Tuesday, June 16, 2015


We are, it has been said, two nations divided by a common language. Here are three examples of different meanings in the UK and the US: Notorious: In England this is always pejorative but in the US it it sometimes used for a famous person without any negative implication. Scheme: This word is almost always pejorative in the US, indicating some activity which, although not necessarily criminal, is considered "sneaky" or even sly. In a recent episode of the very successful series Downtown Abbey, Carson, the butler, is surprised that Mrs. Hughes in not invested in some "scheme." He means some formal arrangement for putting savings aside for a future pension. Beaten: In the UK, this referrers to caning or similar forms of corporal punishment. In the US, it covers a wide variety of bodily harm not usually involving blows on the buttocks. In the UK, this wider sense is conveyed by the term "beaten up".

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