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[Comments] (2) Cross-Cultural Hijinx: So, I know all the standard British English and when I went to England a while back I thought I would have no problem communicating with the natives. And for the most part I got along fine. Nobody even tried to confuse me with double-talk about boots and lifts and parliamentary governments. But I did run into some verbal confusion for which no guidebook or web page had prepared me, and these experiences were kind of embarrassing in a that-aggravating-American or a Leonard-suffers-in-silence kind of way. For the benefit of future tourists I will now commence a vocabulary of lesser-known differences between UK and US terminology.

Exhibit A. In the US, when you order an "x salad sandwich" (eg. "chicken salad sandwich"), you get a sandwich made of x salad, which is x mashed up with mayonnaise and celery and other unsavory things. I'd never order any kind of "x salad sandwich" here.

But in the UK "x salad sandwich" means "do you want a sad little slice of tomato and piece of lettuce on your sandwich, or do you just want the bread and cheese and meat and whatever?" And clearly you want the x salad sandwich in preference to the x sandwich, because you need that tomato and vegetable to lubricate the sandwich which is otherwise pretty dry or slathered with some obscure Qwghlmnian sauce.

Exhibit B. I ran into some confusion between "chocolate" meaning a candy bar and meaning an individual, unwrapped piece of chocolate candy and meaning a piece of candy in general. I never did figure this out, and in the end I just went chocolate-less rather than navigate what seemed to be another country's "Want a Coke?" "Sure, I'll have a Sprite" issue. Now that I think about it it's kind of weird that it was easier for me to buy chocolate in French in Belgium than in English in England. Anyway, can anyone clear up this point? It's possible I was merely faced with a surly or inexpert cashier.

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Posted by Rachel at Mon May 31 2004 21:45

I see you did not find my lecture on EU standardization helpful...

Posted by Pthag at Tue Jun 01 2004 17:55

We do sad little vegetables for salad very well. Although less of your sauce (haha!) about sauce. Imagine the terror of trying to order some chipotle sauce on a sandwich here, several thousand kilometres from its source of origin. After several trials, I see that to prevent Confusion they call it another name.
Your chocolate issue is another matter. *We* use chocolate to mean something that contains chocolate in it, whether wrapped or no. Something that does not contain chocolate is either "sweets" or "toffees". The latter has issues, but let it pass.

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