Finding the #Write #Words? No. 7 Brit-Think/Ameri-Think

Continuing the description of books on words in the list given in post 1, which you’ll find here.

Book 7: Brit-Think/Ameri-Think (sub-titled – A Transatlantic Survival Guide)

On with the info.

Paperback, 176 pages. It was published by Harrap Books Ltd in 1986; my version is the 1992 edition and cost £5.95. It’s available in used form for around £2.25. The current edition, published 2003, has 160 pages and is available for £11.70.

The book is divided into 30 chapters and illustrated with amusing cartoons by Gray Jolliffe. It begins with a brief list of often-confused words for both sides of the pond, but this isn’t the purpose of the book at all. Its intention appears to be to quash some misunderstandings both sides frequently cling to about each other. Whilst much of the attitudinal text is pretty good, there are definite indications of the writer’s personal prejudices. I can, for instance, recognise fellow Brits in the description of the tourist to the US, but I also know many from the island who wouldn’t be seen dead as these stereotypes. Britain, is, after all, very much the land of the eccentric (for which you may substitute looney, mad as a hatter, bonkers, or idiosyncratic, depending on your own views and prejudices).

I bought the book to gain some idea of our differences, since our similarities are many, as is the case with all humanity.

Opening at a totally random page (90-91) I come upon the third part of a text box that compares the ‘very, very best things in America’ with the ‘best of British’. Item 24 from each:

‘America – Giant, Frost-free refrigerators with ice-cube dispensers on the outside. (These are now available in UK, but with much better energy efficiency, since most Brits care more about the environment).

British: Preference for real wool carpet (100%) at prices which stop just short of ludicrous. (These often outlast the residents of the houses they decorate, therefore justifying the initial cost. And, in reality, most Brits can’t afford such luxury and make do with artificial fibre flooring instead.)’

On the opposite page is Chapter 14, headed ‘Sex’.

‘Differences between Anglo- and Ameri-sex are mostly oral. Which is to say that Yanks talk more about it, then talk more while doing it, since sex in America is the stuff of endless self-examination. Brits are somewhat less introspective about sex, though the gap has been narrowing since the Sixties. In general, they like to ‘get on with it’, while Yanks experience full erotic catharsis only if they’ve talked it through first.’

Whether that was true then or now, I can’t comment (I’ve never ‘enjoyed’ {had} sex with any American), but I do wonder if the difference in this is driven largely by the greater influence of religion in the USA. The UK is moving toward a more enlightened atheism and therefore less obsessed with sex and those aspects of carnality that seem to involve a lot of time and energy for the various clerics of the many churches. Who knows?

Anyway, enjoy!

Students learning the English Language will find a useful site on pronunciation here. And there’s a friendly group on Facebook regarding the language, which you’ll find here.

Post 2 is here, post 3 here, post 4 here, post 5 here, and post 6 here.

4 thoughts on “Finding the #Write #Words? No. 7 Brit-Think/Ameri-Think

    1. Thanks for your comment, Lynette. I’ve never made it to the US, but I’ve met a few Americans in my time. We have our differences, but I’ve found people seem to be more or less the same the world over.

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