Lost in Translation

UK-and-US-Flags-Aug-17-BlogDuring the autumn and winter of 2016, Education Quizzes was a very busy bee, preparing for the majority of our UK quizzes to be copied to our American site. Talking of bees – I was given the task of being a busy spelling bee.

In order for our UK quizzes to make the transition to America seamlessly, we had to ensure they looked the part once they arrived. Which meant no more analysing (it’s analyzing), cheques (it’s checks), colouring (it’s coloring) or even bevvies (boohoo!) – (it’s bevies).

In addition, not only do some of our UK words get misspelt by Americans (I’m sure Americans feel the same way about our words too!), they also have completely different words for others. So as well as being a busy spelling bee, I was also tasked with the job of finding those words. Which meant no more candyfloss (cotton candy), car parks (parking lots), chemists (drugstores) or cling film (plastic/saran wrap).

I thought it would be a very easy job of finding a ginormous list on Wikipedia and simply copying/pasting. Not so. Whilst Wikipedia do list a number of different spellings, it’s by no means exhaustive – in fact it’s rather lacklustre.

In the end I found a handful of websites with differing lists. Then I spent an enjoyable evening with Graeme (who writes our Nature Matters blogs) thinking up words that the online lists had overlooked. The next day, I amalgamated them all into one mammoth spreadsheet. I ran it past Chris, our trusty American quiz-writer (who had a good giggle at a few of our differences), and once our website designers waved their magic wand over the whole thing, the job was done.

Of course, there are bound to be a few that have slipped through the reliable EQ net – but I’m sure our friends over the Pond will let me know about them via error reports!

If you are planning transferring UK English to USA English (or vice versa), feel free to use our list which is given at the end of this blog. Please be vigilant though if you are doing a ‘mass sweep’ using coding – some words are best left alone. Two such examples are:

Flat-Tyre-Aug-17Lift to elevator:

He took the elevator to the second floor’ is OK (except that ‘second floor’ is known as ‘third floor’ over there), but

He gave her a elevator into town’ is not.

Flat to apartment:

He bought a new apartment’ is OK, but

He got a apartment while giving her a elevator into town’ is not!

Likewise, some USA words shouldn’t come back the other way. These include crib (for cot), period (for full stop) and snap (for press stud). The main reason is these words have alternative meanings and therefore may render your work confusing at best and illegible at worst!

To see the complete list we made, press the ‘Readmore’ button below.

a lettuce – a head of lettuce

abseil – rappel

abseiled – rappeled

abseils – rappels

abseling – rappelling

action replay – instant replay

action replays – instant replays

agony aunt – advice columnist

agony aunts – advice columnists

allen key – allen wrench

allen keys – allen wrenches

aniseed – anise

anticlockwise – counterclockwise

articulated lorries – tractor-trailers

articulated lorry – tractor-trailer

asymmetric bars – uneven bars

aubergine – eggplant

aubergines – eggplants

baking tray – cookie sheet

baking trays – cookie sheets

bank holiday – legal holiday

bank holidays – legal holidays

beetroot – beet

beetroots – beets

biscuit – cookie

biscuits – cookies

black economies – underground economies

black economy – underground economy

blanket bath – sponge bath

blanket baths – sponge baths

block of flats – apartment building

boiled sweet – hard candy

boiled sweets – hard candies

boiler suit – coveralls

boiler suits – coveralls

boob tube – tube top

boob tubes – tube tops

breakdown van – tow truck

breakdown vans – tow trucks

breeze block – cinder block

breeze blocks – cinder blocks

bridging loan – bridge loan

bridging loans – bridge loans

broad bean – fava bean

broad beans – fava beans

bumbag – fanny pack

bumbags – fanny packs

candyfloss -cotton candy

car park – parking lot

car parks – parking lots

caretaker – janitor

caretakers – janitors

caster sugar – superfine sugar

central reservation – median strip

central reservations – median strips

chemist – drugstore

chemists – drugstores

chest of drawers – bureau

cider – hard cider

cinema – movie theater

cinemas – movie theaters

cling film – plastic wrap

common seal – harbor seal

common seals – harbor seals

compere – emcee

comperes – emcees

consumer durables – durable goods

cornflour – cornstarch

cot – crib

cot death – crib death

cot deaths – crib deaths

cots – cribs

cotton bud – cotton swab

cotton buds – cotton swabs

cotton wool – absorbent cotton

council estate – housing project

council estates – housing projects

courgette – zucchini

courgettes – zucchinis

court card – face card

court cards – face cards

crash barrier – guardrail

crash barriers – guardrails

crisps – potato chips

crocodile clip – alligator clip

crocodile clips – alligator clips

cross-ply – bias-ply

crossroads – intersection

current account – checking account

current accounts – checking accounts

cutlery – flatware

danger money – hazard pay

demister – defroster

demisters – defrosters

dialling tone – dial tone

dialling tones – dial tones

diamante – rhinestone

diamantes – rhinestones

doner kebab – gyro

doner kebabs – gyros

double cream – heavy cream

drawing pin – thumbtack

drawing pins – thumbtacks

dressing gown – bathrobe

dressing gowns – bathrobes

drink-driving – drunk driving

drinks cupboard – liquor cabinet

drinks party – cocktail party

driving licence – driver’s license

driving licences – driver’s licenses

dual carriageway – divided highway

dual carriageways – divided highways

dust sheet – drop cloth

dust sheets – drop cloths

dustbin – garbage can

dustbins – garbage cans

estate agent – real estate agent

estate agents – real estate agents

estate car – station wagon

estate cars – station wagons

ex-directory – unlisted

fairycake – cupcake

fairycakes – cupcakes

faith school – parochial school

faith schools – parochial schools

financial year – fiscal year

financial years – fiscal years

fire brigade – fire company

fire brigades – fire companies

fire services – fire departments

fish finger – fish stick

fish fingers – fish sticks

fitted carpet – wall-to-wall carpeting

fitted carpets – wall-to-wall carpeting

flexitime – flextime

flick knife – switchblade

flick knives – switchblades

flyover –  overpass

flyovers – overpasses

footway – sidewalk

footways – sidewalks

frying pan – skillet

frying pans – skillets

frying-pan – skillet

frying-pans – skillets

full stop – period

full stops – periods

funfair – carnival

funfairs – carnivals

gammon – ham

gammons – hams

gear lever – gearshift

gear levers – gearshifts

goods train – freight train

goods trains – freight trains

greaseproof paper – wax paper

green fingers – green thumb

groundsman – groundskeeper

groundsmen – groundskeepers

guide dog – seeing eye dog

guide dogs – seeing eye dogs

hair grip – bobby pin

hair grips – bobby pins

hairgrip – bobby pin

hairgrips – bobby pins

hairslide – barrette

hairslides – barrettes

handbag – purse

handbags – purses

hatstand – hatrack

hatstands – hatracks

hen night – bachelorette party

hen nights – bachelorette parties

hire purchase – installment plan

hire purchases – installment plans

hob – stovetop

hobs – stovetops

holdall – carryall

holdalls – carryalls

holidaymaker – vacationer

holidaymakers – vacationers

homely – homey

hosepipe – garden hose

hosepipes – garden hoses

hot flush – hot flash

hot flushes – hot flashes

housing estate – housing development

housing estates – housing developments

ice lollies – Popsicles

ice lolly – Popsicle

icing sugar – confectioners’ sugar

in hospital – in the hospital

jelly babies – jelly beans

Joe Bloggs – Joe Blow

Joe Public – John Q. Public

jumble sale – rummage sale

jumble sales – rummage sales

jump lead – jumper cable

jump leads – jumper cables

junior school – elementary school

junior schools – elementary schools

kennel – doghouse

knickers – panties

ladybird – ladybug

ladybirds – ladybugs

lamp post – street light

lamp posts – street lights

level crossing – grade crossing

level crossings – grade crossings

lollipop ladies – crossing guards

lollipop lady – crossing guard

lollipop man – crossing guard

lollipop men – crossing guards

loose cover – slipcover

loose covers – slipcovers

lorries – trucks

lorry – truck

loudhailer – bullhorn

loudhailers – bullhorns

low loader – flatbed truck

low loaders – flatbed trucks

lucky dip – grab bag

lucky dips – grab bags

luggage van – baggage car

luggage vans – baggage cars

mackintosh – slicker

mackintoshes – slickers

main road – highway

main roads – highways

maize – corn

mangetout – snow peas

market garden – truck farm

market gardens – truck farms

marshalling yard – railroad yard

marshalling yards – railroad yards

maths – math

metalled road – paved road

metalled roads – paved roads

milometer – odometer

milometers – odometers

minced beef – ground beef

minim – half note

minims – half notes

mobile phone – cell phone

mobile phones – cell phones

monkey tricks – monkeyshines

motorway – expressway

motorways – expressways

muesli – granola

mum – mom

mummies – mommies

mummy – mommy

mummy’s – mommy’s

mums – moms

mum’s – mom’s

nail varnish – nail polish

nappies – diapers

nappy – diaper

needlecord – pinwale

newsreader – newscaster

newsreaders – newscasters

noughts and crosses – tic-tac-toe

number plate – license plate

number plates – license plates

off-licence – liquor store

off-licences – liquor stores

opencast mining – open-pit mining

ordinary share – common stock

ordinary shares – common stocks

oven glove – oven mitt

oven gloves – oven mitts

paddling pool – wading pool

paddling pools – wading pools

paracetamol – acetaminophen

pastry case – pie case

pastry cases – pie cases

pavement – sidewalk

pavements – sidewalks

pay packet – pay envelope

pay packets – pay envelopes

pedestrian crossing – crosswalk

pedestrian crossings – crosswalks

pelmet – valance

pelmets – valances

petrol – gasoline

physiotherapist – physical therapist

physiotherapy – physical therapy

pinafore dress – jumper

pinafore dresses – jumpers

plain chocolate – dark chocolate

plain chocolates – dark chocolates

plain flour – all-purpose flour

plait braid – plaited braided

plaiting – braiding

plaits – braids

play truant – cut class

polo neck – turtleneck

polo necks – turtlenecks

positive discrimination – reverse discrimination

postal vote – absentee ballot

postal votes – absentee ballots

postbox – mailbox

postboxes – mailboxes

postcode – zip code

postcodes – zip codes

postman – mailman

postmen – mailmen

post-mortem – autopsy

post-mortems – autopsies

potato crisp – potato chip

potato crisps – potato chips

pram – baby carriage

prams – baby carriages

prawn – small shrimp

prawns – small shrimps

press stud – snap

press studs – snaps

press-up – pushup

press-ups – pushups

prison officer – correctional officer

prison officers – correctional officers

private soldier – GI

private soldiers – GIs

profiterole – cream puff

profiteroles – cream puffs

public school – private school

public schools – private schools

public transport – public transportation

punchbag – punching bag

punchbags – punching bags

purse – pocketbook

purses – pocketbooks

pushchair – stroller

pushchairs – strollers

pylon – utility pole

pylons – utility poles

quantity surveyor – estimator

quantity surveyors – estimators

quaver – eighth note

quavers – eighth notes

racing car – race car

racing cars – race cars

railway – railroad

railways – railroads

real tennis – court tennis

recorded deliveries – certified mail

recorded delivery – certified mail

registration plate – license plate

registration plates – license plates

removal van – moving van

removal vans – moving vans

reverse the charges – call collect

reversing lights – back-up lights

right-angled triangle – right triangle

right-angled triangles – right triangles

ring road – beltway

ring roads – beltways

rounders – baseball

rowing boat – rowboat

rowing boats – rowing boats

rucksack – knapsack

rucksacks – knapsacks

sailing boat – sailboat

sailing boats – sailboats

saloon car – sedan

saloon cars – sedans

sandpit – sandbox

sandpits – sandboxes

sandwich cake – layer cake

sandwich cakes – layer cakes

sanitary towel – sanitary napkin

sanitary towels – sanitary napkins

school report – report card

school reports – report cards

self-raising flour – self-rising flour

Sellotape – Scotch tape

Semibreve – whole note

Semibreves – whole notes

Semitone – half step

Semitones – half steps

share option – stock option

share options – stock options

shopping trolley – shopping cart

shopping trolleys – shopping carts

show home – model home

show homes – model homes

show house – model house

show houses – model houses

silverside – rump roast

skeleton in the cupboard – skeleton in the closet

skeletons in the cupboard – skeletons in the closet

skimmed milk – skim milk

skipping rope – jump rope

skipping ropes – jump ropes

skirting board – baseboard

skirting boards – baseboards

sledge – sled

sledges – sleds

sleeping partner – silent partner

sleeping partners – silent partners

slowcoach – slowpoke

slowcoaches – slowpokes

snakes and ladders – chutes and ladders

solicitor – lawyer

solicitors – lawyers

soya – soy

spare time – free time

splashback – backsplash

splashbacks – backsplashes

spring onion – scallion

spring onions – scallions

stag night – bachelor party

stag nights – bachelor parties

Stanley knife – utility knife

Stanley knives – utility knives

state school – public school

state schools – public schools

storm in a teacup – tempest in a teapot

surtitle – supertitle

surtitles – supertitles

suspenders – garters

swede – rutabaga

swedes – rutabagas

sweets – candies

takeaway – takeout

takeaways – takeouts

taxi rank – taxi stand

taxi ranks – taxi stands

tea towel – dish towel

tea towels – dish towels

terrace house – row house

terrace houses – row houses

terraced house – row house

terraced houses – row houses

ticket tout – scalper

ticket touts – scalpers

tights – panty hose

titbit – tidbit

titbits – tidbits

toffee apple – candy apple

toffee apples – candy apples

touch wood – knock on wood

trade union – labor union

trade unions – labor unions

trading estate – industrial park

trading estates – industrial parks

traffic warden – parking meter attendant

traffic wardens – parking meter attendants

tram – trolley car

trams – trolley cars

transport café – truck stop

transport café – truck stops

trousers – pants

twelve-bore – twelve-gauge

twelve-bores – twelve-gauges

vacuum flask – thermos bottle

vacuum flasks – thermos bottles

vest – undershirt

vests – undershirts

veterinary surgeon – veterinarian

veterinary surgeons – veterinarians

waistcoat – vest

waistcoats – vests

walking frame – walker

walking frames – walkers

wardrobe – closet

wardrobes – closets

washing powder – detergent

washing powders – detergents

washing up liquid – dishwashing liquid

water ice – Italian ice

water ices – Italian ices

weatherboard – clapboard

weatherboards – clapboards

white coffee – coffee with cream

white coffees – coffees with cream

white spirit – mineral spirit

wholemeal bread – wholewheat bread

wholemeal breads –  wholewheat breads

windcheater – windbreaker

windcheaters – windbreakers

windscreen – windshield

windscreens  -windshields

zebra crossing – crosswalk

zebra crossings – crosswalks

zed – zee

zeds – zees

zip – zipper

zips – zippers

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