E008 What’s in a Word?

Welcome to English with Kimberley.

In this episode, I want to talk to you about introducing the way that different English speaking countries use different words for the same thing and how confusing this can be.

But first, let’s have this little quiz.

What do Australians call a sugary food often eaten by children?

Is it…

a) a sweet?

b) a candy?

or c) a lolly?

Shall we hear the question again? What do Australians call a sugary food often eaten by children?

Is it…

a) a sweet?

b) a candy?

or c) a lolly?

Did you get ‘a lolly’.

In English, many of its words come from other languages. For example, ‘sweet’ is a very old English word, whereas ‘candy’ is a French word (England was taken over by France in 1066) and ‘lolly’ is, well, possibly from India*.

So, we have learned:

  1. English includes a lot of other words from other languages as result of its history; and

2. English speaking countries use different words for the same thing.

Finally, it can also cause a lot of confusion when people from two different English speaking countries talk to each other.

Imagine an Australian female is talking about the ‘pants’ she’s just bought to a British male – but the British male is looking a bit embarrassed! Why?

Is it because the Australian word ‘pants’ in Britain means…

a) shoes?

b) T-shirts?

c) underwear?

or d) trousers?

Let’s repeat the question again.

Imagine an Australian female is talking about the ‘pants’ she’s just bought to a British male – but the British male is looking a bit embarrassed! Why?

Is it because the Australian word ‘pants’ in Britain means…

a) shoes?

b) T-shirts?

c) underwear?

or d) trousers?

Well it’s c) – ‘underwear’ – because the clothing that covers both legs and can be held up at the waist by a belt are called ‘trousers’ in Britain – but ‘pants’ in Australia. Whereas, pants in Britain mean ‘underpants’ – that is, clothing worn under other clothes, next to the skin.

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You can also find a script of this podcast at www.goaustralia.biz

I hope you have enjoyed this podcast and you’ll join me again.

* Endnotes

  1. Lolly is short for lollipop. (Lolly. (2017). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved January 31, 2017, from https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/lolly)
  2. Lollipop may be borrowed from Angloromani. (Lollipop. (2017). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia. Retrieved January 31, 2017, from https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/lollipop)
  3. Angloromani (English Romani) is a language spoken by an ethnic group in Britain called the ‘Romani’, who trace their origins to the Indian subcontinent. (Angloromani Language. (2017). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia. Retrieved January 31, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angloromani_language)