Get Your Premium Membership

Separated By A Common Language

"England and America are two countries separated by a common language." - George Bernard Shaw
An American takes a respectful look at some of the many language variations across 'the pond'...
I write a poem for my 'mom', you write one for your 'mum', I sit down on my 'rear end' butt you sit down on your 'bum'. I need to use the 'bathroom', that small room you call a 'loo', I may just need to stand 'in line', that thing you call a 'queue'. Now here's a fun one: 'Bob's your uncle' when I'd say, 'You're done'. You might attend a 'Stag do' for some 'bachelor party' fun. I always ride the 'elevator' up; you ride the 'lift'. That time that I called football 'soccer', you got jolly miffed! Your 'pitch' - my 'field'. Your 'match' - my 'game'. We never say 'Nil - nil', (I'm glad your lads in '66 took World Cup, not Brazil). I'd say, 'My team is looking strong' though you'd say, 'My team are...' For me, a 'trunk'; for you, a 'boot' holds luggage in the car. You'd say you need a 'holiday', well, I need a 'vacation': I'll hit the 'beach', you hit the 'seaside' - either way, elation! I'm 'very pleased' but you are 'chuffed' when things are going breezy. I might say, 'I don't really mind' where you would say, 'I'm easy'. When I give you some 'candy', you say "thank you for the 'sweets'!" You offer 'biscuits', I say "love your 'cookies'!" Speak of treats: I cool down with a 'popsicle'; for you, it's an 'ice lolly'. We put 'chips' in a 'shopping cart', you put 'crisps' in a 'trolley'. You mention 'trousers'; I look for a 'pair of pants' somewhere, But if I say 'a pair of pants' you'd look for 'underwear'. My baby wears a 'diaper', your baby wears a 'nappy', I may just call your chips 'french fries' (which could make you unhappy). In 'secondary school' you studied 'maths', and hated it, But I attended 'high school' where 'math' never was a hit. You fill your 'lorries' up with 'petrol', we fill 'trucks' with 'gas'. I'd say, 'the poor guy died', you'd say, 'he popped his clogs, alas' Now, "various small things" to me are "bits and bobs" to you. Let's hit the 'diner' or the 'pub' before our night is through, And raise a glass and quaff a pint of ale to this fine fact: Whilst I'm 'amazed' at all these sayings, you're downright 'gobsmacked'!

Copyright © | Year Posted 2020




Post Comments

Poetrysoup is an environment of encouragement and growth so only provide specific positive comments that indicate what you appreciate about the poem.

Please Login to post a comment

Date: 6/16/2020 5:46:00 PM
Love this delightful and creative piece, my dear friend! Brilliant! Congratulations on being listed as the top ten. Best wishes.
Login to Reply
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 6/16/2020 6:16:00 PM
Mala, thank you for noticing this, and leaving behind such uplifting words. I hope your day is a beautiful one ~ John
Date: 6/12/2020 11:59:00 PM
This is absolutely delightful my friend. Can you see the smile on my face! Love it. So happy to see it listed as a top ten winner in the Best new poem. I love your poems and this is going into my favs. Congratulatioins to an American bloke!
Login to Reply
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 6/13/2020 3:04:00 AM
I can't quite see the smile on your face, but I can hear it in your voice. I'm simply gobsmacked at your favourable disposition and grateful for the fave. Much obliged, milady.
Date: 6/6/2020 12:35:00 PM
What a great po. Love the juxtaposition be6the languages. A Fave for me! Chantelle hugs
Login to Reply
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 6/6/2020 3:44:00 PM
Chantelle, thank you very much for the read and the fave! That means a lot to me. Hope you have a great weekend ~ John
Date: 6/2/2020 3:19:00 PM
I found this to be a very creative and delightful piece my friend. Certainly an uplifting, positive and very enjoyable find for me today. A fav..
Login to Reply
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 6/2/2020 4:11:00 PM
Very grateful for the visit and uplifting words, Robert. Thank you for the fave!
Date: 5/29/2020 9:25:00 AM
John this is a clever write but who says what - the I is you and the you are us but if I can't speak English , could you translate the you part to Greek?...... Seriously though I thoroughly enjoyed your poem - very well penned. Blessings, Jennifer.
Login to Reply
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 5/29/2020 10:56:00 AM
Haha! In the words of one of my favorite British philosophers: I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together, goo goo g'joob! Thanks for the visit, my friend! Hugs ~ John
Date: 5/27/2020 12:26:00 PM
I'm trying to guess what that common language is. Hmm: Not Spanish,... not Arabic,... not Russian. Really I ain't got me no idears, Charlie! :) gw
Login to Reply
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 5/27/2020 1:31:00 PM
Love your sense of humor (oops, humour)
Date: 5/26/2020 9:51:00 PM
This was a gas to read I'd say ol chap a true gasser. Truly enjoyed this one John!
Login to Reply
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 5/27/2020 12:55:00 AM
John, thanks for the read and the fun comment! So glad you enjoyed this ~ John
Date: 5/26/2020 1:16:00 PM
Hi John! I’m late to the party here! Wow this is absolutely on the nail and must have taken AGES! Very well done. I always wonder how much language to change when I post poems because sometimes I’m speaking gibberish to most people here! I can tell you that the distinctions will become less as my childrens’ generation grows up. The exposure to American English is constant. “Mummy I’m done” “You are not done! A task is done, darling, not a person. You have FINISHED!” “UGH, WHATEVER!” :oD
Login to Reply
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 5/26/2020 3:45:00 PM
Nina, I am reminded of my grandmother-in-law who used to correct us whenever one of us would say we were feeling nauseous... "It makes me nauseated whenever I hear someone say they feel nauseous", haha! By the way, I adored your spelling poem! Soupmail on the way...
Parmenter Avatar
Nina Parmenter
Date: 5/26/2020 1:18:00 PM
Ooh and you might enjoy my poem ‘Americans can’t spell’ which was written with the utmost affection for you strange bunch ;-) ;-)
Date: 5/26/2020 4:47:00 AM
A so amazing educational poetry! I so much enjoyed its fun and depth! As a teacher of the English language, I teach these differences between American and British English.. here in Tunisia, we teach British English.. but there are some lessons in which we highlight differences in vocabulary and pronunciation.. So meaningful what you have poetically composed, John! A great delight to read! My deepest regards and blessings.
Login to Reply
Parmenter Avatar
Nina Parmenter
Date: 5/26/2020 1:17:00 PM
Delighted to hear that you teach ‘proper’ English Besma ;-) ;-)
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 5/26/2020 10:39:00 AM
I am blessed to know this about you, my dear Besma! I am always grateful for, and humbled by, your generous comments and the time you commit to reading and reviewing poetry. I am sure you are a blessing to your students as you explain the intricacies of the English language to them, and the nuances between the regions where it is spoken. Thank you, and may blessings fill your day ~ John
Date: 5/26/2020 12:47:00 AM
Wow, such an entertaining and informative piece. I enjoyed much!
Login to Reply
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 5/26/2020 1:06:00 AM
I'm so glad you enjoyed this, thanks for letting me know!
Date: 5/25/2020 11:58:00 AM
This is great John. Well done with all the comparisons. One day I was trying to explain what a dumpster is to a friend in the UK. I hope all is well :)
Login to Reply
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 5/26/2020 1:12:00 AM
Thanks, Heidi! There are so many examples... I'm gobsmacked!
Date: 5/23/2020 8:48:00 AM
I really enjoyed reading this fun poem, John, nicely written. John
Login to Reply
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 5/23/2020 9:35:00 AM
Thank you John, I'm glad you thought it was fun ~ John
Date: 5/22/2020 10:40:00 PM
Every language is different, this is true. And it does separate us, to a point. However, we are connected through our words. : ) I find that simply amazing. This is cute, clever and creative. Thanks for smile, my sweet friend. : ) Brandy
Login to Reply
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 5/22/2020 11:58:00 PM
I like your thoughts, Brandy. "We are connected through our words". So true and so comforting. Smiles, John
Date: 5/22/2020 9:58:00 PM
This was brilliant. I feel like you have rewritten the Rosetta Stone in some ways. "You offer 'biscuits', I say "love your 'cookies'!" Speak of treats: I cool down with a 'popsicle'; for you, it's an 'ice lolly'." -I did not know this. Had never heard of an ice "lolly" in my life!
Login to Reply
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 5/22/2020 11:56:00 PM
Wow, the Rosetta Stone, high praise, Caren! Thanks ~ John
Date: 5/22/2020 9:45:00 PM
wow, this is really GREAT, my friend. It reminds me of how I write when I research this kind of stuff and put my mind to it. I've done this kind of thing before and realize what hard work it is. A FAVE, and John, HELP ME> I just don't get how to do those links that you were able to put up with your list for Line. Even reading what she directed, I still don't get it. Can you email me exactly what to do!!
Login to Reply
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 5/22/2020 11:54:00 PM
I sent a Soupmail about the links. Thanks so much for the fave and acknowledgement of the work it took. I've been putting this one together for about a month now.
Date: 5/22/2020 9:37:00 PM
What truth and such a fun read John. It's value is much higher than its placement.
Login to Reply
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 5/23/2020 2:03:00 AM
You are too kind, my friend. Que sera, sera. More important to connect with friends than to win a contest. Thank you for reading and connecting, my friend!
Date: 5/22/2020 6:58:00 PM
Nicely knitted verse, John. Research, fine tuning and humour produced a hit. I respect your work and will be indulging in further now.
Login to Reply
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 5/23/2020 2:04:00 AM
Nice to meet you, Jasmine. You are kind to drop by with your thoughtful words ~ John
Date: 5/22/2020 1:03:00 PM
Your examples are all so spot on witty - I recognized a few, but am not nearly as proficient as you are - have you ever been to England?
Login to Reply
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 5/22/2020 1:45:00 PM
Yes, I worked in Scotland for 6 months in 1990. Scotland has its own charming distinctions and accents, but many of these examples were in use then. It's where I became a football (soccer) fan, they are quite daft about it in the U.K!
Date: 5/22/2020 8:32:00 AM
Excellent piece John or should I say, good innit. When you think about it the list is endless. Here's a couple more Parking lot / car park Drugstore / chemist Cab /Taxi Mall/ shopping centre. Tom.
Login to Reply
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 5/22/2020 2:07:00 PM
Some good additions, Tom! I was going to also do a bit about the spelling differences (colour/honour/favour, etc.) but felt it was already running long. I may have to do a part two with the suggestions that come in! Readers, any more ideas?
Date: 5/22/2020 8:32:00 AM
Excellent depiction of the languages Johnny Watts... a great read my friend... frigidissima!...all the best from the Wingster :o)
Login to Reply
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 5/22/2020 2:01:00 PM
Thank you, my Wingman! Hope you're keeping safe, and have a great day, my friend.
Date: 5/22/2020 7:35:00 AM
Such a wonderful write John you certainly made me smile, we may have differences in our language but we share a common bond in poetry:-) going into my faves this is excellent!!:-) hugs Jan xx
Login to Reply
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 5/22/2020 1:47:00 PM
Jan, I thank you for this on multiple levels *wink, wink*. I am glad it could make you smile. It is all part of the charm of sharing a language that grows in different directions as it expands throughout the world. Thank you very much, my friend!
Date: 5/22/2020 6:14:00 AM
I really enjoyed this poem John! I could relate to so many experiences from my life. We learn the usage of the language while at school and when we step into the world outside, there are various versions of the same. Also, it changes forms drastically within a hundred miles. It is an entertaining experience though, every time I learn a new version. :)
Login to Reply
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 5/22/2020 2:00:00 PM
Our language really permeates the globe, it is no wonder there are variations all over. These are just a few of the ones I've observed but there are many more. Thanks for the read and comment, my good friend!