Why ARE there difference between American and British English?

Well, who really knows this but I like this explanation sent to me by a visitor to this website: "Alistair Cooke stated in his 1980s television series "The Story of English" that Americans purposely pronounced every letter of every word on purpose to differentiate themselves from the English. He stated somewhere that we changed our forks to our right hands prior to the Revolution as a sign the the eater was a rebel. Also to be different from the British."

Why are the English called Limeys?

From the habit, on long journeys, of English sailors drinking lime juice as a preventative against scurvy.

Why are the English called Poms or Pommies?

"Pommy" (or "pom" or "pommie") is a primarily Australian (and largely derisive) slang term used to indicate a recent immigrant from Great Britain, or a Brit in general. Hwoever the origination of this word is a little unclear. "Pommy" might have been based on the word "pomegranate" -- either because the redness of the fruit supposedly matched the typically florid British complexion, or because it was used as rhyming slang for "immigrant." Also a possibility is since Australia was originally a hold for convicts from England, the letters P.O.H.M. (Property of her majesty) were printed on their clothing and then began to apply to all immigrants from England. Interestingly enough, the Oxford English definition of POM stands for Prisoner of Mother England.

Another explanation: it originated in Victoria, where the British immigrants came by ship to the Port of Melbourne. The initials POM were quickly adopted as a fond nickname.

Why are Americans called Yanks or Yankees?

The origin of Yankee has been the subject of much debate, but the most likely source is the Dutch name Janke, meaning “little Jan” or “little John,” a nickname that dates back to the 1680s. Perhaps because it was used as the name of pirates, the name Yankee came to be used as a term of contempt. It was used this way in the 1750s by General James Wolfe, the British general who secured British domination of North America by defeating the French at Quebec. The name may have been applied to New Britainers as an extension of an original use referring to Dutch settlers living along the Hudson River. Whatever the reason, Yankee is first recorded in 1765 as a name for an inhabitant of New Britain. The first recorded use of the term by the British to refer to Americans in general appears in the 1780s, in a letter by Lord Horatio Nelson, no less. Around the same time it began to be abbreviated to Yank. During the American Revolution, American soldiers adopted this term of derision as a term of national pride. The derisive use nonetheless remained alive and even intensified in the South during the Civil War, when it referred not to all Americans but to those loyal to the Union. Now the term carries less emotion—except of course for baseball fans.

Why are New Zealanders called Kiwis?

The name kiwi was made famous by a brand of boot polish called "Kiwi", developed by an Australian William Ramsey. In 1910 Ramsay returned to Australia from New Zealand after marrying Annie Meek of Timaru. In Melbourne Ramsay developed his own brand of boot polish. In need of a name for his boot polish he settled on a New Zealand symbol - the kiwi (a flightless bird found in New Zealand).

During World War II the British Army ordered a large shipment of the Kiwi Boot Polish. By the end of the war, the New Zealander Soldiers were known as kiwis. The name kiwi has stuck ever since.

Why do Americans and Commonwealthers drive on the opposite side of the road?

This is a rather long explanation and can be found HERE.

Where does that word "Bloody" come from the English are so fond of using?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary: "In foul language, a vague epithet expressing anger, resentment, but often a mere intensive, especially with a negative -- as, not a bloody one." They cite an 1840s usage. On the other hand, the use as adverb dates back to 1650s: as an intensive, meaning, "very" or "and no mistake". In the 1880s, it was considered a "horrid word" by respectable people, on par with obscene or profane language, and was printed in newspapers, etc., as "b----y."
The OED says the origin is uncertain, but possibly refers to "bloods" (aristocratic rowdies) of the late 17th-early 18th centuries ... "bloody drunk" arising from '"drunk as a blood" ... and the association with bloody battle, bloody butcher, etc., "appealed to the imagination of the rough classes."

Another version is that the derivation of "bloody" is as a corruption of the medieval phrase "by Our Lady", which, being an oath sworn on the person of the mother of Jesus Christ, was considered blasphemous.

Where does the British saying "Bob's Your Uncle" come from?

This is another of those catchphrases which seem to arise out of nowhere and have a period of fashion, in this case quite a long one. We know that it began to be used in the 1880s in Britain. One theory has it that it derives from the slang phrase all is bob, meaning "all is safe". But there have been several slang expressions containing the word bob, some associated with thievery or gambling, and around this time it was also a common generic name for somebody you didn't know. The most attractive theory is that it derives from a prolonged act of political nepotism. The prime minister Lord Salisbury (family name Robert Cecil) appointed his rather less than popular nephew Arthur Balfour (later himself to be PM from 1902-11) to a succession of posts. The first in 1887 was chief secretary of Ireland, a post for which Balfour was considered unsuitable. The consensus among the irreverent in Britain seems to have been that to have Bob as your uncle guaranteed success, hence the expression and the common meaning it preserves of something that is easy to achieve.


If you know of any words or differences I have missed please submit them to me here

Copyright © 2006 Bruce Longman. All rights reserved. Web Design by Longman Computer Solutions.