英語汁 / Eigo-jiru

British English vs American English《Eigo-jiru vol.1》

Hello! It’s konkaz (@konkazuk) here.


In this article, we are going to have a look at the differences between British English and American English, particularly focusing on variations in vocabulary. (By the way, you might find this article slightly Anglophilia…but that’s because I am based in London,)


Now, for those considering a future career involving English communication, it might be effective to memorize vocabulary by determining whether you’ll be dealing with British or American English.

At the end of the day, you’ll need to learn both British and American English, but initially, focusing on the one you’ll actually use in spoken communication is much more practical.


Well, let’s have a look, anyway.

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The difference in vocabularies between British English and American English


For now, I’ve casually lined up the differences.

There are sure to be some interesting discoveries. ✨

Eggplant? Courgette???


Well, let’s start with vegetables…

I’ve never lived in the United States, therefore I’m not familiar with American English, however, in the UK, calling ‘nasu‘ ‘eggplant‘ wouldn’t likely be understood.

nasu‘ is called ‘aubergine [əʊbəʒiːn] here in the UK.



Let’s check out another vegetable.


What we call ‘zucchini’ in Japan is one of the popular vegetables that you can easily find in supermarkets and groceries in England.

but over here,

it is called ‘courgette[ kɔːˈʒet]


The word ‘zucchini’ is not common here in England.


zukkini


courgette 🇬🇧  zucchini 🇺🇸 


nasu


aubergine 🇬🇧  eggplant 🇺🇸

Potato chips

image by mustafa bashari


Next, let’s go through ‘potato chips‘ and ‘Frech fries

If you’ve recently come to the UK, it might take a little time to get used to these two. w

A bag of crispy potato snack called potato chipsis called ‘crisps‘ here in England, and French frieswhich you eat in McDonald’s are called ‘chips‘ over here.



potato chips

crisps 🇬🇧  potato chips 🇺🇸  

French fries

chips 🇬🇧  French fries 🇺🇸 

Elevator

image by waldemar

This American-English vocabulary ‘elevator’ is commonly used in Japan.

Although the word can be recognised by British people, you don’t really hear it from their mouth.

lift‘ is the equivalent word of ‘elevator‘ in the UK.



elevator

lift🇬🇧   elevator 🇺🇸   

Chikatetsu

image by Pau Casals

As for ‘chikatetsu‘, different words are applied between British English and American English.

In American English, the term ‘subway‘ is equivalent to the Japanese word ‘chikatetsu,’ while here in Britain, ‘tube‘ or ‘underground‘ is used instead.



When I was in Japan, I personally believed that the English word for ‘chikatetsu’ was ‘metro.’

However, it turns out that ‘metro’ is not specifically British or American.(Strictly speaking, it originated from London’s Metropolitan line though.)


The word for ‘underground’ is also ‘metro,’ and it is used internationally, including in France, Japan, and Egypt.



chikatetsu


tube 🇬🇧  subway 🇺🇸

takeout

image by Emmy Smith

I guess American English ‘takeout‘ is commonly used in Japan.

British version of ‘takeout’ is ‘takeaway‘!



omochikaeri


takeaway 🇬🇧 takeout 🇺🇸

Off-license

image by Andreas-M

This vocabulary is characteristic of British-English.

An American English, ‘liquor store‘ (by the way, that was the name of the last band I was in!) sounds straightforward, but British English ‘off-license‘ might make people go, “Huh? What’s that?”



The name derives from…

If the license is “on”, it means ’You are permitted to have a drink.
So it implies the places like “pubs” and “bars”.
On the contrary, if the license is “off”, it means “You are not permitted to have a drink.” Hence, even though the alcoholic drinks are sold in the shop, they are not allowed to be consumed in the premise. You are to have it elsewhere.



In a nutshell, it’s about the license to have a drink in the premise.

Off-license generally sells variety of things from packets of snacks to toilet rolls other than alcoholic drinks.


off-license


off-license 🇬🇧  liquor store 🇺🇸 

traffic system

image by Erwan Hesry

Since I do not drive myself, I feel unrelated to the vocabularies of this area.

However I watch news from time to time, and when I hear an American-English vocabulary “gas” instead of a familiar word “petrol”, and sometimes it takes some time for me to figure out what it is…


Incidentally, I had regarded the word “Main Street” as a British-English vocabulary till recently, because there is this cool album called “Exile On Main St.” recorded by The Rolling Stones! w



auto-by


motorbike 🇬🇧  motorcycle 🇺🇸 


kousoku-douro


motorway 🇬🇧   highway 🇺🇸 


main-douri


high street 🇬🇧 main street 🇺🇸


gasoline


petrol 🇬🇧  gas 🇺🇸


hikouki


aeroplane 🇬🇧  airplane 🇺🇸

shopping, etc???

image by charlesdeluvio

Apologies for categorizing the following six vocabularies roughly as “shopping”. w


Calling “trousers” as “pants” is very American, I presume…

Anyway, whether you call them “trousers” or “pants”,

you need to start with “a pair of”…like “a pair of trousers” or “a pair of pants


just like when you call scissors as “a pair of scissors“.



“Queue” is a very British vocabulary.

(👉 Attention!!! It is pronounced as [kjuː])

Because the spelling of the word is so different from its pronunciation, I have memorized it as “ku-e-u-e”… It sounds appalling, doesn’t it?



Using the word “bill” for paper currency is kind of weird to me because I am so used to the British vocabulary “note“…

The word “bill” is used for many things but the first thing that comes up in my head is paying your bill in a restaurant… We say “bill please?” with crossing our fingers, don’t we?



zubon


trousers 🇬🇧  pants 🇺🇸


undo-gutsu 


trainers 🇬🇧 sneakers 🇺🇸 


yo-fuku dansu


wardrobe 🇬🇧  closet 🇺🇸


retsu


queue 🇬🇧  line 🇺🇸 


ten-in


shop assistant 🇬🇧    salesclerk 🇺🇸


shihei


note 🇬🇧   bill 🇺🇸

office sorts…

image by Rob Hampson

Office sorts… umm… w

Apologies again for being terrible for categorization!
(But honestly, I couldn’t find any simpler way of classifying all these miscellaneous words.)


I suppose “cell phone” is a familiar equivalent English word of “Keitai denwa” ? (I’d never had one while I was in Japan… w)

In England, it is called “mobile phone“, or simply “mobile




Japanese vocabulary “gomi” is called “rubbish” in England”.

And also, insignificant opinions or unfunny jokes are called “rubbish“, too.

Incidentally, “gomi-bako” is called “rubbish bin” or simply “bin” in England, while “trash can” is commonly used with American-English.



One of the “rubbish-related” words that often fails to come up in English, is “chiri-tori“!!!

umm… how was it called???


Well, let’s nail it this time!


“Chiri-tori” is called “dustpan” in English.

Just imagine the shape of “frying pan” and you will get it from next time!



Regarding an English equivalent word of “kyuu-ryou“, “salary” must be the one that is familiar to us Japanese due to the Katakana word “salary-man”.

wage” is a British equivalent word of “kyuu-ryou“.




keitai denwa

mobile phone 🇬🇧   cell phone 🇺🇸


keshi-gomu

rubber 🇬🇧  eraser 🇺🇸       

gomi

rubbish 🇬🇧  garbage/trash 🇺🇸

kyuuka

holiday 🇬🇧 vacation 🇺🇸

syuku-jitsu

bank holiday 🇬🇧 public holiday 🇺🇸  

kyuu-ryou

wage 🇬🇧  salary 🇺🇸   

life sorts…

image by Paul Nylund

There is this notable difference in calling stories between British-English and American-English.

In England, ground level is regarded as “zero”, hence the 2nd floor of a building with American-English is equivalent to the 1st floor with British-English.


UK
ground floor, 1st floor, 2nd floor, 3rd floor…

USA 
1st floor, 2nd floor, 3rd floor, 4th floor… 


The word “guy” sounds somewhat neutral to me, while equivalent British word sounds more brutal. (…just a personal impression)

A word “bloke” is commonly used in England.




soccer” is a national sport in England, but you don’t hear the word from natives.
(You only hear it from foreigner’s mouth.)

football” is the one!




apart

flat 🇬🇧  apartment 🇺🇸

ikkai (1st floor)

ground floor 🇬🇧  1st floor 🇺🇸

ban-sou-kou

plaster 🇬🇧   band-aid 🇺🇸

yakkyoku

pharmacy 🇬🇧  drugstore 🇺🇸

syou-gakkou

primary school 🇬🇧 elementary school 🇺🇸

cookie

biscuit 🇬🇧  cookie 🇺🇸

otoko (yarrou)

bloke 🇬🇧  guy 🇺🇸        

soccer

football 🇬🇧  soccer 🇺🇸

post sorts…

image by Grooveland-Designs

There are only two here… ha ha ha

It’s good to know that British English “post code” is known as “zip code” in America.


By the way, (it is not quite related to the subject here, but…) there was this occasion that my wife had to send a parcel to Hong Kong, and after a bit of struggle to find out its post code, we found this shocking truth that there was no post code in Hong Kong!

yuubin

post 🇬🇧  mail 🇺🇸

yuubin-bangou 

post code 🇬🇧  zip code 🇺🇸

season

image by Peggychoucair

“Autumn Leaves” is a jazz standard song…

The tune is in an album called “Somethin’ Else” performed by Cannonball Adderley and Miles Davis, etc. and it’s very popular.

But my personal favourite is the version performed by Barney Kessel (guitarist).

aki

autumn 🇬🇧   fall 🇺🇸          

something to carry… w

image by Nick Fewings

Umm… it’s an air travel…

tenimotsu

luggage 🇬🇧  baggage 🇺🇸 



Well, this is it.

Having looked through all these vocabularies, I see most of Japanese “Katakana (loan word)”s are American English…

 I had never actually heard any of these words “takeaway”, “petrol”, “tube” and “wage”, while I was in Japan.

Anyway, there must be lots more, but these are the ones I can think of at this moment…



pronunciation

image by sigmund

While I’m living in England, I occasionally come across those people who tell me the fact that they are not really fond of American English accent… 

Well, if you were born or have lived in one place for a while, I presume what you normally deal with will become “your standard”, and some kind of local folk guts will be built in your head without realizing it?

In my case, I don’t really care about the difference between British English and American English, however I am a bit allergic to some particular area of American accent, to be honest.  

(oops, hope I am not creating any enemies…)


Anyway, they are the sound of to and er, or ter and tor, which are the bold part of…

Water, Elevator, Calculator, and Tomato.


For instance, in Britain, “water” is pronounced as…

[wɔːtə] 

or you often hear youngsters pronouncing it without “t”, like…

 [wɔːə]


However, with American accent, it is pronounced as… 

[wɑɾɚ] 

It sounds like bridging the “t” sound…



When I hear the phrase like “See you later, alligator!” with American accent, my brain starts to melt…


That flap T sound between two vowels plus finishing with very strong R gives me an impression of…

something very commanding! 

 and it makes me feel like… as if I had been shot by tranquilizing gun…

ahh…

I don’t know the cause of this… it’s something I cannot explain…

(I can’t wear polyester shirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrts!!)

Although you might catch young generations talking with omitting the letter “t” from the words , “t” sound is generally pronounced clearly with British English.



Linguistically, English is pretty much different from Japanese in many ways, however I find a sort of familiarity in British English’s characteristic of pronouncing the “t” sound clearly, knowing the fact that the “t” sound of English pronunciation is “unvoiced”, and it doesn’t really match up with Japanese Katakana sound (ta, chi, tsu, te, to)…

Like “watashi” (= I ) or “Kitani” (=dirty)…

Well, it’s just a very personal impression…





Anyway, this is it with this blog post…

Hope you have found it helpful…


See ya.

konkaz

👉 *Japanese version of this blog post

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