Proof Americans and Brits speak a different language

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  • We saw a dozen deer grazing in the middle of a wheat field while we were out walking last night and did describe them as a proper herd.

    One of the words for quantity that's lapsed and could be the origin of the use of bunch is bushel
  • TheOrganistTheOrganist Shipmate
    But bushel is a volume measurement for thing like peas.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    But bushel is a volume measurement for thing like peas.
    Quite. When I was a child, it was in one of the tables that were printed on the back of exercise books.

    @Curiosity killed that's quite interesting. Do you know which sort of deer? Round here, the ones you're very likely to see in fields are Roe Deer, but not usually as many as a dozen together. They're quite small and more usually in groups of 2-5. But in different parts of the country, different species seem to be more prevalent.

  • I've spotted two differences recently.

    Moot. In the UK it means "debatable", in the USA "irrelevant". On this occasion I'm guessing the UK version is the original meaning, as I can see the change going in that direction more easily than the other.

    Quotation marks. In the UK if someone is speaking for more than one paragraph, each new paragraph begins with quotation marks. In the USA these seem to be omitted (which looks really weird to me, but I'm presuming is correct).
  • We get fallow and muntjac deer hereabouts. These were fallow (link to British Deer Society site), like the picture at the top of the page linked, not much in the way of antlers to be seen, but that's the time of year. One of the group was very dark, melanistic, and stood out in the herd. But apparently those dark variants are common locally and there is a deer sanctuary to conserve them. One of the joys of cycling home from work in the dark was occasionally coming across a herd of deer wanting to cross a road on my path, becoming aware of the gleam of many eyes and the sound of breathing next to my ear, rustling in the hedge as I moved past.

    I do see and hear muntjac (link to information), but I have never seen more than one.

    I used to live in Dorset and regularly saw (and ate) roe deer there, but haven't seen any consciously around here, although they are supposed to be countrywide.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    I've spotted two differences recently.

    Moot. In the UK it means "debatable", in the USA "irrelevant". On this occasion I'm guessing the UK version is the original meaning, as I can see the change going in that direction more easily than the other.

    Quotation marks. In the UK if someone is speaking for more than one paragraph, each new paragraph begins with quotation marks. In the USA these seem to be omitted (which looks really weird to me, but I'm presuming is correct).

    Moot was originally an assembly held for debate or a mock trial of an issue or person. Both meanings derive from that.

    Personally, in my idiolect, I would distinguish ‘moot’=debatable from ‘merely/purely moot’=having no practical implications.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Moot. In the UK it means "debatable", in the USA "irrelevant". On this occasion I'm guessing the UK version is the original meaning, as I can see the change going in that direction more easily than the other.
    Not quite “irrelevant.” More like “having lost any practical significance it may have had.” If a question or issue is or has become “moot,” it means that the answer has somehow been rendered unnecessary except as a purely speculative matter. So the question of whether younger child can have more pie becomes moot if it turns out older child has already finished the pie. We can debate it or argue about it, but the resolution of that debate only has abstract significance because the pie is gone. At least, that’s how lawyers use it.

    The older sense of “argue” or “debate” survives in terms like “moot the issue” or “moot court.”

    Quotation marks. In the UK if someone is speaking for more than one paragraph, each new paragraph begins with quotation marks. In the USA these seem to be omitted (which looks really weird to me, but I'm presuming is correct).
    I never see quotation marks at the beginning of each new paragraph omitted, at least not that I can recall. I was taught that for multi-paragraph quotes, quotation marks should be used at the beginning of each paragraph, but only at the end of the last paragraph.

  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Quotation marks. In the UK if someone is speaking for more than one paragraph, each new paragraph begins with quotation marks. In the USA these seem to be omitted (which looks really weird to me, but I'm presuming is correct).

    That used be the practice here, at least in a fairly formal document. I can't remember the last time I saw it done, certainly not yesterday.
  • @Nick Tamen: "I never see quotation marks at the beginning of each new paragraph omitted, at least not that I can recall. I was taught that for multi-paragraph quotes, quotation marks should be used at the beginning of each paragraph, but only at the end of the last paragraph."

    One of my reasons for raising this is that I've seen it a lot, but only in bad fiction. So it could easily be incorrect by American standards too.

    @Gee D, without knowing where "here" is for you, your comment doesn't help me much, I'm afraid.
  • SparrowSparrow Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    But bushel is a volume measurement for thing like peas.
    Quite. When I was a child, it was in one of the tables that were printed on the back of exercise books.

    I remember those tables! They had all the old distance measurements like rod, pole and perch, and furlong. Which is still used of course in horse racing.


  • SparrowSparrow Shipmate
    They don't so much fly as plummet.

    That's sheep isn't it?
  • In American usage, you do use " marks at the beginning of each new paragraph of the same person's long speech. The final paragraph also ends with ".

    However (and this is a big however, that might have caused what you saw), if the whole quotation is being treated as a block quote by the publisher, it gets no "" whatsoever. The extra-wide indentation and occasional extra treatment (different font, different spacing, colored background, whatever) are considered enough to let you know that the whole thing is a continuation of that person's speech. This also applies to quoted material from another written source.

    The cut-off point for where we treat something as a block quote (as opposed to using "" and no special treatment) is usually about 5 lines of text, though each publisher will have its own guidelines. On rare occasions you'll have a single block quote treatment for a whole bunch of mini-quotations in a row, such as 7 short Bible verses, or 10 short survey responses from different people.

    I don't think I've ever seen block quotes used in fiction. They are usually in nonfiction, especially of the sociological or "let's quote the Bible" type. It's a publisher's choice thing, what we call "house style."
  • Sparrow wrote: »
    Enoch wrote: »
    But bushel is a volume measurement for thing like peas.
    Quite. When I was a child, it was in one of the tables that were printed on the back of exercise books.

    I remember those tables! They had all the old distance measurements like rod, pole and perch, and furlong. Which is still used of course in horse racing.

    I had to learn them all and to do sums using them. This was not normal, it was my headteacher/class teacher giving me extension work, as decimalisation came in and although we did learn to use and manipulate sums in £sd, it was known it wasn't going to be around for much longer. Also all the times tables to 20x which were far more useful and of which I retain far more.

    Allotments are measured in rods, which if I remember correctly are the same length as a pole or perch. And cricket pitches are measured in chains. (I had to go and check to find that a rod is 16½ ft and a chain is 22ft). I do remember 8 furlongs to a mile and a nice round number of chains (30) to a furlong. So I don't bother remembering the number of yards to a furlong, just divide from a mile. I have lost all volume measures in the mists of time.

    This little mnemonic is less useful than it once was:
    1760 yards to a mile, George the Third said with a smile
    his reign being from 1760 to 1820
  • One of the words for quantity that's lapsed and could be the origin of the use of bunch is bushel

    A colleague was telling me only the other day how many bushels of apples he usually gets from his trees. A pick-your-own apple orchard near us sells apples by the peck.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    @Gee D, without knowing where "here" is for you, your comment doesn't help me much, I'm afraid.
    @Gee D is in Australia. (Sydney, I think.)

  • Many thanks @Lamb Chopped for your information, which I'm not going to quote again. What I've seen is characters in novels talking for several paragraphs, without quotation marks or any of the other details you describe. However, these are badly written novels, and I'm reading them on Kindle. I suspect the former is more relevant than the latter. (The last time I saw this, the same book used "of" rather than "have".)
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    @Curiosity killed chains were actual chains, of a standard length, divided into links of a standard size. They were not just used for measuring. It was also possible to mark out right angles, as for a football pitch, with them.

  • TheOrganistTheOrganist Shipmate
    @Curiosity killed there are 10 chains to a furling, 80 to a mile (1 chain = 22 yards, 1,760 yards = mile).
  • That's what I had in my head, but it wasn't what I found when I looked it up. That those were reasonably logical and linked together.

    And then you add nautical miles and fathoms - and fathoms are measured on a weighted knotted rope, because that one I've done, checking how much water we had under us on a falling tide.
  • TheOrganistTheOrganist Shipmate
    Yes, testing for depth is where we get the expression swinging the lead.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    @Gee D, without knowing where "here" is for you, your comment doesn't help me much, I'm afraid.
    @Gee D is in Australia. (Sydney, I think.)

    Thanks - yes to both
  • Many thanks @Lamb Chopped for your information, which I'm not going to quote again. What I've seen is characters in novels talking for several paragraphs, without quotation marks or any of the other details you describe. However, these are badly written novels, and I'm reading them on Kindle. I suspect the former is more relevant than the latter. (The last time I saw this, the same book used "of" rather than "have".)

    I suspect you are right, and the books are simply bad. Nowadays you can self-publish almost anything to Kindle, and many people do--without the least attempt at editing or proofreading. Sucky sucky sucky.

    But there are also a number of books which come out of traditional publishing and still use no quotation marks for anything--long quote, short quote, internal mental voice, nothing. I think they think they're being avant-garde. I believe they're being pains in the butt.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    But there are also a number of books which come out of traditional publishing and still use no quotation marks for anything--long quote, short quote, internal mental voice, nothing. I think they think they're being avant-garde. I believe they're being pains in the butt.
    Wasn’t Cry, the Beloved Country written that way, with no quotation marks?

  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    I've spotted two differences recently.

    Moot. In the UK it means "debatable", in the USA "irrelevant". On this occasion I'm guessing the UK version is the original meaning, as I can see the change going in that direction more easily than the other.

    Quotation marks. In the UK if someone is speaking for more than one paragraph, each new paragraph begins with quotation marks. In the USA these seem to be omitted (which looks really weird to me, but I'm presuming is correct).

    I've never seen what you refer to as the American method. Every paragraph starts with quotes but doesn't end so. That's all I've ever seen from authors British or American or whatever.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Yes, testing for depth is where we get the expression swinging the lead.

    I was today years old when I first heard that expression.

    Sounding for depth is where we get the expression "plumbing the depths."
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    Yes, testing for depth is where we get the expression swinging the lead.

    I was today years old when I first heard that expression.

    Sounding for depth is where we get the expression "plumbing the depths."
    Yes, “swinging the lead” was a new one to me as well.

  • PigwidgeonPigwidgeon Shipmate
    Sounding for depth is also where Samuel Langhorne Clemens got the name "Mark Twain."
  • The weight at the bottom is called a lead, and you have to swing it. Not something I've done, but that weight also has a hollow that can be filled with soft wax that can be used to check the underwater bed - it will pick up sand, mud, etc. That bit is a possible derivation of plumbing the depths with the plumb line.

    Swinging the lead means trying it on, being a bit of a chancer. I knew the expression but haven't used or heard it for years, but it was definitely around in the not so distant past. I'm hearing it in a London accent in my memory.
  • Penny SPenny S Shipmate
    I thought it was that one had got oneself the easy job, while everyone else was hauling on the bowline, or up the rigging, or whatever else energetic was going on.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Penny S wrote: »
    I thought it was that one had got oneself the easy job, while everyone else was hauling on the bowline, or up the rigging, or whatever else energetic was going on.
    I think that's correct.

    It's possible that 'skiving' may have got it's colloquial meaning the same way.

  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    edited June 13
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    But there are also a number of books which come out of traditional publishing and still use no quotation marks for anything--long quote, short quote, internal mental voice, nothing. I think they think they're being avant-garde. I believe they're being pains in the butt.
    Wasn’t Cry, the Beloved Country written that way, with no quotation marks?

    Cry, the Beloved Country uses a dash at the beginning of each line (that is, each time a new character speaks). My recollection is that it's not unique in that, that Alan Paton adopted that practice from some other author. Though I can't remember who.

    So speech is still clearly marked. Just not using quotation marks.
  • The current book I'm reading on Kindle is bad in many ways, but it does have quotation marks. (What can I say? I devour junk fiction the same way some people devour junk food.)

    It did throw up another difference between our countries. The main character is in her final week of school. She is still being taught, she will be tested on what she's learnt, and she's worried if she fails the test she won't graduate. Is this normal? None of that would fit in the UK.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Thanks @Curiosity killed, @Penny S and @Enoch. I’m guessing “swinging the lead” is an expression that maybe didn’t cross the Atlantic.

    orfeo wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    But there are also a number of books which come out of traditional publishing and still use no quotation marks for anything--long quote, short quote, internal mental voice, nothing. I think they think they're being avant-garde. I believe they're being pains in the butt.
    Wasn’t Cry, the Beloved Country written that way, with no quotation marks?
    Cry, the Beloved Country uses a dash at the beginning of each line (that is, each time a new character speaks). My recollection is that it's not unique in that, that Alan Paton adopted that practice from some other author. Though I can't remember who.

    So speech is still clearly marked. Just not using quotation marks.
    And another thanks. It’s been decades since I read it, so my memory is fuzzy.

    The current book I'm reading on Kindle is bad in many ways, but it does have quotation marks. (What can I say? I devour junk fiction the same way some people devour junk food.)

    It did throw up another difference between our countries. The main character is in her final week of school. She is still being taught, she will be tested on what she's learnt, and she's worried if she fails the test she won't graduate. Is this normal? None of that would fit in the UK.
    Not really, or not exactly. Teaching (in my experience) ends a week or two before the end of school. Final exams will take place in the last week+.

    That said, yes it is indeed possible that if one’s grades are otherwise low enough, failing the final exam means one won’t graduate.

  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    A more detailed explanation of swinging the lead.

    Similar to our goldbricking expression.

    I think Clements worked for a while on a paddleboat steamer on the Mississippi. If I am correct, a steamboat had to have two marks--hence "mark twain"-- in order to safely navigate the river.
  • I'd call deer a flock. Whitetails and mule deer here. Elk (wapiti) in the fall are found in harems: one male and a group of females. Moose? Just run away or get behind a tree.
  • It did throw up another difference between our countries. The main character is in her final week of school. She is still being taught, she will be tested on what she's learnt, and she's worried if she fails the test she won't graduate. Is this normal? None of that would fit in the UK.

    High schools here have their final end-of-semester exams on the last three days of school. So if that was Wed/Thur/Fri (it often is) then they'd have more or less normal-looking classes on Mon and Tue, although I'd expect them to be finishing stuff up rather than learning anything new.

    The final exam contributes to the course grade, so there are plenty of kids who would be in danger of getting a failing grade if they perform badly on the exam. (Equally, plenty of other kids can't fail by the time they get to the final exam, but could drop an A to a B with a bad performance.)

    High schools require you to pass a certain number of courses, including specific core courses, to graduate. So yes - if this is a required class, or she's low on credits, then failing the course would mean she wouldn't have enough credits to graduate.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    A more detailed explanation of swinging the lead.

    Similar to our goldbricking expression.
    Goldbricking? That one’s unknown to me too, I’m afraid.

  • orfeo wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    But there are also a number of books which come out of traditional publishing and still use no quotation marks for anything--long quote, short quote, internal mental voice, nothing. I think they think they're being avant-garde. I believe they're being pains in the butt.
    Wasn’t Cry, the Beloved Country written that way, with no quotation marks?

    Cry, the Beloved Country uses a dash at the beginning of each line (that is, each time a new character speaks). My recollection is that it's not unique in that, that Alan Paton adopted that practice from some other author. Though I can't remember who.

    So speech is still clearly marked. Just not using quotation marks.

    It could be Roddy Doyle. I liked that style and stole it for some short stories of my own a few years ago. (They weren't as good as his).
  • Penny SPenny S Shipmate
    I'm not sure about the second part of the lead swinging explanation on the web site- you have to swing it anyway to get it clear of the boat, and if you did not do it properly, you endangered everyone, and the cargo, and everyone could see you were doing it. When I can get to my Brewer, I'll see what they say, but the books are currently behind the stuff I am having to move to allow the changing of the freezer.
  • TrudyTrudy Heaven Host, 8th Day Host
    The trend of leaving out quotation marks is far more likely to crop up in highbrow literary fiction than in mainstream or genre fiction. I've heard authors give impassioned justifications for why they think it's important to do without the quotation marks but to me it always just comes across as a very visible marker of "Hey! I'm A Serious Author!"
  • The books I've been reading are most definitely not highbrow! I don't have the mental energy right now.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    orfeo wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    But there are also a number of books which come out of traditional publishing and still use no quotation marks for anything--long quote, short quote, internal mental voice, nothing. I think they think they're being avant-garde. I believe they're being pains in the butt.
    Wasn’t Cry, the Beloved Country written that way, with no quotation marks?

    Cry, the Beloved Country uses a dash at the beginning of each line (that is, each time a new character speaks). My recollection is that it's not unique in that, that Alan Paton adopted that practice from some other author. Though I can't remember who.

    So speech is still clearly marked. Just not using quotation marks.

    James Joyce was the first to be noticed using an em-dash to indicate speech in English language literature. He disliked the quote marks and thought they cluttered up the page and were too noticeable. He didn't invent it, though. I think it was common in Italian literature at the time, though I could be mistaken.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    edited June 14
    orfeo wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    But there are also a number of books which come out of traditional publishing and still use no quotation marks for anything--long quote, short quote, internal mental voice, nothing. I think they think they're being avant-garde. I believe they're being pains in the butt.
    Wasn’t Cry, the Beloved Country written that way, with no quotation marks?

    Cry, the Beloved Country uses a dash at the beginning of each line (that is, each time a new character speaks). My recollection is that it's not unique in that, that Alan Paton adopted that practice from some other author. Though I can't remember who.

    So speech is still clearly marked. Just not using quotation marks.

    It could be Roddy Doyle. I liked that style and stole it for some short stories of my own a few years ago. (They weren't as good as his).

    Cry, the Beloved Country was written over a decade before Roddy Doyle was born. So, no.

  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    A more detailed explanation of swinging the lead.

    Similar to our goldbricking expression.
    Goldbricking? That one’s unknown to me too, I’m afraid.

    Goldbricking is the practice of doing less work than one is able to while maintaining the appearance of working. The term originates from the confidence trick of applying a gold coating to a brick of worthless metal—while the worker may appear industrious on the surface, in reality, they are less valuable.
  • AravisAravis Shipmate
    Using a hyphen instead of quotation marks is also a feature of French literature.
  • Rev per MinuteRev per Minute Shipmate Posts: 44
    Aravis wrote: »
    Using a hyphen instead of quotation marks is also a feature of French literature.
    Along with the use of 《 》 marking speech.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    Hey, I had fun with this thread. I see it is nearly at the end of its life, but I did want to propose a (rather old) punctuation for renewal.

    The sarcatastrophe: ^ Denotes sarcasm. To be placed both at the beginning of a sentence that is to be taking sarcastically and at the end: e.g.

    ^It never rains in England.^
  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    This thread is definitely fit for Limbo. :smile:
  • Would that be American Limbo or British?
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    Did someone say limbo stick?
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