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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

142

American Humor Outed

The Guardian's New York office has maintained its English 2 English blog since April (it's an "attempt to chronicle and catalogue" the "cultural differences" between the company's British and American employees), but I've just come across it today, when this entry popped up:

Not strictly a translation as much as an explanation. I'm a Brit and I recently came across the phrase "more cowbell". I've managed to find out where it comes from but I don't really understand how it's used now.

You mean other than just people referencing this SNL skit, over and over again? Doesn’t really happen.

No idea where this stereotype comes from. (More interpretations here. Also useful.)



142 Comments / Post A Comment

iceberg

ahhh that blog! so good. British = close enough to Aussie for it to apply mostly to my needs. although I've figured out most of them by now.

except for pants =/= underwear in Oz, also we don't say "crisps" for chips (England has crisps and chips, Oz has chips and hot chips, US has chips and fries).

laurel

@iceberg I was astounded by y'alls names for coffee drinks when I visited Australia. I mean, I had never heard these phrases at all ever. It was kind of great that a relatively similar culture could be so different in the most quotidian ways. It's fun to be baffled sometimes.

iceberg

@laurel yes, Mr Iceberg received a VERY strange look from a NY waiter upon ordering a "long black"... which you call an Americano, which is the Italian word for American, even though barely anyone in America actually drinks Americanos (espresso with extra water) and instead just drinks terrible dripolator or instant coffee.

Briony Fields

@laurel Flat Whites! So delicious. Why is that not a thing elsewhere on earth?

edit: well, I guess it's kiiind of a thing, it's just a latte with extra espresso....?

Emby

@iceberg Now look here, I know how to make excellent coffee, and I can certainly appreciate it, but my need for caffeine in my veins this very instant with no time to spare by far supersedes any fussy considerations like "taste."

laurel

@iceberg Heee, a "long black" sounds kind of... something. But also, why would one call a coffee drink a "flat white"? It is neither of those things!

Anyway, I had a ton of great coffee drinks in Australia, even if I wasn't always sure what I was ordering.

smidge

@iceberg I am an American who drinks Americanos, although also part British, so maybe I don't count.

LaLoba

@iceberg I am horrified and offended by these claims!

Verity

@iceberg What if your hot chips have gone cold, but you want to differentiate them from chips-that-are-crisps?

iceberg

@laurel well, it has white milk in it so it looks white? I don't drink coffee, I dunno!

iceberg

@LaLoba clearly you are a lady of exceptional and discerning tastes and an exception to my grossly unfair stereotype :) but there is much more of a cafe culture generally in Australia than in America, and we are less tolerant of bad coffee.

Faintly Macabre

@iceberg Oddly enough, some anglophone cafes in Paris use some Australian terms for coffees, too. Apparently, a lot of Australians and New Zealanders heard how terrible the coffee is there (if you think it's bad in America, France will make you cry) and have brought over their accents and expertise to make loads of money off expats and bobos. An English girl I worked with at the American cafe where I very briefly interned told me you have to be certified/licensed to work as a barista in Australia--is that true?

iceberg

@Faintly Macabre that sounds familiar, but I don't know for sure, don't know anyone who's had to do that.

yrouttasight

@iceberg Oh, no. I don't know anyone who drinks instant coffee besides my 90 year old grandmother, who drinks lukewarm Sanka all day long in between sips of Chardonnay.

My awesome grandmother aside, what I'm trying to say is that coffee in the US has come a long way.

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@Emby ceberg Heee, a "long black" sounds kind of... something. But also, why would one call a coffee drink a "flat white"? It is neither of those things! comearredareunbagno.it

sophia_h

I was enjoying that blog until the weird rant about the superiority of the full English breakfast. Which I enjoy! (Except the mushrooms.) But pancakes and French toast are also delicious, and I like something bready to soak up a fried egg with (toast, English muffin, whatever), and the guy clearly has not had huevos rancheros or any of the delicious food available for yuppie brunch, so he can take his breakfast chauvinism and shove it. One can enjoy many types, dude; amazing, I know.

adorable-eggplant

@sophia_h Yuppie brunch? Is that a different time from brunch brunch? Are brunch and yuppie synonymous?

ETA:Chilaquiles for lyf.

ghechr

@adorable-eggplant Migas or bust.

sophia_h

@adorable-eggplant Yuppie brunch = free-range turkey quiche with house made hollandaise,organic dill, and Trappist brie. Versus delicious traditional American diner brunch. I love all the brunches.

adorable-eggplant

@ghechr I am not going to lie: I will also eat migas.

ETA: And I wouldn't pass on that quiche with house made hollandaise either.

whizz_dumb

@sophia_h Yeah, brunch is obviously just the portmanteau of breakfast and lunch. Greasy diner brunch (somewhere around 10:30AM) is delicious, but not yuppie in the slightest.

mmmcheese

@sophia_h "I discovered a meal between breakfast and brunch!"

Tuna Surprise

May I suggest Separated By A Common Language?
http://separatedbyacommonlanguage.blogspot.co.uk/

All of the fun American English/British English comparisons done by a linguist.

adriana

Tuna, you've sent me down a rabbit hole! (Yay)

carolinaclay

This needs to be 10 minutes longer. At least.@y

Urwelt

I have left that blog extremely confused as to what it is that English people call muffins. Is it what Americans call English muffins? Could it be that easy?

oboe-d-amore

@Urwelt Unfortunately, no. But fortunately, it's even easier? Their muffins are the same as ours! They don't really have English muffins, which are kind of like (English) crumpets.

dontannoyme

@Urwelt There are two muffins in English. There's the cakey muffin which are on offer everywhere and are a bit of a recent phenomenon for us. I think of them as an American import.

Then there's what you call an English muffin which we just call a muffin (!) which is a small white bready thing that you would use in eggs benedict for example. We absolutely do have English muffins here - hence the name! They were probably originally more of a tea-time food along with crumpets but have found their way into breakfast/brunch.

oboe-d-amore

@dontannoyme Whoops, I stand corrected, thanks! One day I will get it straight. :-)

TheBourneApproximation

I spent four years in England for school. As a native USian, there were few things which irritated me more than smug folks telling me that "Americans just don't *get* irony."

That said, and to hypocritically revert to broad stereotypes, it was a relief to move back to America and have people just say what they mean. We're a very *sincere* country.

dontannoyme

@TheBourneApproximation I think you've hit the nail on the head with the sincere thing. And that's a bit what English people are getting at when they talk about irony. Americans will say sincere things that make English people look panicked and search for the nearest exit. No British PM would ever get away with saying "God Bless the United Kingdom" or equivalent. We have a generally very toned down culture compared to the American way of speaking and we like to laugh at anyone who gets too sincere.

I agree with you though that it's an annoying thing to say and not true if you watch Jon Stewart. Or read Hairpin.

meetapossum

@TheBourneApproximation When I was last in England, my friend's girlfriend asked me "if Americans get sarcasm."

fondue with cheddar

I just got to the part about finding English products in American grocery stores. If you have a Wegmans near you, they have a decent English section, among other countries. Their international foods department includes Italian, Asian, Indian, Latino/Hispanic, Kosher, British, and German. (That list is taken directly from their web site. In the store they differentiate, e.g. there are separate signs for English and Irish foods.)

mooseketeer

@fondue with cheddar haha, Wegmans is definitely the best grocery store there is. I take it you're from NY? (upstate not necessarily the city)

iceberg

@fondue with cheddar World Market also has a good English section although I think it's mostly candy :)

fondue with cheddar

@mooseketeer Close! NJ. South Jersey actually, so not really that close? Then again, all of NJ is tiny compared to the vastness of NY, so I guess you were close after all. I guess you're a New Yorker? Anyway, WEGMANS. BEST GROCERY STORE. HANDS-DOWN.

@iceberg Do they have actual stores? I thought they were just online. Wegmans has a bunch of candy but also other stuff, like beans and marmite and treacle (which I guess is technically candy).

mannequinhands

@fondue with cheddar World Market has actual stores, and they are wonderful. In some regions, they are known as Cost Plus.

fondue with cheddar

@mannequinhands Ah, it appears the closest ones to me are around DC, and I live near Philly. Well, if I ever come across one in my travels I'll check it out! It looks like a nicer version of Christmas Tree Shops, a weirdly-named store near me that is always in season and always plural.

Elsajeni

@fondue with cheddar Or if you live near a Fiesta Mart, they also have an excellent "international" department that includes English products. (Their website copy also refers to "Irish style bacon," but I don't recall whether they have a separately-signed Irish section or what -- Wegman's may be ahead of them in that regard.)

fondue with cheddar

@Elsajeni What's Irish style bacon?

Faintly Macabre

@mannequinhands I went to one of those in LA, and I can confirm the wonderfulness. I was visiting a friend who'd lived in England and missed English tea/candy. She lived a block away but had never been in because she thought they only sold home furnishings. They also had a pretty good Southern food section. I wish they were more common here on the East Coast. There's a store in Harvard Square that has a good selection of imported food/tea, but it is very pricey.

Kikimora

@fondue with cheddar Wegmans pretty much rules.

fondue with cheddar

@Kikimora Yeah, you really don't need that "pretty much" qualifier. ;)

mlle.gateau

So, as someone who has lived in various parts of the South, I have to comment on the Guardian tumblr's comments about sweet tea. At one point (and it won't copy/paste for me and I have no tech skillz) they post that sweet tea is often the only tea you get in the American South, where it is referred to simply as tea.

No.

First of all, most people either ask for hot or iced tea. Second, if you ask for iced tea, you will be asked if you want sweet or unsweet. If you specifically want sweet tea, most people say "sweet tea" right off the bat.

I'm not by any means saying that your hot tea experience in the US is anything like what it is in the UK (people here are generally baffled by milk in hot tea), but I just want to be clear that there are people who take their iced tea unsweet, and they are not regarded as odd in any way.

royaljunk

@mlle.gateau YES, THANK YOU.

Elsajeni

@mlle.gateau Yup. It's worth knowing that sweet tea is very common, and that if someone offers to pour you a glass of iced tea in, like, their home, you may want to ask whether it's sweet or not, but this is definitely not likely to be a problem in restaurants.

foukl mysl

@iceberg Heee, a "long black" sounds kind of... something. But also, why would one call a coffee drink a "flat white"? It is neither of those things!

Anyway, I had a tonphu nu mang thai thang thu 8 of great coffee drinks in Australia, even if I wasn't always sure what I was ordering.

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mannequinhands Ah, it appears the closest ones to me are around DC, and I live near Philly. Well, if I ever come across one in my travels I'll check it out! It looks like a nicer version of Christmas Tree Shops, a weirdly-named store near me that is always in season and always plural.
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