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 The Write Way

Friday 30 June 2000

Down Under!



Earlier this week, I had an email message from one of our members, commenting on the spelling of the word "judgement" in an email she'd received - and it reminded me of just how many differences there are in the ways we spell - and use words. So, here are a few random examples of different 'horses for courses' (I've relied on my own experience here, there are countless others).

In Australia (and NZ, UK and other places with British connections in the past - Canada seems to use a mix of both - I'd love to hear from Canadians), we spell these words as follows:

























In the US, the words are spelled/spelt like this:

























There is no 'right' way of spelling these words, just a 'different' way.

This shouldn't, however, undervalue the importance of accurate spelling - there are right ways (well, 'accepted' ways) of spelling - for a very good reason. Because standardised spelling aids communication.

This is why we write, after all, to communicate with other people and other times. And we need some method to ensure that everyone who reads what we've written comes away with - roughly - the same, intended meaning.

Spelling is also one of the ways we judge another person's general abilities, skills and professionalism - no, it's probably not fair ... but then neither is Life, so it's up to us to use the System for our own benefit, and if this means concentrating on spelling, then Honey, that's what you gotta do!

Gee - that feels better ...

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This week's quiz:

Column A contains the Australian/UK word, column B the US equivalent - fill in the blanks:

Australian term

US term

e.g. footpath






















Last week's quiz:

Match the words in the list with the definitions below:

Acetic, ascetic, effectual, efficacious, arrant, errant, urban, urbane, venial, venal

1. unprincipled - VENAL

2. wandering in search of adventure - ERRANT

3. excusable, pardonable - VENIAL

4. notorious - ARRANT

5. suave - URBANE

6. austere - ASCETIC

7. living in a city - URBAN

8. producing the desired effect - EFFICACIOUS

9. sour - ACETIC

10.answering its purpose - EFFECTUAL

While we're on the subject of differences, here are some that should give you a chuckle (if you're looking to while away a few minutes, visit this UK site here there are hundreds more!)

Buns. You know what these are. You're probably sitting on them now. Over here buns are either bread or cake rolls. Asking for a couple of sticky buns in a bakery here will mean Mr Crusty the baker will give you two cake buns with icing (frosting) on the top. If I went into a deli in Manhattan and asked for a couple of sticky buns I'd probably get arrested...

Football. A classic example of our culture gap. To us football is what you call soccer. To you football is what we call pointless. You probably think the same way about cricket...

Beer. What you call beer, we call lager. What we call beer, you call disgusting. This might be mutual.

Aluminium. Over here we say 'al-u-min-i-um'. You say 'aloom-i-num'. Neither nation can spell the word.... (Aluminiumiumium?)

Randy. In the US a perfectly reasonable first name. Pity then, the multitude of poor Americans given this unfortunate appellation when they come over to old Blighty. Wherever they go, grimy street urchins snigger, little old ladies try desperately to stifle guffaws and ordinarily quite sensible members of society burst out in laughter. And why? In the UK, saying 'Hi, I'm Randy!' is akin to saying to our American cousins 'Hello friend, I'm feeling horny.'

Aubergine. Frankly foul purple vegetable used in moussaka. You call them eggplants.

Soldiers. On both sides of the Atlantic, members of the military who run around shooting things. Also in the UK, soldiers are pieces of buttered toast or bread that you dip in your soft boiled egg at breakfast. Yum!

Rabbit. To you a small furry cute thing that might be a close relation of Bugs Bunny. Also in the UK to rabbit is talk incessantly about trivia. This meaning was immortalised by professional cockneys Chas & Dave in their song 'Rabbit' which was about a non-stop talker. It contains the line 'You've got more rabbit than Sainsbury's' (Sainsbury's is a supermarket chain.)

Having fun. The Americans will join in with anybody - even a complete stranger - if they look like they are enjoying themselves. The English would rather die than do this. At Disneyland, upon seeing Mickey Mouse, an American would bounce up to him and say 'Hey! It's Mickey Mouse! How are you Mickey? Hey look guys! Get a photo of me and Mickey!' even when he is with a group of adults. An Englishman would say 'Good grief man! It's a bloke in a silly costume - can't you see that?' and walk off. This is an example of the English sense of humour backfiring. The Englishman thinks he is being ironic. The Americans think he is a miserable sod.

Chaps. I have used this word many times before in the UK sense of the word - i.e. a chap is a good ol' boy or a much trusted male friend. The English also use the word 'bloke' to describe someone who is friendly and 'one of the lads' but not someone you know that well. Anyway, US chaps are leather leggings used for ranch work.

Tart. An open pie (in the UK) and a tartlet (in the US). Also in the UK, a tart is a woman of uncertain worth who might tart herself up (i.e. put make up on) before coming round for tea to eat tarts. By the way, tea is a meal as well as a drink in the UK. Tea is usually taken at about four o'clock in the afternoon.

(Note from me: in Australia, 'tea' is the non-flash, every-night-of-the-week evening meal, 'dinner' is when you have friends around.)

So ... now you know!

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Word of the week: Ergasiophobia n. Fear of, or aversion to, work; diffidence about tackling the job.
Another good word for using on sick-leave application forms. (Source )

Tautology of the week: He lives in a secluded, cloistered sanctuary - far away from the madding crowd.

Today is D-for-Doom-Day-Minus-1 out here in the Antipodes ... tomorrow we are thrust, screaming and kicking, into the Brave New World of the GST (Goods & Services Tax)... Those of you who already have a similar tax will commiserate - those fortunate enough to have thus far escaped, thank your lucky stars!

As a consequence, the marketing gurus have been working overtime - coming up with every possible variation on the theme of pre-GST sales. So this week's Latin phrase is dedicated to all those domestic tiffs around the nation:

Quantum illae stolae pependisti? (You paid how much for that dress?)










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