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Questions about English used in the United States and Canada, but usually not Mexico.

10
votes
2answers
428 views

The meaning and usage of ‘stiffs’ in “Of Mice and Men”

I would really appreciate it if someone could confirm whether I have interpreted correctly the meaning of “stiffs” in the following excerpt “I had enough,” he said angrily. “You ain't wanted here. ...
2
votes
3answers
95 views

“The cat that got the cream” - is there any innuendo?

I think this is a British idiom. The American version would be, "The cat that killed the canary." I was about to say this to a female friend, intended as a "well done" sort of compliment, ...
-4
votes
1answer
40 views

initialised or initialized which one is correct spelling? [duplicate]

I have often seen initialised in lots of text, but when I want to write it in Microsoft office word, it says it was misspelled and it should be initialized instead of initialised. so here is my ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

“There is a woman with a snapper.”

So far, I haven't found a clue to this use of the word "snapper" (1851) to describe an energetic, irrepressibly attractive woman at any of the 19th century slang websites so far. Here is part of the ...
15
votes
5answers
1k views

Do native speakers of major English varieties actually say “a software” or “softwares”?

So I've looked up the word "software" around, and I've learned that -ware words are uncountable, and there's even a claim at the Wiktionary entry for this word that "a software" or "softwares" are a ...
0
votes
1answer
42 views

“How long do you have” — what does it mean?

"How long do you have?" -- What does that mean? The conversation regards my potential trip to another country to visit someone. It means how long I want to stay there? Or How many time I (will) ...
0
votes
1answer
41 views

“where can I find laundry detergent?” [duplicate]

If I was in a supermarket in the Us or Canada, it would be correct to ask this question for a sales associate? [Excuse me, where can I find laundry detergent?] Thanks in advance.
4
votes
1answer
99 views

Accented syllable after a glottal stop in NA English

Does anyone know of any studies on the change in use of accenting after a glottal stop? I am in my late 40s, and first heard this maybe 10 years ago used by an adult. I have a nephew who is 11, and it ...
0
votes
1answer
43 views

Meaning of these phrases

What is the meaning of "long way out" and "long way yet"? Like in a sentence :: We are all aware that our country has achieved self sufficiency in food but we have to go a long way _____ in order to ...
3
votes
1answer
126 views

The word Hindu in American English

I, as an Indian, am often surprised when the Americans use the word Hindu, when they actually mean The country of India The Indian subcontinent The Hindi language (possibly) whereas it should ...
5
votes
2answers
161 views

What is the local pronunciation of 'Chicago'?

What is the local pronunciation of Chicago? (specifically the 'a') The standard American English pronunciation is /ʃɪˈkɑ.ɡoʊ/, /ʃɪˈkɔ.ɡoʊ/ or (what I think) is the PALM or LOT lexical sets in ...
1
vote
3answers
279 views

The curious case of “UChi” and its pronunciation

The Free Dictionary tells me that UCHI is the acronym for The University of Chicago. But if that were the case, shouldn't it be TUOC? I visited the official university website and it says said Our ...
0
votes
2answers
118 views

When is it OK to start a sentence with “But”? [duplicate]

Is starting a sentence with a "But" still bad? I know some Harvard graduates who are native English speakers and do this when they write. Is it acceptable now? What are some of the examples where "...
1
vote
1answer
38 views

Is my sentence sounding formal? [closed]

I am having difficulties in describing a situation where there have been two lab tests A and B and where I receive two results without indicating which belongs to A and which to B. Can I ask: "Could ...
0
votes
1answer
439 views

Is it “what movie did you watch?” Or “ which movie did you watch?” [duplicate]

I’m confused about the right way of saying it. Please tell me the correct answer and why it is correct.
2
votes
2answers
159 views

Origins of “sure” meaning “yes” in American English

I notice that the use of the word "sure" to mean "yes" seems to be much more common in American English than in other dialects. Can anyone point to any evidence as to the origins of this divergence?
0
votes
0answers
23 views

What's it called when one uses “we” for the second person? [duplicate]

Is there a name for the practice of using "we" when referring to "you?" It seems to me to be most common when an adult is talking to one child or a group of children. E.g. What are we up to? or ...
0
votes
2answers
208 views

What does the expression “If + subject + was/were + infinitive” mean in American English

I just want to ask you guys about the general meaning of expressions that use the following pattern in colloquial American English: If + subject + was/were + infinitive, ... Examples: (Written by ...
1
vote
1answer
68 views

does the /d/ in the [nd] combo tend to be unreleased?

I'm asking about north-American English. In words like "refund", "band" and "diamond", is the /d/ is fully released (as an un-aspirated /d/), or stopped, like the /nt/ combo? (different can and ...
0
votes
1answer
55 views

Use of the article “the” when referring to an organization or entity

Is there a preferred use of "the" in American English when referring to an organization or entity? For example, on an episode of the "1A" on NPR, guests of the show referred to the U.S. Food & ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is “medicine” pronounced differently?

British English drops the unstressed second syllable to make it sound like med-sin /ˈmɛd.sɪn/. American English keeps it as a 3-syllable word meh-dee-sin /ˈmɛ.dɪ.sɪn/ In Australia I've only ever ...
49
votes
3answers
6k views

The “old switcheroo”: Where did the “-eroo” suffix come from?

The -eroo suffix works as an intensifier of sorts, though it also seems to have other, less well-defined properties. The online OED has only this to say about it: -eroo, suffix   ...
21
votes
1answer
3k views

The meaning of leaving someone back [ in American English ]

I just watched a great video (a kind of short documentary) about two educators who strive to afford better education for their students in a college in Red Hook (a neighborhood in Brooklyn). The video ...
3
votes
2answers
120 views

Word for the act of trying to change a new environment to match the one you came from

I heard this word years ago and can't seem to dig it out of my brain or search engines. Specifically, the conversation was about the type of people who move from the city out to a rural town to ...
50
votes
3answers
7k views

How did “biscuit” come to have a distinct meaning in North American English?

The Oxford Living Dictionary makes a clear distinction between the usage of biscuit in Britain and North America: British: A small baked unleavened cake, typically crisp, flat, and sweet. ‘a ...
0
votes
0answers
64 views

Where is this artist Clint Cearley's accent from?

So I just subscribed to this artist on YouTube, Clint Cearley. He'd sounded North American enough until he said words ending in -ing (which sounds like "-eeng"), and accurate (which sounds like "...
3
votes
3answers
126 views

What's an equivalent way of saying *friolenta* (from Spanish)?

My aunt is friolenta. She gets cold easily. But is there a better way to say this, that stays closer to the original construction, by being a simple adjective? Idle curiosity would make me ...
3
votes
1answer
280 views

metal, meddle, mettle, medal pronounciation in American English

Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English has the following phonetic symbols: meddle / ˈmedl; ˋmɛdl/ medal / ˈmedl; ˋmɛdl/ mettle / ˈmetl; ˋmɛtl/ metal / ˈmetl; ˋmɛtl/ ...
0
votes
0answers
11 views

High end or High-end? [duplicate]

I have doubts with many words that are used with a hyphen. For instance, high-end, user-experience and cutting-edge among others. Is 'high-end' UK based or US based writing style? are there any ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

What is the meaning of “tag up”?

I am not a native speaker, in a business environment, I saw my American colleagues use this term often in MS-Outlook (setting up meetings) and e-mails. For example, it might appear in a meeting notice'...
1
vote
2answers
101 views

AmE Equivalent for “people usually go to a cinema after going to a restaurant”

I would like to write the equivalent of "people usually go to a cinema after going to a restaurant and they usually choose the closest cinema to the restaurant" in American English. I think the ...
0
votes
1answer
120 views

Is it okay to use past tense when writing about a fictional story?

When talking about a book, or a fictional story we are required to use present tense. The question is: Can we use past tense if it is a flashback? Also, can we use past tense like in the sentence ...
0
votes
0answers
41 views

Midwestern, English [duplicate]

Is the word 'anymore' used enough in a positive context, to justify having its usage and definition in the dictionary. Such as "Anymore, it is hot all the time."
0
votes
0answers
3k views

Use of “proceed with something”

Is it normal to use "proceed with something" in American English speaking? Isn't it a little formal? Is there a better alternative? Can we use "do something" instead?
2
votes
0answers
221 views

“Cash me ousside” girl's speech

Danielle Bregoli, a.k.a. the "Cash me ousside" girl, became a meme after she appeared on the Dr. Phil Show. (See also: http://www.tmz.com/person/cash-me-outside-girl/) Is Bregoli's speech an affected ...
5
votes
1answer
164 views

Blending Two Individual Words Together That Share the Same Consonant Cluster

I've noticed that this phenomenon is common in fast speech. I have searched and searched on the internet for the official name for this, but I cannot seem to find it. Here are some examples: With ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Meaning of “What are your new coordinates”?

I have moved to a new job in a new country. One of my old colleagues send me an email asking "what are you new coordinates?". Does he/she mean what is your new contact information? Or it is an idiom ...
2
votes
1answer
574 views

What is the difference between “catch up with” and “follow up”?

I often hear "I'm going to catch up with him" or "I'm going to follow up with him" but I don't understand the difference.
1
vote
2answers
163 views

Term for reclaiming or restoring pride in social stigmas (“Taking it back”)?

UPDATE: (05/25/17) One word that was suggested was "own". While not perfect, it is close. Some more examples it made me think of to illustrate what I mean by flipping something negative into a ...
7
votes
2answers
415 views

How did an egg and cheese dish come to be known as “Woodchuck(s)”?

Our family just finished our traditional post-Easter dinner of colorful Woodchucks, and once again I am wondering about the origin of this odd recipe name. Some searching on the internet has turned up ...
6
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the origin of the American expression “s*** fire”?

Ever since I read a fictionalized account of Francis Drake’s adventures in James Michener’s The Caribbean (1989), I have been curious about the nickname of a ship known as the Cacafuego (literally ...
2
votes
1answer
195 views

What is the origin of the adjective “peaked” (pronounced “pea-ked”), meaning “tired” in American English?

I was watching the movie "In the Line of Fire" (1993) with Clint Eastwood and Rene Russo. In one of the scenes, Russo tells Eastwood, "you were looking a little pea-ked out there", meaning tired/...
0
votes
0answers
142 views

Meaning of “lit” seemingly undiscussed as of yet

In the Wikipedia article on the Skull and Bones secret society a quote attributed to Lanny Davis is given like so: "If the society had a good year, this is what the 'ideal' group will consist of: [...]...
2
votes
0answers
475 views

Pronunciation Rule for “nt” in the Middle of Words

Is there a "rule" or pattern for the pronunciation of "nt" in the middle of words, followed by a vowel (or "er" sound)? Here's what I have so far: 1) "t" is often omitted in words like "wanted," "...
2
votes
1answer
65 views

What does “sidehill garger” mean? (early 20th-century American literature)

I am reading "Wood-Folk Comedies: The Play of Wild-Animal Life on a Natural Stage" written by William J. Long, a naturalist and author, published in 1920. When I was reading it I had a word that I ...
0
votes
0answers
47 views

Word for when a situation requires context to fully understand it

Theres this one word which has slipped my mind and I really need to remember it. It's used for when someone is talking about a situation with a lot of different angles and contexts, the word describes ...
-1
votes
1answer
147 views

Saw you “talking” or “that you talked”

I always had a problem using right form of a verb/subject when it comes to describing an action performed by someone. What is the most common form of following in conversations . I saw you talking ...
0
votes
1answer
1k views

Do North Americans pronounce “solder” as “sodder”? [duplicate]

In a recent(-ish) episode of the Big Bang Theory, the men recruit the women to help out in the lab, and they had to do a lot of soldering. Throughout the episode the cast pronounced "solder" as "...
13
votes
2answers
25k views

Why do North Americans pronounce “caramel” as “carmel”?

"Caramel", which (clearly) has an "a" in the middle, has only this spelling world wide. But in my experience, North Americans (Canadians too) don't pronounce the middle "a". They pronounce it exactly ...
5
votes
6answers
832 views

What is a way to express 'a sudden need to urinate or defecate'?

If I have a sudden need to use the restroom, how should I express that? I know there is an expression in British English - be caught short. to suddenly and unexpectedly need to go to the toilet, ...