Tag: British English

Video: ‘enquire’ or ‘inquire’?

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UNESCO logo on longest mosaic wall in the world.

Infographic: endangered languages around the world

International Mother Language Day was first announced by UNESCO in 1999 to ‘promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world’. It has, since then, been observed every year on 21 February. For this occasion, we have created an infographic about endangered languages around the globe, with particular focus on […]

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blurry british flag

Quiz: British phrases to confuse Americans

If you’ve watched non-Americans get confused while trying our recent ‘American phrases to confuse Brits‘ quiz, now it’s time to turn the tables. Even Anglophiles might struggle with some of the more unusual or idiomatic expressions Brits use in everyday life – particularly those with obscure origins. Pleased with your score? Disappointed? Why not have […]

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hockey

OED appeals: can you help us find earlier evidence of the phrase jolly hockey sticks?

Can you help us? OED Appeals is a dedicated community space on the OED website where OED editors solicit help in unearthing new information about the history and usage of English. Part of the process of revising words and phrases for the OED involves searching for evidence of a word’s first recorded use in English, […]

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How good is your British English?

How good is your British English?

If you’re an English speaker and have spent any time in an English-speaking country not your own, you know how different the language can be. Sometimes the differences are slight – for example, the stress on different syllables of weekend between British and American English (wiːkˈɛnd vs. ‘wēkˌend, respectively) – but sometimes the differences are […]

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dinner

Talking proper: the language of U and Non-U

The release of The Riot Club, a fictionalized version of the Oxford University Bullingdon Club, based on Laura Wade’s 2010 play Posh, seems a fitting moment to consider how to talk posh. In 1954 the linguist Alan C. Ross published a study of ‘Linguistic Class-Indicators in Present-day English’, which first introduced the concept of ‘U’ […]

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A Brit in America struggles with understanding and being understood.

The linguistic confusion of a Brit in America

When you’re a Brit living in the United States, as I am, sooner or later – and it’s usually sooner, even if you’re trying hard to fit in – you’ll end up using a word or phrase that your interlocutor just doesn’t understand. Everyone knows the obvious pitfalls, and they’re constant causes of amusement or […]

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American cookies or English biscuits? (Or both?)

Biscuit or cookie?

“England and America are two countries divided by a common language.” So said George Bernard Shaw (allegedly). Much has been written about words that are chiefly used in one country or the other (for example, eggplant in the US and aubergine in the UK), but there are also words that exist in both countries but […]

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