snickfic: (Xander latin)
[personal profile] snickfic
I was reading along in my latest issue of Mighty Avengers, and suddenly I sat up and said, "Huh, I did not this author was British." I looked him up, and lo he was. I got clued in because he used one of those tricky phrases that I think doesn't get included in the sweater/jumper list of American and British English differences.

So, here are three phrasings that always tell me that an author isn't American and which I wouldn't expect from an American character (generally speaking; I assume there are regional differences, but these have all been faithful indicators for me in the past as to authorship):

1. Using 'meant to' where I would use 'supposed to.' I usually interpret 'meant to' as being about, say, purpose or life meaning or someone's (say a parent's or God's) intentions for someone else. 'Supposed to' is much more immediate and includes expectations one puts on oneself.

Good example: Vivian always knew she was meant to work with kids.

Bad example: We're meant to be unpacking our stuff, but it's kind of turned into a housewarming.

Fixed example: We're supposed to be unpacking our stuff, but it's kind of turned into a housewarming.

2. 'Different to.' This FAQ breaks down the UK/US usage. Basically, US speakers never say 'different to,' ever. I would instead use 'different from' (which is apparently fairly standard worldwide) or 'different than' (which is more of an American-specific usage).

3. Singular/plural usage of collective nouns. I actually don't see non-American writers use this for American characters, so maybe everyone already knows about it, but I think it's cool, so I'm going to tell you about it anyway. Basically, American English always uses collective nouns (ex: family, team) as singular and British English sometimes uses them as plural, if the context treats the difference members as indivduals.

British English: The company are braced for lay-offs.

American English: The company is braced for lay-offs.

(I am not totally confident of my British English example there; someone tell me if it sounds ridiculous.)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-27 08:36 am (UTC)
lettered: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lettered
This is so interesting. I see the "meant to" thing a lot.

Another one that British people seem to miss is that Americans never say "budge over."

I told some British people once that Americans don't really say "shall" unless we're pretending to be hoity-toity. They were appalled.

British people: "How do you say, 'I shall go to the store'?"
Me: I'll go to the store.
British people: *totally appalled*

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-28 04:00 pm (UTC)
chemm80: (Default)
From: [personal profile] chemm80
Oh yeah, so much, especially the "meant to/supposed to" thing. Gets me every time.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-03-06 12:39 am (UTC)
bobthemole: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bobthemole
I am usually pretty blind to britishisms in a US-set fic, but nothing sets me off like "going pear-shaped."

Things do not go pear-shaped in America. They may be apple-shaped or persimmon-shaped or even Buddha's Hand-shaped, but the characteristic form of a common European pear is never attained.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-03-06 04:43 am (UTC)
bobthemole: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bobthemole
Internet sources call it a British phrase, and I've only seen it in British works. Haven't seen SHA, though. Maybe it's a regional thing?
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