Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
h a l f b a k e r y
It's not a thing. It will be a thing.

idea: add, search, annotate, link, view, overview, recent, by name, random

meta: news, help, about, links, report a problem

account: browse anonymously, or get an account and write.



American / British English Translation Plug-in

Open up the internet for users of both languages
  (+3, -15)(+3, -15)(+3, -15)
(+3, -15)
  [vote for,


It is very difficult for an American to understand something written in British English. Likewise, something written in American English is virtually incomprehensible to most people raised in Britain.

The younger generation in Britain sometimes do make some sense of American English, however the penalty is a spread of confusion and inevitable 'F' grades on papers they write.


This simple browser plug-in automatically translates between the two languages. If you are in Britain, you will never again see American English on a web-page. Likewise if you are American, you will have British English automatically changed to suit your own language.

Due to there being some similarities between the two languages, I believe this is both possible and could be created at minimal cost.

Feature-packs or premium upgrades would also translate the quaint abbreviations used by youth today into something more practical.

vincevincevince, Dec 08 2007

(Welsh)Scottish-English Welsh-Embraish_20Translaeta_2c_20ken_3f
Slightly harder translation. [theleopard, Dec 08 2007]

(??) Would any of you gentlemen be more comfortable Grumpy_20Old_20Man_20Pills
under those trees over there? [pertinax, Dec 09 2007]

(?) Chav speak http://www.snoglondon.com/f/17550
This is something it would have to handle as well. [mylodon, Dec 11 2007]

More on Noah Webster http://www.m-w.com/info/noah.htm
Looks like the US was this >< far from having wimmen wagging tungs, too. [Ling, Dec 15 2007]


       so you're both British then?
po, Dec 08 2007

       <Henry Higgins>   

       "Why can't the Yankees teach their children how to speak ?"   

       </Henry Higgins>
8th of 7, Dec 08 2007

       //That's simply not true.//
It is true. We are so infuriated by what we perceive to be spelling and grammar mistakes that we are unable to focus upon the text itself.
vincevincevince, Dec 08 2007

       My Mac's dictionary widget will differentiate between American and British English, and Microsoft have had US and UK English language options for years. Am I right or am I right? Or am I right?   

       I agree with [boysparks], it really isn't that hard. Maybe get off your fannies, head down the sidewalk to the bookshop down the street and buy a book from another country. Get some Irvine Welsh, that'll learn ye.   

       Come to think of it, I've got some linking to do...
theleopard, Dec 08 2007

       MS sp: bastardization
Ling, Dec 08 2007

       Ha ha ha.
theleopard, Dec 08 2007

       // Tomorrow it's likely that the Eastern European languages assume a fully hybrid form duty for the productivity of youth take over the future now. //   

       Someone's been watching A Clockwork Orange too often ....   

       "Oldthinkers Unbellyfeel Ingsoc"... well, I'm off out now for a glass of Milk Plus and a bit of the old ultra-violence. Mustn't forget my maskie ....
8th of 7, Dec 08 2007

       The MS English (British) option accepts both correct and incorrect spellings for many terms. However, that's beside the point as this idea is about web-browsing and translation not word-processing and proofing.
vincevincevince, Dec 08 2007

       I think the written word is less of a problem then the spoken, even in scotland, since there's such a high literary tradition throughout Britain, which tends to iron out, literarily, the language to London or BBC English, which is like people say easily translatable to American English.   

       However, on the ground, a babel-fish style audio translator would be more useful, since for some peculiar reason every two feet in Britain not only do you encounter a new incomprehensible dialect, you encounter two other Britains from two other places that have incomprehensible dialects.   

       Hence, my guess is that the British (and I include the Irish, because they are all basically the same) write so much simply so they can understand each other.   

       Although I have seen them use a different technique called liquid speech, where they all gather at the end of the day and down between 6 and 10 pints of beer, at the end of which everyone can understand everyone. The slurred language resulting has been eroding at their linguistic characteristics for hundreds of years, causing all long words to sound much shorter.   

       I think this was the original reason for the French language.   

       I am a little off topic here.
mylodon, Dec 08 2007

       There isn't really a difficulty in understanding American English. There is nothing wrong, really, with Americans - you just have to be a little more patient with them.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 08 2007

       If you can understand the customer service phone jockeys at AT&T, you should be able to understand a Brit.
rascalraidex, Dec 08 2007

       For the more sophisticated ones, yes. For the rest, merely grunting and drawing on a cave wall with a burnt stick seems to be entirely adequate (Have you seen inside the briefing room at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue ?)
8th of 7, Dec 08 2007

       Oh look. A trolls' picnic. [-]   

       //every two feet in Britain [...] you encounter a new incomprehensible dialect// {looks down nervously at feet}
pertinax, Dec 09 2007

       Eh, well Brits still use miles and stones, so don't give me too much of a hard time if I use feet.   

       The nice thing about feet is that my feet, in shoes, are a foot.   

       I'd have to bind my feet to pace off things in decimeters.   

       Again, I am off topic. I'll give myself a bone for that.
mylodon, Dec 09 2007

       //the British (and I include the Irish, because they are all basically the same)//   

       I think the Irish would disagree with you, quite fervently in fact. I made this same observation to an Irish girl a while ago and was promptly expounded the history of colonial Britain in Ireland, expounded with great urgency and emotion I might add. And most of it I hadn't the foggiest about because they don't tend to teach you the misgivings of your nation at school.
theleopard, Dec 10 2007

       [+] as long as you include the following:   

       Vintage (UK) = Thin-fendered (US)   

       Vintage (US) = Second-hand (UK)
Ned_Ludd, Dec 10 2007

       Irish girls... well. You can't just agree with someone because they are pretty.   

       The Irish are like the Welsh, except less passive. The culture is the same -- British Isles.   

       And don't give me any references to Boudica -- she's dead and buried under Kings Cross, a sign of loserdom.   

       (supposedly there is a plaque to her there somewhere... i wasn't able to find it though.. although there is an obvious sign for platform 9 3/4.. sorry Boudica, your attempts for cultural independence are less important then a boy wizards attempts at puberty)
mylodon, Dec 10 2007

       // I'm amused that the English, Welsh, Scots and Irish all insist they're somehow different// North and South Londoners think they're poles apart with just the thames and taxi drivers keeping them apart let alone the geographical divide of a piece of sea, a wall and the welcoming hillside.
po, Dec 10 2007

       // I'm amused that the English, Welsh blah blah blah//   

       How delightfully patronising.
theleopard, Dec 10 2007

       // I'm amused that the English, Welsh blah blah blah//   

       you should try Kosovo in the former Yugoslavia...
gil, Dec 10 2007

       The Boudicca monument is on the Embankment, which is a fair old way from Kings Cross.   

       Her burial place, like King Arthur's, is unknown - and rumoured to be as far afield as London, Birmingham, Salisbury and Essex.   

       Tacitus, who was responsible for most of the history back in those days (responsible, at least, for writing it down. Rather than actually causing it) doesn't mention her burial at all.   

       Anyway, all of this happened long before America had even been invented (a time when spelling vtilised excess v's and an vtter absence of any u's - which were later invented by the French to annoy the Roman stonemasons)   

       On the nature of language - it is said (and I have repeated it here) that the colonial accents we hear in America, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and (in some sections of the population of) South America are somehow snapshots of English, as it was spoken in the Motherland, by the emigrants (from whatever set of local dialects), at the time the emigration. It makes sense, at a micro-level - as people are more likely to instil 'correct' ways of speaking by means of educating their children strictly, rather than allowing them to be picked up in the street. This more forced learning method is likely to allow less change than the more natural one. for this reason, there are those who believe that Shakespeare sounds more authentic if spoken in a 'Southern' US accent.   

       It might be bollocks, but I rather like the idea. Not least because it suggests that the home language is the one that evolves more loosely, with offshoots taking some time before they gain the confidence to deviate from the norm as defined at the time of the split.   

       The other reason I like it is because of the obvious link with evolutionary theory. You have a true population of people who, in being able to communicate with one another must share the same 'species' of language. Other European languages, all evolving from earlier common ancestors - Latin, Coptic, Arabic etc. What with branches breaking off, small in-species population drifting further from the norm as they occupy new linguistic phrase-spaces - until some eventual speciation event - where nobody from one branch can understand anyone from another - and a new language finally emerges. The best thing about this is how it shows that a species is made up of a lot of individuals - both in evolutionary, and linguistic terms.   

       Were a new colonisation event to occur now - I wonder, what with radio, tv etc - whether there would be such a freezing of language - or whether these long-distance media would help keep the colonialists up-to-date with the latest fashions and mutations from home.
zen_tom, Dec 10 2007

       Curtailing the need to correct my friends and colleagues in their use of "English" has been a neccesity in order to allow me time to live my life. The mental gymnastics required for this herculean shift in attitude was accomplished by regarding American English as another language, and by trying to link each foible and inaccuracy to one in my own language.   

       As an example, I recently became steamed up over the ubiquitous "bunch", as in There's a whole bunch of cars in the street". You can't have a bunch of cars, I was about to argue. But is a "load of cars" any better, as we would say in Britain?   

       That said, I still can't get used to the attempted elimination of the adverb from their language, even though it's been going on for decades.
egbert, Dec 10 2007

       // as far afield as London, Birmingham, Salisbury and Essex //   

       Ouch ... she obviously didn't make friends easily.......   

       // though it's been going on for decades //   

       Just plain going on, or boldly going on, one enquires ....   

       <note use of the passive voice to avoid blame>
8th of 7, Dec 10 2007

       Is there a collective noun for cars?   

       The problem with this form of conjugation, is that it is more than irregular, it is entirely open-ended way that, for example "a murder of crows" or "a gaggle of geese" requires memorisation of a list of potentially thousands of individual terms.   

       The question arises - who compiles this list?   

       Which begs the question, who sets the rules? After all, the written word followed all manner of regional 'dialects', with different spellings, characters, and possibly grammars, until such time as someone wrote - with authority - all the rules down - thus fixing them in place.   

       The obvious Webster v Johnson split comes to mind - both of whom attempted to codify the same thing, but each of whom took it upon themselves to provide a little of their own interpretation - with the results we see today.
zen_tom, Dec 10 2007

       // as far afield as London, Birmingham, Salisbury and Essex//   

       Ooops, I meant for that to suggest that varying conjecture had her occupying each of those final resting places individually, not that she might be occupying them all at once.   

       It might still be the case though, the English's treatment of William Wallace (who has a plaque at St Bart's near Smithfields Market) might have his final resting places provided in list form.   

       Which makes me wonder, what is the collective noun for a resting place?
zen_tom, Dec 10 2007

       // who sets the rules //   

       The monarch, at the current time Queen Elizabeth the Second of the house of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, sorry that is pronunced "Windsor" and is not in any way German. Hence "the Queen's (or King's) English". (not German)
8th of 7, Dec 10 2007

       // hat is the collective noun for a resting place //   

       A graveyard ?
8th of 7, Dec 10 2007

       Hat is the collective noun for a resting place?   

       Marvin Gaye would be proud.
egbert, Dec 10 2007

       (please note that everything that I say is from personal experiance and not from any reliable source)   

       I haven't had many problems with understanding the "British" language, the same thing goes for the "Southern (US)" language, "Hick", "New English (northeast coast of USA)" or any other derivitive of the language that most of us use as our primary language. That language (English) is a language that is still commonly used in a large part of the world. Therefore I believe that this is not necissary. There were a few situations that I didn't understand some of the, what I call, accents. I also have not had a single problem with understanding what people type as long as it was in english. All you would have to do, at worst, is reread the text to figure out exactly what they mean. It isn't as if other people's typing looked like this "1 d0|\|'7 7|-|1|\||< 7|-|@ 7|-|1$ 1$ |\|33D3D @ 4LL"   

       P.S. I can do long posts sometimes :)
keithbrunkala, Dec 10 2007

       Regarding Boudica   

       Well, I was following the legend that said she was buried under platform 10, Kings Cross, and walked all over the damn place. There's supposed to be a small plaque, according to a book I had, but I couldn't find it. I know she has other monuments. I was looking for this one.   

       [egbert] Thanks for easing up on dialect correction. Its exhausting to talk to a Briton when they insist on repeating everything you say back to you with their accent.
mylodon, Dec 10 2007

       // with their accent //   

       We don't HAVE accents, why is this so hard for you to understand ? We repeat things so that you may hear what correct diction sounds like.
8th of 7, Dec 10 2007

       If everyone would simply adopt Esperanto they way they were supposed to, this problem would've gone away a long time ago.   

       I've no trouble understanding anything written by anyone from the UK unless said writer is in fact Ukrainian. I don't think this is as widespread a problem as you think.
elhigh, Dec 11 2007

       I find differences between US and UK English amusing rather than a source of angst as others appear to - for example, I can never resist a smile when a US aeroplane (US: airplane) pilot says "We will be landing momentarily".
hippo, Dec 11 2007

       Just as long as it doesn't migrate to 'culor', 'kuller,' or somesuch.   

       // We repeat things so that you may hear what correct diction sounds like. //   

       I'll remember that the next time I'm in East London.
RayfordSteele, Dec 11 2007

       Couleur me international.
egbert, Dec 11 2007

       // We will be landing momentarily //   

       But I'm English and I say that... then again, if I'm paying an £8 landing fee, I always land at least 3 times on each approach; it's better value.
8th of 7, Dec 11 2007

       But wouldn't 'momentarily' apply to 'will be' as well as 'landing'   

       so 'We [will be landing] momentarily'?   

       Which is more accurate, because the will-being of landing is modified by momentarily to state that the the process of will being will be short?   

       Alternatively you could say, We will be momentarily landing?   

       In that case momentarily has a choice of modifying landing or 'be'?   

       Perhaps it is also possible to modify a tense? If a future perfect possible (it's been awhile) form such as 'will be' is modified by 'momentarily' it would inform most readers that the future tense, is not so future anymore. In fact, it's just a couple seconds away, perhaps. Almost time to unbuckle your seatbelt.
mylodon, Dec 12 2007

       custard, "airsol" has a completely different meaning round these parts.
Murdoch, Dec 12 2007

       Especially in Scotland. (Is that those parts of which you speak?)
theleopard, Dec 12 2007

       [mylodon] - //But wouldn't 'momentarily' apply to 'will be' as well as 'landing'// - hmmm, clever, but I don't think so. I also rather like the image that "landing momentarily" (in the UK sense of "for a moment" rather than the US "in a moment") conjures up, of a huge Boeing 747 doing a "touch-and-go" landing.
hippo, Dec 13 2007

       //We will be landing momentarily.//   

       Of course we will. We're nearly at our destination.
And don't call me 'Momentarily'.

       Doesn't quite work, does it?
Jinbish, Dec 13 2007

       Yes, of course it works. It was very clever. And don't call me Doesit.
theleopard, Dec 13 2007

       <sp> duzzit <sp>

I'm going to give this idea a big fat fishy for ignoring all of the rest of the world that uses the internet. Vive lá difference say I.
DrBob, Dec 13 2007

       Yes, leopard. Those are the parts of which I speak.   

       While I'm here, any more of this "British Isles all one culture" bollocks and I'm gonna get over to the States and thoroughly biff you all up.   

       What's the difference between yoghurt and The US?   

       Yoghurt is a living culture.   

Murdoch, Dec 13 2007

       <very slow and loud>   

       [CUSTARD} .... DOOOO .......YOOOOOO...... SPEEEEEKK........ EEEEENNNN-GLEEESH.... ?   

       </very slow and loud>
8th of 7, Dec 13 2007

       Yob culture seems pretty universal there, as I think you reflect.
mylodon, Dec 13 2007

       //and thoroughly biff you all up// which means to punch you repeatedly until your internal organs are thoroughly bruised
vincevincevince, Dec 13 2007

       So you ARE referring to sex.   

       I enjoy the differences between British and American English that I see here. There are not many, really, and they are easy to understand.   

       What I do not understand is the need for Americanized versions of the Harry Potter books. A plug-in might have made the translation easier, but I, as an American, would much rather have read the original.   

       This is just another dialect/difference file to load into an already-existing page translation software. [ ]
baconbrain, Dec 13 2007

       //Americanized versions of the Harry Potter books// say WHAT??
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 13 2007

       His name is Bud Tallahassee, and rather than magic, he wields evangelical Christianity.
Texticle, Dec 13 2007

       No sign of Mr. Tallahassee on Google. But I did find this quote from Warner Brothers: "We think a teen Harry Potter drama really has potential to connect with our prime demographic – especially once we tone down the British cultural references."
I vote that we get our own back. We start with an edited re-recording of Elvis Presley (singing "I'm not anything except a hound." and "Love me tenderly, love me truly.") and work forward from there. There's a lot of American material that could be made acceptable to the English if we could tone down the transatlantic references a little.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 14 2007

       Probably hard for modern kids to relate when Harry Potter sounds like some pansy from the olden times.   

       'bloody 'ell! The schoolmaster stole our sweets!'   

       British dialect has the sense of being 'old' and 'quaint' and 'peculiar' like that funny uncle who arrives at dinner parties and complains about the fish. It's not for everyone.
mylodon, Dec 14 2007

       The phenomenon of implied achronous historicity is extremely interesting but so pervasive as to be invisible to many people.   

       Why does the old-established and well-respected letter Z, for instance, appear to many to be more up-to-date than the equally old-established and well-respected letter S? to such an extent that they feel it only a matter of time before the latter becomes completely superseded by the former. Surely this is a nonsense? Surely there is no demonstrable historical sense in which the letter Z is appreciably newer than the letter S?   

       It is only one more instance of the perilous superstition of chronolatry.
Ned_Ludd, Dec 14 2007

       nice Ned, I could have said that middle paragraph in one brief sentence.
po, Dec 14 2007


       Why can't we all just...get along.
egbert, Dec 14 2007

       //Why can't we all just...get along.//   

       [egbert] thank you for interjecting that note of reason and harmony. You're right - in troubled times like these, the last thing we need is for our two great nations to find themselves quibbling over pronunciation. Let us all bury the hatchet, agree that differences are what make us human, and get down to the task of teaching those bloody yanks how to speak properly.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 14 2007

       //Probably hard for modern kids to relate when Harry Potter sounds like some pansy from the olden times.//   

       I guess you're right, [Mylodon]. God forbid that any American child should have to cope with the concept that there are different cultures out there.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 14 2007

       yuo are all utterly wet and weedy, as any fule kno
Murdoch, Dec 14 2007

       I think that people should be more exposed to other dialects, as this could allow them to eventually become more similar. Also, people would be more used to these dialects, which would help in interdialectal conversation.
apocalyps956, Dec 14 2007

       // The day we all talk and think like wot each other does is a sad one indeed //   

       Don't knock it 'till you've tried it. Resistance is Futile..... You will be assimilated.....
8th of 7, Dec 14 2007

       Futility is persistent. We'll keep trying long after we've lost.   

       (still waiting for [po]'s breifs - er, brevity - in [ned]'s para)
lurch, Dec 14 2007


       I think it's a general requirement to engage in verbal jousting between two cultures as arrogant as the US and the UK. The hypocrisy both contain make for perpetually fueled arguments.   


       I agree. Just because I complain about things doesn't mean I dislike them. When I return to the west coast of America (where there is really only one accent), it can be hard to tell people apart. In London, anyhow, the accent becomes a part of the personality, and then you begin to expect everyone to have a different one. And, quite honestly, it seems like a number of individuals actively develop their accents. Unlike in the US, where there is an 'accent' and then there are 'underclass accents', which don't necessarily have an effect on social position, the UK has the full range of 'upper class', 'business class', 'economy class', and 'baggage class' accents, which seem to have a more stratifying effect.   

       Tho - first time I went to the UK I thought, 'Wow! Everyone here sounds like Monty Python!'
mylodon, Dec 14 2007

       Several British actors have voices that I had always thought were marvelously unique. Later, I found out that it was just that they were from some particular place--Midlands, Manchester, Devon or whatever.   

       I still enjoy hearing them. I also like reading British English. [-]
baconbrain, Dec 14 2007

       OK, my two pence/cents.   

       To the Americans - our language is ancient and living. And yes, it is our language, and that means that although our right to correct you when we hear you using the language incorrectly is questionable, we nevertheless feel that, because it is our language, we have that right.   

       To the English (and to a lesser extent, other Brits). Our language is ancient and living. And over the last two years, I have learnt of many instances where the Americans use our language still as it was during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and it is we who have moved on*. So be careful what you consider to be "correct".   

       *Buggered if I can remember any off the top of my head, though. Aluminum is the only one that springs to mind, and that's a special case.
egbert, Dec 14 2007

       Proof that Noah Webster was a halfbaker:
(approx 1780) "His most important improvement, he claimed, was to rescue "our native tongue" from "the clamor of pedantry" that surrounded English grammar and pronunciation. He complained that the English language had been corrupted by the British aristocracy, which set its own standard for proper spelling and pronunciation."

       See link, also.
Ling, Dec 15 2007

mylodon, Dec 15 2007

       Ah yes, the eighteenth-century 'w00t'.
pertinax, Dec 15 2007

       // their insistence on spelling everything phonetically //   

       This is one reason why we particularly dislike the French.
RayfordSteele, May 21 2008


back: main index

business  computer  culture  fashion  food  halfbakery  home  other  product  public  science  sport  vehicle