1677: "Contrails"

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1677: "Contrails"

Postby Eutychus » Fri May 06, 2016 5:33 am UTC

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Alt Text: "Astronomy (or "astrology" in British English) is the study of ..."

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby rhomboidal » Fri May 06, 2016 6:06 am UTC

"Linguistic" is actually Australian English. American English is "lymphatic."

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby commodorejohn » Fri May 06, 2016 6:11 am UTC

Careful, now, this kind of thing could get innocent people assaulted by mobs of angry rationalists!
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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby Wee Red Bird » Fri May 06, 2016 7:17 am UTC

It's usually the other way around. Most people in the UK know American terms, but Americans don't usually know the British ones.
Looking for a chemist to buy some cotton buds usually causes confused looks when said on the wrong side of the pond.

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby orthogon » Fri May 06, 2016 8:33 am UTC

Wee Red Bird wrote:It's usually the other way around. Most people in the UK know American terms, but Americans don't usually know the British ones.
Looking for a chemist to buy some cotton buds usually causes confused looks when said on the wrong side of the pond.

I had the same reaction, but on reflection decided I ought to give Randall/Cueball the benefit of the doubt: just because lots of USAians don't speak British English doesn't mean that the more educated internationalists don't have a high degree of bilingualism.

But, yeah, my second thought was that there are already quite enough "false friends" between the two languages that can lead to anything from frustration to embarrassment. The hapless Brit in the strip (WHG?) is going to have enough trouble Stateside without further interference. My dad tells a story of asking for "a really big rubber" in a "drugstore" in Florida: he meant "eraser" and apparently a "rubber" is a condom. Having said that, I've since heard "rubber" used to mean "wellington boot", so I wonder whether there's even variation within the US, or whether it simply has both meanings everywhere.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby Wee Red Bird » Fri May 06, 2016 8:53 am UTC

orthogon wrote:But, yeah, my second thought was that there are already quite enough "false friends" between the two languages that can lead to anything from frustration to embarrassment.


It does slip the mind sometimes. I've had the disappointment of ordering chips only to find that they were really crisps. Even though it was a Scottish* themed pub.

*Scottish themed pubs are usually Irish themed pubs with a bit of tartan thrown on top as if the designer didn't really know the difference between the two.

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby Echo244 » Fri May 06, 2016 9:17 am UTC

Should have ordered the Glasgow Salad instead. ;-P
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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby orthogon » Fri May 06, 2016 10:10 am UTC

Wee Red Bird wrote:
orthogon wrote:But, yeah, my second thought was that there are already quite enough "false friends" between the two languages that can lead to anything from frustration to embarrassment.


It does slip the mind sometimes. I've had the disappointment of ordering chips only to find that they were really crisps. Even though it was a Scottish* themed pub.

*Scottish themed pubs are usually Irish themed pubs with a bit of tartan thrown on top as if the designer didn't really know the difference between the two.


On arriving in New Orleans many years ago, my friends and I headed for a bar. I remember thinking "this is so quintessentially American: the decor, the blue baize on the pool table, the long bar you can sit at; it's just like being in a movie". A few days later we walked past the same bar and noticed on the outside it was billed as an "English pub".
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby CharlieP » Fri May 06, 2016 10:36 am UTC

Wee Red Bird wrote:It does slip the mind sometimes. I've had the disappointment of ordering chips only to find that they were really crisps.


On my first night in Niseko, Japan with two friends, we ordered "garlic chips" as an add-on to our meal, expecting (for the price) to get a side order of fries. Half-way through eating our meals (closest description: bowls of curry soup) we realised no such accompaniment had arrived. It turned out that "garlic chips" was as literal as you can get, being the shaved segments of a clove of garlic we could see floating in our bowls.
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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby CharlieP » Fri May 06, 2016 10:37 am UTC

Wee Red Bird wrote:It's usually the other way around. Most people in the UK know American terms, but Americans don't usually know the British ones.
Looking for a chemist to buy some cotton buds usually causes confused looks when said on the wrong side of the pond.


Indeed, Americans don't find it odd at all that Superman wears his pants on the outside.
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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby CharlieP » Fri May 06, 2016 10:40 am UTC

Wee Red Bird wrote:It's usually the other way around. Most people in the UK know American terms, but Americans don't usually know the British ones.


On a worrying note, globalisation and our exposure to American TV means that American terms are usurping the traditional British ones. Most people would probably be more familiar with an "autopsy" than a "post mortem", "train station" is, annoyingly, as or more common than "railway station", and "airplane" is creeping in alongside "aeroplane".
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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby Soupspoon » Fri May 06, 2016 10:52 am UTC

CharlieP wrote:
Wee Red Bird wrote:It's usually the other way around. Most people in the UK know American terms, but Americans don't usually know the British ones.


On a worrying note, globalisation and our exposure to American TV means that American terms are usurping the traditional British ones. Most people would probably be more familiar with an "autopsy" than a "post mortem", "train station" is, annoyingly, as or more common than "railway station", and "airplane" is creeping in alongside "aeroplane".

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby HES » Fri May 06, 2016 12:00 pm UTC

CharlieP wrote:"train station" is, annoyingly, as or more common than "railway station"

I'll allow this. It's not like we're not calling them "railroad stations". See also: Bus station, Coach station.
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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby Muswell » Fri May 06, 2016 12:16 pm UTC

Quick straw-poll in my (predominantly British) office - none of us would call them contrails, most would call them vapour trails, one guy had no idea what I was talking about could I please leave him alone he had work to do.

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby ucim » Fri May 06, 2016 12:31 pm UTC

So what, with equipment and knowledge easily available to, say, a high school science teacher, could be done to debunk the idea that contrails are not mainly water droplets, whose prevalence is a function of weather conditions (as opposed to masses of chemical tubing hidden in jetliners), other than cataloging their appearance for a year vs upper air sounding rocket reports (garnered, of course, from the very government that is the head of the supposed conspiracy) and public FAA radar reports (from the same source, of course)?

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby cellocgw » Fri May 06, 2016 12:33 pm UTC

orthogon wrote: My dad tells a story of asking for "a really big rubber" in a "drugstore" in Florida: he meant "eraser" and apparently a "rubber" is a condom. Having said that, I've since heard "rubber" used to mean "wellington boot", so I wonder whether there's even variation within the US, or whether it simply has both meanings everywhere.


Yep, it used to refer to the boot, and was referred to in newspaper adds as "rubbers." But I don't think I've seen it used that way since the '70s.

The confusion over chips, biscuits, and pudding remains to this day. And I don't think Americans, even when they learn what it means, will ever be comfortable taking the piss.

Marginally related, 'Scuse me, while I kiss this guy. :oops:
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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby jc » Fri May 06, 2016 12:42 pm UTC

Muswell wrote:Quick straw-poll in my (predominantly British) office - none of us would call them contrails, most would call them vapour trails, ...


Yeah; the main problem with trying to distinguish "British English" from "American English" is that both of them are piles of dialects with long lists of incompatibilities.

A few years back, a linguistics field worker here in New England (the one in the northeast of USA, not the one in the southeast of Australia) wrote an interesting article about the local dialect on Martha's Vineyard and how it was diverging from the speech of the mainland. It included examples where the island natives were talking openly and insultingly about visiting "summer people", who didn't understand that they were being insulted.

The idea that modern communications are unifying our speech turns out to be just a myth; the reality is that dialects are evolving and diverging about as much as they always have been.
Last edited by jc on Fri May 06, 2016 12:45 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby rmsgrey » Fri May 06, 2016 12:43 pm UTC

ucim wrote:So what, with equipment and knowledge easily available to, say, a high school science teacher, could be done to debunk the idea that contrails are not mainly water droplets, whose prevalence is a function of weather conditions (as opposed to masses of chemical tubing hidden in jetliners), other than cataloging their appearance for a year vs upper air sounding rocket reports (garnered, of course, from the very government that is the head of the supposed conspiracy) and public FAA radar reports (from the same source, of course)?

Jose


That would come under the general heading of "proving a negative". You could probably make a simple cloud chamber and show that, under the conditions where clouds form, an object moving through will make a cloud that looks like a contrail, but that wouldn't prove that planes don't pump additional stuff out to be camouflaged by the contrails...

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby Showsni » Fri May 06, 2016 1:14 pm UTC

I think the most confusing one as a child was reading American stories where they referred to "bangs." I didn't realise they were simply referring to a fringe for a long time...

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby Ken_g6 » Fri May 06, 2016 1:18 pm UTC

Later: "My astrological observing last night was blocked by all the chemtrails."

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby HES » Fri May 06, 2016 1:35 pm UTC

Showsni wrote:I think the most confusing one as a child was reading American stories where they referred to "bangs." I didn't realise they were simply referring to a fringe for a long time...

So that's what they are. I knew they were something hair related, but didn't realise it was as boring as a fringe.
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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby ShuRugal » Fri May 06, 2016 1:36 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
ucim wrote:So what, with equipment and knowledge easily available to, say, a high school science teacher, could be done to debunk the idea that contrails are not mainly water droplets, whose prevalence is a function of weather conditions (as opposed to masses of chemical tubing hidden in jetliners), other than cataloging their appearance for a year vs upper air sounding rocket reports (garnered, of course, from the very government that is the head of the supposed conspiracy) and public FAA radar reports (from the same source, of course)?

Jose


That would come under the general heading of "proving a negative". You could probably make a simple cloud chamber and show that, under the conditions where clouds form, an object moving through will make a cloud that looks like a contrail, but that wouldn't prove that planes don't pump additional stuff out to be camouflaged by the contrails...



Alternately, you could walk them through the math and show that even if the plane was full of poison gas, release at that altitude and along that much of a fight path would be far below the ld50 of, say, sarin by the time it reached the ground.

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby ucim » Fri May 06, 2016 1:42 pm UTC

ShuRugal wrote:Alternately, you could walk them through the math and show that even if the plane was full of poison gas, release at that altitude and along that much of a fight path would be far below the ld50 of, say, sarin by the time it reached the ground.
Depends on the poison, and how many planes are involved. (I've seen the sky full of contrails on some days.)

Of course, a sky full of chemtrails means a sky full of specially modified planes that are carrying chemicals instead of passengers, and thus probably stored in a secret underground hanger and only used on those days.... but believers seem ok with that. :/

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby HES » Fri May 06, 2016 1:47 pm UTC

My favoured approach to conspiracy theorists is to point out that the government is far too incompetent to orchestrate something on the scale, efficiency and secrecy required to pull these things off.

Edit: Apparently I'm far to incompetent too spell.
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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby Jackpot777 » Fri May 06, 2016 1:54 pm UTC

At last, someone that speaks the Queen's own (bless her). We had a bunch of chavs (probably with ASBOs) chucking packets of Monster Munch and johnnies filled with Tizer (what kind of norbert does that?) at my nan's caravan outside her bungalow a fortnight ago when she was watching Corrie. We called the Old Bill but they didn't do Sweet Fanny Adams, it was a right carry on, bare nasty. They were bang out of order. Then it all kicked off when one of them called my mate ginger beer and he smacked seven bells of shit out of the little wanker. What a palaver, you feel me?

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby Jackpot777 » Fri May 06, 2016 1:55 pm UTC

HES wrote:is far to incompetent


It's quite a ways, true, but you could probably get there before it closes if you set off now.

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby Carlington » Fri May 06, 2016 1:59 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
ShuRugal wrote:Alternately, you could walk them through the math and show that even if the plane was full of poison gas, release at that altitude and along that much of a fight path would be far below the ld50 of, say, sarin by the time it reached the ground.
Depends on the poison, and how many planes are involved. (I've seen the sky full of contrails on some days.)

Of course, a sky full of chemtrails means a sky full of specially modified planes that are carrying chemicals instead of passengers, and thus probably stored in a secret underground hanger and only used on those days.... but believers seem ok with that. :/

Jose
Oh, it needn't be poison! My boss at my previous job was convinced that it was cloud-seeding. Why cloud-seeding? His evidence was that it would always come over cloudy above the harbour before 9, just in time for all the office workers to be arriving at their workplaces. If it was bright and sunny outside, people would spend the day looking out at the harbour and the lovely weather and wanting to be out enjoying the sunshine instead of working, and so productivity would decline (and people would be less obedient to boot). By keeping it overcast at certain times, that wilfulness could be kept under control, and the government and corporations keep us under their collective thumb.
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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby orthogon » Fri May 06, 2016 2:04 pm UTC

jc wrote:A few years back, a linguistics field worker here in New England (the one in the northeast of USA, not the one in the southeast of Australia) wrote an interesting article about the local dialect on Martha's Vineyard and how it was diverging from the speech of the mainland. It included examples where the island natives were talking openly and insultingly about visiting "summer people", who didn't understand that they were being insulted.

The idea that modern communications are unifying our speech turns out to be just a myth; the reality is that dialects are evolving and diverging about as much as they always have been.


That may be true, but I'm not convinced that "summer people" is a good example. That seems like terminology for something specific to the area, in the same way that Londoners talk about "the Tube", as opposed to a difference in vocabulary. Also, it's intended to be derogatory to the outsiders to which it refers, so you might expect it to be deliberately incomprehensible. There are lots of similar words for visitors from outside: gringo and grockle spring to mind. The point is that the word emphasises the referent in its geographical particularity rather than as an example of a more general class. The Tube (like Le Metro, The Subway etc) is specifically that underground railway in London (or Paris, or NYC). "Summer People" are presumably specifically summer holidaymakers from the mainland in Martha's Vineyard, as opposed to American tourists in Mexico or Londoners in Cornwall Devon or whatever. To be convinced of genuine divergence I'd like to see differences in words used for exactly the same referent.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby Sir Lunch-a-lot » Fri May 06, 2016 2:30 pm UTC

jc wrote:Yeah; the main problem with trying to distinguish "British English" from "American English" is that both of them are piles of dialects with long lists of incompatibilities.


Trying to deal with those linguistic compatibility (and occasional circular dependency) issues used to be a nightmare. Then I started using apt... :D

On a different tangent, does Cueball strike anyone else as being the Black Hat Guy of language/semantics and such marginally related things? I mean, take a look at the various "My Hobby" strips, and he seems to keep abusing words and just all around messing with people.

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby Justin Lardinois » Fri May 06, 2016 5:36 pm UTC

Wee Red Bird wrote:It's usually the other way around. Most people in the UK know American terms, but Americans don't usually know the British ones.
Looking for a chemist to buy some cotton buds usually causes confused looks when said on the wrong side of the pond.


I think most Americans could figure out cotton buds, since we call them cotton balls. But chemist would confuse most, since we exclusively use that term to describe someone who does chemistry in a laboratory. Which reminds me, Brits actually pronounce all the syllables in that last word, right? In American we say lab-ra-tory.

orthogon wrote:Having said that, I've since heard "rubber" used to mean "wellington boot", so I wonder whether there's even variation within the US, or whether it simply has both meanings everywhere.


As an American, I've never heard the term wellington boot. We just call them rubber boots, or rain boots since that's primarily when they're worn and there generally aren't boots made of other materials marketed as useful in the rain. Sometimes higher-quality boots will be called fishing boots. I've never heard them called rubbers so that must be a very old usage.

orthogon wrote:On arriving in New Orleans many years ago, my friends and I headed for a bar. I remember thinking "this is so quintessentially American: the decor, the blue baize on the pool table, the long bar you can sit at; it's just like being in a movie". A few days later we walked past the same bar and noticed on the outside it was billed as an "English pub".


The usage of the word pub in American English has been changing recently and it's interesting. Of course we've had English-themed restaurants called pubs for years (we have a popular chain called Britannia Arms, sometimes even with bad fake accents) but now it's being more generally used to refer to bars that also serve fried food that's of high enough quality that you might actually visit just for the food. There's also the term gastropub, which I've never really been able to nail down a definition for but seems to live up to its name in that the food they serve is often difficult to digest.

CharlieP wrote:
Wee Red Bird wrote:It's usually the other way around. Most people in the UK know American terms, but Americans don't usually know the British ones.


On a worrying note, globalisation and our exposure to American TV means that American terms are usurping the traditional British ones. Most people would probably be more familiar with an "autopsy" than a "post mortem", "train station" is, annoyingly, as or more common than "railway station", and "airplane" is creeping in alongside "aeroplane".


I've also read that this is a problem when it comes to depictions of the legal system: many shows set in the UK, even ones made there, will show courtrooms that seemingly operate with the procedures and laws of American courts, apparently unaware of striking differences between them, and as a result many Brits actually have a lot of misconceptions about how a UK courtroom works.

jc wrote:It included examples where the island natives were talking openly and insultingly about visiting "summer people", who didn't understand that they were being insulted.


I don't understand how you couldn't figure that out. Especially on an island frequented by tourists in the summer. I guess it vaguely sounds like it could be a euphemism for something, but the literal interpretation is right there.

HES wrote:
Showsni wrote:I think the most confusing one as a child was reading American stories where they referred to "bangs." I didn't realise they were simply referring to a fringe for a long time...

So that's what they are. I knew they were something hair related, but didn't realise it was as boring as a fringe.


As an American, neither term really makes sense to me. Looking at the other definitions of both words, I don't see how either came to refer to hair.

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby HES » Fri May 06, 2016 6:25 pm UTC

Justin Lardinois wrote:I think most Americans could figure out cotton buds, since we call them cotton balls.

No you don't. You call them "Q-tips" or "cotton swabs".
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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby ucim » Fri May 06, 2016 6:25 pm UTC

Brought up in the northeast US;

Boots (usually made of rubber) are worn over shoes and go partway up the calf. They are generally thick and clunky.

Rubbers are thin and flexible, cover (most of) the shoes and nothing else.

"Rubber"(n) is also a card-playing term (I think referring to bridge; dunno as I don't play bridge). I think it means the game played after one deal, or one round of deals.

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri May 06, 2016 7:00 pm UTC

Big rubber boots worn over the shoes for water protection are "galoshes" to me, from southern California.
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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby da Doctah » Fri May 06, 2016 7:15 pm UTC

The Brit term "school leaver" messed me up for a long time. To American ears, it sounds like it should mean "drop-out".

Also, I must have listened to the Abbey Road album for thirty years before it hit me that "Mean Mr Mustard" wasn't cruel but just stingy.

And I'll never understand why the Greek-derived "epinephrine" had to replace the perfectly-good Latinate "adrenalin".

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby ucim » Fri May 06, 2016 7:16 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Big rubber boots worn over the shoes for water protection are "galoshes" to me, from southern California.
We used that term too, but IIRC it was not as specific. Boots and rubbers were both galoshes.

Picturesque word, that.

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby Muswell » Fri May 06, 2016 7:17 pm UTC

Jackpot777 wrote:At last, someone that speaks the Queen's own (bless her). We had a bunch of chavs (probably with ASBOs) chucking packets of Monster Munch and johnnies filled with Tizer (what kind of norbert does that?) at my nan's caravan outside her bungalow a fortnight ago when she was watching Corrie. We called the Old Bill but they didn't do Sweet Fanny Adams, it was a right carry on, bare nasty. They were bang out of order. Then it all kicked off when one of them called my mate ginger beer and he smacked seven bells of shit out of the little wanker. What a palaver, you feel me?


Inni' tho.

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby AndrewGPaul » Fri May 06, 2016 7:45 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:
jc wrote: examples where the island natives were talking openly and insultingly about visiting "summer people", who didn't understand that they were being insulted.


That may be true, but I'm not convinced that "summer people" is a good example. That seems like terminology for something specific to the area, in the same way that Londoners talk about "the Tube", as opposed to a difference in vocabulary.


Justin Lardinois wrote:I don't understand how you couldn't figure that out. Especially on an island frequented by tourists in the summer. I guess it vaguely sounds like it could be a euphemism for something, but the literal interpretation is right there.


I think he meant that there were plenty of (other, not mentioned) terms in the island dialect that were insulting, but only if you spoke the dialect; not that the term "summer people" was the insult.

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby rmsgrey » Fri May 06, 2016 7:50 pm UTC

Justin Lardinois wrote:[...]laboratory. Which reminds me, Brits actually pronounce all the syllables in that last word, right? In American we say lab-ra-tory.


I'll usually just say "lab" but if I want the whole word, it's more like "la-bo-ra-tree" (most stress on the second syllable)

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby teelo » Fri May 06, 2016 8:05 pm UTC

The native language in Australia is not English, it is Australian.

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Re: 1677: "Contrails"

Postby Soupspoon » Fri May 06, 2016 8:11 pm UTC

Justin Lardinois wrote:As an American, I've never heard the term wellington boot. We just call them rubber boots, or rain boots since that's primarily when they're worn and there generally aren't boots made of other materials marketed as useful in the rain. Sometimes higher-quality boots will be called fishing boots. I've never heard them called rubbers so that must be a very old usage.
Well, Arthey Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington never did go to the Americas, I think, so probably didn't get popularised that side of the Pond. Although I'm not sure if Lord Sandwich did, either, or Lord Cardigan, or... ;)

We tend to call them Wellies, though, at least the generalised rubber boot (rather than the extended knee-protecting cavalry footwear, originally developed and named after the Duke). And 'sarnies' and 'cardies', if it comes to that...

And 'fishing boots' are generally called 'waders', as their waist-high nature as waterproof one-piece trousered-boots/booted-trousers allows the fisherman to wade into deep parts of a river. Sea-fishing clothes to be used on boats tends to be 'oilskins' including the hooded-jacket component, at least in my experience, derived from the treated fabrics used in pre-rubber/plastic days, of course. But I've no doubt there's more modern terms, like PPE and the Survival Suit which is essentially an enhanced drysuit over whatever inner layers the seaman in question dons as under-apparel.

I'm sure traditional names varied quite a lot, all around the coastline/across the land, so I probably haven't mentioned many traditional names for such togs.


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