Two nations divided by a common language. (1 Viewer)

The question came up regarding "shotgun xxxx" and I can explain it easily. In New Orleans during the post-Civil War era and up through the great Depression that ended just before WW2, there was a style of housing called a "Shotgun Double" - built almost assembly-line style, in which you had two sets of living quarters side by side. These houses had no distinct hallway, but every door lined up with every other door. You usually had a living room/dining room combo in front, a kitchen, and maybe two bedrooms. Bathrooms were on the sides of the bedrooms so not in-line with the aforementioned doors. With all of the doors open, you could look straight through the front door and out the back door from the front porch. The colloquial description was that you could fire a shotgun through the front door and the shot would go out the back door and not hit any walls.

This style of housing was built during a time when such things COULD be built cheaply and when lots of folks didn't aspire to huge mansions. The most common form was the shotgun double though shotgun singles also were built. In fact, I lived in one for a while after I graduated with my Doctorate because, while I didn't take out a tuition loan and thus had no significant debts, I also had no extra money to speak of. It was livable as long as I didn't want to throw parties - which I didn't. Parties in a shotgun house were either yard parties or front-porch parties.

That "shotgun kitchen" is merely a kitchen where everything is off to one side or the other, nothing down the middle (except people maybe). But it IMPLIES that it is not square but rather is elongated and "skinny".
 
I said to an American friend: "I saw a pigeon pecking at a fag (cigarette) butt."

She said: "What? A pigeon was pecking at a homosexuals ass?"

I could get REALLY risque here... A pigeon would have been pecking at something and because of the vagaries of "regular" words (that follow strict rules of declension) that means he was pecking it with his pecker. Which leads to all sorts of speculation about how the homosexual would have felt about such actions due to the slang implications of what you peck with.
 
I have had problems explaining to an American that I was just "nipping outside for a quick fag".
 
I have had problems explaining to an American that I was just "nipping outside for a quick fag".
In the UK the word 'fag' can also mean something tiresome or time consuming. For example 'I dug the garden but it was a bit of a fag', or 'I walked all round the shops, it was a right fag'.
Col
 
In the UK the word 'fag' can also mean something tiresome or time consuming. For example 'I dug the garden but it was a bit of a fag', or 'I walked all round the shops, it was a right fag'.
Col
I have a different colloquialism for that, "Tiresome or time consuming" which I suspect would be equally difficult to translate.
" I walked down the river to the next village, it was quite a thug"
 
In south Louisiana - and many other USA areas - that usage is also sometimes called a "drag" - though there is a strong undercurrent of "boring" in that as well.
 
That's interesting, there is also the possibility of "suck, swallow or draw" with relation to a cigarette/other burning product.

"give us (me), a quick drag on your fag"
 
Oh, MAN, that phrase involves too many alternately vulgar and innocent meanings. Language is SO much fun.
 
I also love the different meanings of 'homely': virtual opposites. In the US it means ugly, but in UK it means comfortable or cosy - eg, a compliment.

And don't get me started on the spelling of aluminium - where according to my 1926 Webster's dictionary (US) the US spelling without the i shows in the entry for aluminium as 'also Aluminum reflecting the common mispronunciation.'
 
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@DickyP - ColinEssex and I have had that discussion. As a PhD chemist, I will tell you that BOTH pronunciations are allowed. The name comes from the mineral "alum" which is potassium aluminum sulfate.


If it hadn't been essentially overruled by committee, Sir Humphry Davy's name for it would have stuck at "alumium." You can read the history in the linked article. By the way, your 1926 dictionary entry is overruled by the 1925 action by the American Chemical Society, who reverted officially to "aluminum." The international organizations accept both spellings.
 
The international organizations accept both spellings.

Grudgingly! The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) adopted aluminium as the standard international name for the element in 1990. In 1993, they recognized aluminum as an acceptable variant. he most recent 2005 edition of the IUPAC nomenclature of inorganic chemistry also acknowledges this spelling. IUPAC official publications use the -ium spelling as primary, and they list both where it is appropriate.

It's a great subject as we can all argue for hours about it and nobody wins (or is right) :)
 
"nipping outside for a quick fag".
We used to use that term for a cigarette but we can no longer use it since it became a pejorative for being homosexual. Same with gay. Gay seems to have lost its natural meaning so it is also no longer used naturally.
 
We used to use that term for a cigarette but we can no longer use it since it became a pejorative for being homosexual. Same with gay. Gay seems to have lost its natural meaning so it is also no longer used naturally.

Not only that, but the gay community was recently seeking a new term because "gay" has ALSO become pejorative (as you point out). From what my stepdaughter has mentioned, they were looking at "festive" as an option. Of course, the problem there is that whatever name they choose will quickly become a pejorative because the hatred is directed to the group, whatever their chosen name.
 
Also being a "Dick" used to mean detective, but now it means A-hole. It's funny how it always comes back to body parts.:unsure:
 
Also being a "Dick" used to mean detective, but now it means A-hole. It's funny how it always comes back to body parts.:unsure:

Not always the same. After all, in Guardians of the Galaxy, it was a plot point that StarLord was one but not the other. Of course, StarLord's given name was "Peter" which is ALSO slang for a "Dick" so I suspect there was a bit of sneaky writing going on there anyway.
 
People who are somehow different seem to attract bullies. We need to do a better job of cancelling this behavior in children. Then maybe by the time the bullies grow up, they will be able to control their nastiness better.
 

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