Americanisms (was RE: Sorcery and Cecilia and Desert Island books)

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Mon Jan 17 10:44:20 EST 2005


The fiendish Gili remarked:

>Otter dangled:
>
>> If you speak American English, what would you call the following:
>>  - a carbonated beverage?
>> - the thing that contains your groceries?
>
>I see a very long thread coming up. Shall I take the bait?


Temptress!  I am meant to be working!


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>The thing you put your groceries in is usually a shopping bag, unless it's a
>grocery bag. However you are less likely to get ridiculed for confusing
>groceries with shopping than you are for confusing pop with soda.

Personally I'd put my groceries in the larder, the fridge and the freezer.  :-)

>What I'd really like to know though, is what do you call the thing with
>wheels you use to push around your baby?
>
>Is it:
>
>A. a pushchair
>B. a stroller
>C. a baby carriage
>D. a pram
>E. a perambulator
>F. none of the above
>
>If I remember correctly, A. is American for what a baby sits in upright, B.
>is the British equivalent of A. C. is American for what a younger baby lies
>in, D. is the British equivalent of C., and E. is what Mary Poppins uses for
>John and Barbara. But I may be hopelessly confused.

In England of recent years, F, because we seem to have taken to calling the
upright infant chariot a "buggy" short for "baby-buggy".  I think you have
A and B the wrong way round: I've only very rarely heard "stroller" in
England, whereas they are advertised in the local paper (I have just
checked, since I happened to have one lying around) as "pushchairs".
They're for older infants rather than babies: toddlers have a pushchair,
babies have a pram, either may have a buggy.

Roget's Thesaurus, which I looked in out of interest, has the whole lot
under the heading "pushcart", which I *certainly* haven't ever heard except
as a sort of barrow for selling fruit-and-veg off in the street, belonging
to a coster-monger.

John and Barbara are both old enough to walk, aren't they?  I suspect that
Mary Poppins might have had a "bassinet" for a baby; that's a wicker
basket, on wheels when it's for out-of-doors, or a very young child's cot
or crib inside the nursery just sitting on the bed.  That one isn't in
Roget at all as a wheeled vehicle, but it jolly well used to be and is in
Chambers 1988 and the S.O.D. 1933 and 1972 as such, dated 1854.  It was the
proto-perambulator (and perambulator entered the language in 1857).

Minnow


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