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Old Jun 11, 2011, 6:19 PM   #1
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Default Divided by a common language ...

A sign outside a shop in Blackpool
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Old Jun 11, 2011, 8:49 PM   #2
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no no its true the cigerettes thing is just a cover for gay sex trade - the smoking thing is a the sign your into that sort of thing, honestly!!
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Old Jun 11, 2011, 10:26 PM   #3
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Had to laugh at that one (and it took me a couple of seconds to think what it really meant). There's all sorts of slang terms that can be mis-understood depending on where you are in the world.
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Old Jun 12, 2011, 2:09 AM   #4
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Having said that, I have never seen such a sign before. In Britain we use the term "fag" verbally (& colloquially) for a cigarette, but it's not usually written.

I remember standing in a village shop years ago when an American girl in her early teens came in wanting, and asking for, an eraser. The shopkeeper looked slightly puzzled for an instant, then said "Oh! You mean a rubber". The girl went bright red and didn't say anything.

Who was it who described England and America as "two countries divided by a common language"? I have a nagging feeling it was Churchill, but I may well be wrong on that.

I've just thought of another one, not involving America. Many years ago my brother lived for some years in Australia and then South Africa, and after returning to England asked the female assistant in a computer shop for a "stiffie" He meant a 3 1/2 inch disk which was then just coming in to replace the previous 5 1/4 inch ones. The bigger ones were very flexible and were termed "floppies", so when the smaller ones came out and were being used and sold alongside the older ones they were called stiffies to distinguish them. Not in Britain however, where for some inexplicable reason they were also called "floppies". That girl also turned bright red.
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Old Jun 12, 2011, 6:32 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peterbj7 View Post
Having said that, I have never seen such a sign before.
Me neither, that's what attracted me to the sign. Perhaps it says something about Blackpool.

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Who was it who described England and America as "two countries divided by a common language"? I have a nagging feeling it was Churchill, but I may well be wrong on that.
I thought it was George Bernard Shaw, but having looked on the net, I'm not so sure. One site has the following:

================================

In The Canterville Ghost (1887), Wilde wrote: ‘We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language’.

However, the 1951 Treasury of Humorous Quotations (Esar & Bentley) quotes Shaw as saying: ‘England and America are two countries separated by the same language’, but without giving a source.

Much the same idea occurred to Bertrand Russell (Saturday Evening Post, 3 June 1944): ‘It is a misfortune for Anglo-American friendship that the two countries are supposed to have a common language’, and in a radio talk prepared by Dylan Thomas shortly before his death (and published after it in The Listener, April 1954) - European writers and scholars in America were, he said, ‘up against the barrier of a common language’.

=================================

And despite the quote being attributed to Churchill on various sites, none gave a source.
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Old Jun 12, 2011, 8:39 AM   #6
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England and America are two countries separated by a common language. George Bernard Shaw
Irish dramatist & socialist (1856 - 1950)


Pavement/Sidewalk, Lift/Elevator, Petrol/Gas...the list goes on!
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Old Jun 12, 2011, 2:12 PM   #7
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My Oxford Book of Quotations has it as "divided by a common language", but yes, it was Shaw. Doesn't say where he wrote it, and a quick scan through Wikipedia's entry on Shaw didn't reveal it. It does show, however, that Shaw was one of the early proponents of photography, and was a keen amateur photographer for the remainder of his life once he acquired a camera at the age of 42. However, as the person who envisaged the gas chamber as a suitable way of killing large numbers of people (maybe tongue-in-cheek, but that is not certain), he may not have been a very nice man.
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Old Jun 12, 2011, 2:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Pavement/Sidewalk, Lift/Elevator, Petrol/Gas...the list goes on!
I think these are poor examples, as they are cases where different words are used and there is no ambiguity (though there is total ambiguity with "gas", even in America). More serious are those cases where the same word has different meanings (I'm hard put to think of examples though I know there are many - "biscuit" and "school" are two that come to mind). There is a fascinating book on the English language by Melvyn Bragg entitled "The Adventure of English" which goes into this in some depth.

Shaw is always described as Irish, but he spent most of his life and did almost all his work in England. At least as English as Handel, who is generally described as an English composer born in a German state ("Germany" of course didn't exist).
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Last edited by peterbj7; Jun 13, 2011 at 1:49 PM. Reason: Couple of typos spotted
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Old Jun 12, 2011, 5:50 PM   #9
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Now that's funny!
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Old Jun 12, 2011, 11:26 PM   #10
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It's a girl thing, but I was mystified when I was over in England one time and someone asked if anyone had seen their jumper. We call them sweaters.
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