The uncommonness of a common language

So I am a tech guy. There are some things that we “techies” like to think in set in stone. One of those areas seems to be common “names” of services and devices. This morning I have a call with Europe and the first 30 minutes has been spent determining that a (phonetic) UK root-er and a US rouw-ter are the common technology know as a router.

30 minutes of my life gone.

Reminds me of the time when, in a previous life, I was presenting to the board of an American venture capital company (trying to get investment funding) and one of them said “niche” in the American way (“nitch”). I had never heard that pronunciation before, and thought he was being amusingly ironic, so I giggled. He looked surprised. Later, one of the other directors said the same thing, in a tone of voice that allowed for no frivolous interpretation, and it dawned on me that I had been very silly and that they must think I was mad. I had to make a point of working my pronunciation of the word (“neesh”) into the discussion several times to make it clear that I was neither insane nor disrespectful, but just spoke funny.

Reminds me of the time, many years ago, when I was traveling through the southern United States with a fellow from London. I felt like a U.N. interpreter trying to help him communicate with those with a deep south accent.

Oh come now how about when you you say SCSI (Scuzzy) , ASCI (askie), SATA (say-tah), and the like. :slight_smile:

And when it comes to UK vs USA just err on the side of caution and always go with the USA.

Why you ask?


UK lost a war with USA (Revolutionary war). The Brits had one of the most advanced and highly trained armies in the world at the time.

the USA had peasants with hunting rifles and little military experience.

How was it the Brits lost?

Because no one could understand them and were always confused with orders.

Rooters = 30 minutes wasted. lol

(PS: I know, I know but this was only a fun ribbing jest for our UK friends and not meant to be taken litterally. :slight_smile: )

I have to travel only about half an hour before ROOT 88 becomes ROWT 88.

Many many years ago a senior school administrator, in a letter of recommendation for me, wrote “I think Phil has finally found his nitch.”


Yeah, that is an unfortunate typo. I bet that “n” has come back to haunt both of you.


You and I need to especially cautions of this argument. These here northerners get all pricklier than a brier patch whenever I mention “the war”. I tell 'em “Y’all put them carpet bags down and drink a sody-pop or I’ll sick the ‘coon dogs on ya’”. Right about then someone will get snort or daughditor on the phone and I know I have lost … again.

I am a Canadian currently living in America and I frequently have issues of this sort. Canadian English is somewhere between British and American. I always assumed it was closer to American English, but now, having lived in both America and the US, I am not so sure.

When it comes to slang, Canadian and US English are much more similar. For example, I would say someone being teased by the various ruffians on this board is “being made fun of”, not “having the piss taken out of them”. The US expressions are familiar to me, whereas most of the slang in the UK, especially Scotland, took some learning. (For example, the first few months I was there, friends would come up to me and say in greeting, “Are you all right?” and I (like an idiot) would reassure them that yes, I was fine, and I only looked like a dishevelled hobo because the look suits me, etc…finally one of them had the mercy to explain that it’s not a real question, it’s just a greeting, and everyone was winding me up about it.)

On the other hand, Canada uses the same spellings as the UK (favour, shovelling, etc.) and the non-slang vocabulary and the pronunciation thereof are largely the same. I never encountered there a new and strange version of a word I already knew.

The one I hate most is the way Americans pronounce “clique” as “click”. The first time an American friend of mine, otherwise well-spoken, talked about the “clicks” back in her high school days, I mocked her mercilessly for a good half hour before she used the power of the internet to prove to me it was a phenomenon on a national scale. The odd bit to me was that she didn’t even know there was another pronunciation.

Oh, and the way people here say that something happened “on accident” instead of “by accident” always sounds quaint to me.

Also, I refuse to start spelling “cheque” as “check”. It’s madness and you’ve got to take a stand somewhere, I say.

Apologies if this post became something of a laundry list of personal linguistic peeves. Perhaps I need to join some kind of expat support group!

How do you pronounce clique? I can not imagine any other way to say it. I wrote in on the white board of a UK transplant I dug up somewhere, a 'roo chaser, the Indians, a few Africans, and without fail every one “click”'d it.

The US Canadian border is a lot thicker than it first appears, eh? I have a Libyan cell mate who arrived via a LONG stay in Canada and communication can be very interesting at times.

I still think the funniest thing I have ever seen was trying to explain football to a new Indian who was here on his first ever trip out of his home town in India. He was very excited and a real fun guy. He had been here all of 3 days and wanted to “football” with some of the other guys. The look on his face when BG produced an American football was … hilarious is not nice, but closest. While his english was good certain sports terms were tough to get across. Things like “down”. His associates who have been here for a while were laughing harder than anyone.

Anyway. Back to pretending to work.

Some funny AMerican Slang scenarios and expressions…

“I am going to a phat ass party” = Good
“I am going to a fatass party” = Strange looks

“Man that was sick!” (Awesome, amazing feat)
“Man you are sick!” (Awesome, amazing, ballsy person)
“Man you are ill” (Was once “sick” but now used as “bitchy”)

“Cap ya” (Going to shoot you)

“Poppin off” (Acting crazy, crazy enough to shoot someone)

“Junk in the trunk” - A girl with a big attractive rear end. “She has junk in the trunk”

“Can I get the short on that” - ( finish smoking someone’s smoke)
“Can I get a short” - Can I bum a smoke

“A car’s shoes or dubbs” - Rims on a car.

“fixin’ to” - get ready to

“Talk over a deuce deuce” - Have a beer together - deuce deuce is a 22oz can of beer
“Bustin forties” - Getting excessively drunk while drinking 40oz beers or beer.

“fronting” - lying or misleading

“Po Po” - Police

“shining” - drinking moonshine or liqour.

“Beamer” - Crack Head
“Twitcher” - Meth Head

“Pirate the booty” - sleep with someone who is promised to someone else.

“Two puppies shy of a pet store” - Someone who is not all there, not very smart.

“Techno Weenie” A cool person who is smart about computers.

“Basement Dweller” A pathetic loser.

“Head Hunter” Someone looking to steal someone else’s hard work. Head hunting can sometimes lead to pirating the booty or stealing someone else’s talent (low bidding on a job and stealing a client)

“Neck Breaking” or “Break your neck”. Music that is really good or “rocking out” to music.

What are some of your odd “slang” uses?

Please share.

I thought we gave you away :confused:

Id love to, but I cant. I only speak the Queen`s English. Sorry.

Scriveners the only support group youll ever need :wink: Just dont lend any of em any money!

I and everyone I had ever encountered before moving to the US pronounce it much closer to the way it’s said in French - it is a French loan word after all. I’m rubbish at phonetics but it’s more like “cleeque” or “cleek”.

The thing I found most interesting about this word is that everyone who says it “click” seems mystified there is another way to say it, and everyone who says it “cleek” is similarly so. Geographic patterns of language are funny that way, I suppose.

I wonder if that is related to the lack of french influence in those areas. French is not a big influence in my language set, but if I squeeze my fat head into a French way of thinking cleek makes perfect sense.

Now that I think about it I know where I can find a French Canadian. I will drop this in front of her and see what she says. This could be fun…

Cleek for me, too.

I was reading something interesting the other day about how words are imported differently into UK and US forms of English, at least as regards stress patterning. (Sorry–don’t know about Canadian; the only Canadians I know were originally something else, or have lived abroad for decades, so I don’t know how authentically Canadian their language might be.)

Take the word “cliché”, for example. In French, the two syllables have equal stress; in UK English, the stress is on the first syllable (CLI-ché), apparently because our national arrogance leads us to change things to suit our own language’s stress patterning :wink: ; in US English, the stress is on the second syllable (cli-CHÉ), apparently over-compensating for the English language’s tendency to move the stress to the first syllable of that word. Stressing the second syllable sounds weird to me; stressing the first syllable must sound weird to Americans; no doubt, both sound weird to the French whose word we have appropriated.

Stress patterning is an interesting concept. Personally, I find it very hard to follow US television news bulletins (not that I come across them very often), and I think this is because the pattern of stress on words within sentences is very different to what I am used to, and sometimes seems to remove any impression of intelligible meaning. Some UK children’s broadcasters do something similar. But maybe those examples reflect bad presenting skills rather than language variations.

Just another thought (I am not turning into bob u here am I?) is it possible that there is a basic socioeconomic explanation? The rebellious folks who wanted out of HM Kingdom were not quite in the noble class, but neither were they serf.

Than again regional dialects seem to point more to nation of origin as a whole. Southerenese has a large african/spanish twist at its core. North-eastern is heavy with UK stylings. North-midwest is heavy Scandinavian.

I assume that the west coast is just heavily influenced.

I think it can be easier explained as ACCENT INFLUENCED PRONUNCIATION.

You say tomato I say Heinz.

Catsup - Ketchup

BBQ - Bar-B-Que - Barbecue

Just ask anyone from the Boston area to say “Put the dog in the car and get the keys from the drawer so I don’t have to climb on the roof.”

It will sound like

“Put da dawg in da kaw and get de keys from the draw so I don’t have ta climb on da rough.”


or you may find this interesting

clique |klēk; klik|

It is another one of those words that has TWO pronunciations in the dictionary and BOTH are correct.

Just like the word NUCLEAR

nuclear |ˈn(y)oōklēər; -kli(ə)r|


router: I never use rooter, always rowter. Thats probably because Ive spent over 30yrs working with woodworking routers(ow)

Clique: I`ve always used both pronunciations, and heard them used by others.
One of the online dictionaries also shows two adjectives : click and cleek
— cliqu·ey \ˈklē-kē, ˈkli-\ adjective
— cliqu·ish \ˈkli-kish\ adjective

English is my first language, but I do also speak French. So when talking in French I would say cli-ché with even accents on both, and when talking to Americans or Canadians I would say cli-CHÉ, and when talking to Brits I would say CLI-ché simply because I’ve lived there and I know that’s how they say it and I like to be intelligible. There were other differences between UK English pronunciation and Canadian that I noticed: for example, Canadians say WEEKend, like Americans, and the British tend to say weekEND.

Funnily enough the British differences almost never seemed incorrect to me, simply different. So when I was there I would alter my stress patterns accordingly unless I was talking to someone from North America or elsewhere in the world, just for the sake of easier communication. Yet here in the US I am highly resistant to the idea of some changes - I don’t care if nobody understands me because of my refusal to say nitch, because it’s just bloody wrong. :laughing: Changes in inflection are one thing, but I have less tolerance for pronunciation shifts. Although in my defence, having knowledge of French is probably why the American reworking of loan words (clique as click, niche as nitch, etc.) strikes me as so dramatically odd.

On a final note, if there’s one language in which stress patterns are truly odd, it’s Russian. I am learning it now and there is virtually no way to predict from the spelling of a word where the stress will fall. My partner is Russian, so I have an on-demand pronunciation coach…but it still makes me miss the days of learning languages with predictable (and therefore “boring”, as I am told) stress patterns.

There’s yer problem. Most of us here don’t care.

There are them prolandians though…

Dont y mean [size=150]YOU[/size] dont care