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Cole Parker

Brit speak

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I'm putting the finishing touches on a short story, and an editor who's kind enough to work with me, an English chap, scoffed at my use of the term 'sidewalk'. He made some sarcastic reference to people walking like ducks and other things going sideways (we have a very sarcastic relationship, which is wonderful. He laughs and me, I laugh back at him, and we cross-educate, or brainwash, each other) .

I couldn't believe the English don't have that word. I asked him what he used in place of it for those cement pathways found along the sides of streets and buildings, and he said he'd use causeway or pavement. Both those terms sound suspiciously like streets rather than sidewalks to me.

Accepting the fact I don't know much, which keeps being brought to my attention, regrettably, I thought I'd ask those of you who understand the language of those of you who stayed home and didn't cross the ocean so many centuries ago, is sidewalk really only an American term? Is it not used in England in speech or writing? And if not, what is used in place of it?

Cole

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Cole,

Here's what I found:

Wikipedia English - The Free Encyclopedia

Sidewalk

A sidewalk (chiefly North American English), pavement (British English and Philadelphia dialect), footpath (Australian English, Irish English, Indian English and New Zealand English) or footway (Engineering term) is a path for pedestrians that is situated alongside a road or formed like sidewalks that are alongside roads (such as a cement footpath through a park)...

Colin :icon_geek:

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From the Australian international study centre on the mysteries of why people don't speak and write proper OZ, comes the following.

Aussies use the word 'footpath', which is quite self-explanatory, I think.

However owing to our ancestors coming from the UK we are familiar with the term 'pavement'.

Pavement is also used to describe the material used to pave an area.

In addition because the US has bombarded Australia with Hollywood movies since our Federation in 1901, we are also familiar with the term 'sidewalk' and also 'board-walk' (the wooden version from cowboy movies, popular to use to get out of Dodge, usually before dawn.

Boardwalk is also used to describe walkways at seaside resorts. These should not be confused with Broadway which is a street in Manhattan, famous for its theatres. It has sidewalks too. :wink: ).

A causeway is generally considered to describe an access road or path built above water or sand, although it can also describe a road laid with cobblestones.

Sidewalks, footpaths, pavements, and causeways, are all used to describe the pedestrian walkway (walking area) usually running parallel alongside a road or street, avenue, highway, motorway, carriageway, etc. They are also used by young people to ride their bicycles (bikes) at great speed, much to the concern of old people who forget how much fun it was to scare old people. :spank:

You can of course put a footpath down the centre of a road in which case, it is then known as a 'median strip'. Some Aussies have taken this to mean that they should take off their clothes and "do it" in the middle of the road and not worry about who is watching from the footpath. :stare::icon11::icon_geek::hehe:

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Slow down there, you cosmopolitans. Here in the heartland, a 'footpath' only goes out to the privy. For longer journeys we have 'trails' that go 'yonder', although often you can't get there from here. We also have natural highways, called 'gullies' but you need to keep a weather eye out when you use them. They eventually lead to the sea.

James

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Now wait a minute here! Where's that dry, sophisticated, cutting-edge and oh so clever British wit that's so celebrated? These rejoinders were pretty common. If this is the best we can get, I may have to go all the way down under to get some really riveting, ribald and raucous ripostes. Come one, guys, you can do much better than that! We have higher standards than that at AD. :hehe:

C

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So let me get this right; when a British mother says to her kid, "Go play on the pavement" she's NOT trying to commit murder by vehicular misadventure?

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I have just confirmed with my fully Dutch mother, it is called "stoop", which of course means sometihing completely different in Canada and the States.

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So let me get this right; when a British mother says to her kid, "Go play on the pavement" she's NOT trying to commit murder by vehicular misadventure?

Great point, Trab. This is a good case against using Brit nannies in this country. Think of the children!

"Johnny, why did Suzy go play in the street?"

"You told her to, Nanny. She wanted to play on the lawn, but you told her to stay on the pavement. Dang, look how flat she is."

C

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Where's that dry, sophisticated, cutting-edge and oh so clever British wit that's so celebrated? These rejoinders were pretty common.

Sorry Cole, my Brittery is a little flat and and all I have to charge it with is a small apartment. Seems like I may be unable to lift your spirits for a while. Sorry - elevate your bourbon? :hehe:

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In many parts of the US, pavement refers to the asphalt used in the main part of a street. Ask our English and Aussie cousins what they call that!

Having lived in the UK for two years, I know the answer, but lets get the answer straight from the horses, erm, Emu's mouth, umm, beak, or whatever! :lol:

Rick

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In many parts of the US, pavement refers to the asphalt used in the main part of a street. Ask our English and Aussie cousins what they call that!

Having lived in the UK for two years, I know the answer, but lets get the answer straight from the horses, erm, Emu's mouth, umm, beak, or whatever! :icon_twisted:

Rick

From the orangutan's mouth:

We Aussies call asphalt, asphalt, sometimes. Most of the time we call it bitumen, pronounced, bitch_u_men. (bitchy men are something else.) :rolleyes:

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In many parts of the US, pavement refers to the asphalt used in the main part of a street. Ask our English and Aussie cousins what they call that!

Having lived in the UK for two years, I know the answer, but lets get the answer straight from the horses, erm, Emu's mouth, umm, beak, or whatever! :icon_twisted:

Rick

We call it Tarmac or more properly Tarmacadam.

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Thinking about it some more, Wibby was probably referring to airport runways, as opposed to those fashion industry walkways, pathways, elevated display devices.

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Still, despite the minor linguistic differences between the branches of the language, English, which is an outgrowth of early Celtic, Viking, Roman/Latin, German, and Old French influences all tossed into the blender, has proven its strength and resilience. Sure its a contradictory old cuss on occasion, owing to its various roots, but that also means it is flexible and adaptable, easily incorporating new words and concepts. So lets hear it for the Queen's English, the various American English dialects, Canadian English, Aussie English, and Kiwi English, with all their quirks and peculiarities!!

Hip, hip, Hooray! Cheers! and Huzzah!

:icon_twisted::rolleyes:

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I love our common language, and the quirks in it, too.

I read somewhere, and haven't tried to verify it, that many European languages have approximately 50,000 words in them, and that English has around 300,000. That that's one of many reasons it's so difficult for ESL people to learn.

That and there is no rhyme nor reason to our spelling and pronunciations based on spelling.

I also like the fact that a simple word can do so much heavy lifting. Here're the definitions of 'to':

Main Entry: 1to

Pronunciation: \tə, tu̇, ˈt?\

Function: preposition

Etymology: Middle English, from Old English tō; akin to Old High German zuo to, Latin donec as long as, until

Date: before 12th century

1 a?used as a function word to indicate movement or an action or condition suggestive of movement toward a place, person, or thing reached <drove to the city><went back to the original idea><went to lunch> b?used as a function word to indicate direction <a mile to the south><turned his back to the door><a tendency to silliness> c?used as a function word to indicate contact or proximity <applied polish to the table><put her hand to her heart> d (1)?used as a function word to indicate the place or point that is the far limit <100 miles to the nearest town> (2)?used as a function word to indicate the limit of extent <stripped to the waist> e?used as a function word to indicate relative position <perpendicular to the floor>

2 a?used as a function word to indicate purpose, intention, tendency, result, or end <came to our aid><drink to his health> b?used as a function word to indicate the result of an action or a process <broken all to pieces><go to seed><to their surprise, the train left on time>

3 ?used as a function word to indicate position or relation in time: as a: before <five minutes to five> b: till <from eight to five> <up to now>

4?used as a function word to indicate addition, attachment, connection, belonging, possession, accompaniment, or response <the key to the door><danced to live music><comes to her call>

5?used as a function word (1) to indicate the extent or degree (as of completeness or accuracy) <loyal to a man><generous to a fault> or the extent and result (as of an action or a condition) <beaten to death> (2) to indicate the last or an intermediate point of a series <moderate to cool temperatures>

6 a?used as a function word (1) to indicate a relation to one that serves as a standard <inferior to her earlier works> (2) to indicate similarity, correspondence, dissimilarity, or proportion <compared him to a god> b?used as a function word to indicate agreement or conformity <add salt to taste><to my knowledge> c?used as a function word to indicate a proportion in terms of numbers or quantities <400 to the box><odds of ten to one>

7 a?used as a function word (1) to indicate the application of an adjective or a noun <agreeable to everyone><attitude to friends><title to the property> (2) to indicate the relation of a verb to its complement or to a complementary element <refers to the traditions> (3) to indicate the receiver of an action or the one for which something is done or exists <gives a dollar to the man> and often used with a reflexive pronoun to indicate exclusiveness (as of possession) or separateness <had the house to themselves> b?used as a function word to indicate agency <falls to his opponent's blows>

8?used as a function word to indicate that the following verb is an infinitive <wants to go> and often used by itself at the end of a clause in place of an infinitive suggested by the preceding context <knows more than she seems to>

Main Entry: 2to

Pronunciation: \ˈt?\

Function: adverb

Date: before 12th century

1 a?used as a function word to indicate direction toward <run to and fro> b: close to the wind <the gale having gone over, we came to ? R. H. Dana>

2 a: into contact especially with the frame ?used of a door or a window <the door snapped to> b?used as a function word to indicate physical application or attachment <he?hath set to his seal ? John 3:33(Authorized Version)>

3?used as a function word to indicate application or attention <will stand to ? Shakespeare>

4: to a state of consciousness or awareness <brings her to with smelling salts>

5: at hand : by <get to see 'em close to ? Richard Llewellyn>

Cole

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One of my college English teachers once remarked, "English has more adjectives than any other language. Unfortunately, there are some writers out there who feel the need to use all of them in their stories."

So I totally agree with Cole: English is a terribly difficult language for foreigners to learn. Far too many idioms and idiosyncratic spellings, inconsistencies, you name it.

On the other hand, then you have French, Spanish, and Italian, where it seems every inanimate object is either male or female. "My car, she's a-stalled out-a on the street-a!"

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