterday), and the past participle is gotten (I’ve gotten better at grammar). In British English, got is used for both forms (I’ve got better at grammar). One exception is using have got to refer to possession, (I’ve got three kids). As this structure is the present perfect simple, strictly it should be I’ve gotten three kids, but that would sound like you’ve bought some kids, and might buy some more. Plus, the real meaning of I’ve got… in this context is a present simple meaning, despite using the present perfect simple, so demanding that one stick to the normal structure of the present perfect simple would be a bit silly. Continue reading