‘Divided By A Common Language’

A few humorous language ‘difficulties’ on WP prompted this ditty from me. A conversation about kilts and pants. And it wasn’t for the first time that comments with a fellow blogger took on a whole other meaning. Google doesn’t translate English to American or vice versa. Not that I know of.


Take a stroll on your sidewalk, my pavement,

Watch your ass or my arse on the kerb

Mind out for your trash and my rubbish

Our differences should not perturb

The fact that your fanny’s a bottom

While ours is a word I can’t say

And a name of a female or eejit

Irn Bru captured in ad for some days.

Your diapers are nappies, our trousers your pants,

Our pants are your underwear,

Your shit is our shite, but fuck is still fuck,

Good lord, it’s confusing, I swear!

You might wear a rubber, while I’d just erase,

And your fag’s not my cigarette,

Your sneakers are trainers, my randy your horny

Your buns are not iced/frosted as yet.

Your shag’s not my shag, cos ours copulates

While yours is a dance, I believe.

Your fries are my chips, your chips are my crisps

One language? Who would conceive?

I’ve been wasted; so touched by the pleasure,

Of words kindly said by a blogger.

On telling this truth she thought I was pished/pissed

Or high. It’s becoming a bugger

That words that I say with a smile and a nod

May be viewed with a frown or with glee,

While my reading here still guesses at some

Expressions not heard on TV.

I love it. It’s charming. It’s funny.

Like a joke that no one has used,

Except when we’re chatting and we each say a phrase

That leaves the other aghast, flummoxed/confused.

I’m thinking that we might need translations

To pass off the comments so jolly

A dictionary perhaps, in my boot or your trunk

Or maybe your cart or my trolley.

So before slagging off my sayings

Or I laugh at your craziest of phrase,

It might just be that like you, like me,

There are differences in all of our ways.

So Slainte to the Irish, the English,

Canadians, Scots, Aussies, the Welsh,

To the US of A and whose other Anglais

Is confused by our distinct vocal cords.

I’m all for the accents, the flavour,

The taste of a word said in prose

Or poesy fine, straight or in rhyme,

Though it helps if we sort out our codes. (zip or post)



Bear in mind when watching this that for us, well for me and my crew, this is not a word we would use in common parlance unless in the unlikely event that we met some female by this name. Or maybe, occasionally, if we were humorously calling someone an eejit/idiot/tosser.

On first hearing it in my living room, with some of my kids there, I was speechless. As were they. Then we fell about laughing. It was the talk of the place afterwards, everyone asking everyone else if they’d seen the new Irn Bru advert. Doesn’t take much to make us laugh! And Irn Bru’s very tasty too. Although it still wouldn’t persuade me to call any wean Fanny.




54 thoughts on “‘Divided By A Common Language’”

  1. That was delightful! And perhaps something I should keep posted for easy reference!
    I had to google Irn-Bru – and you are correct, the ad fell flat to my Canadian ears. But I can see where it would strike *your* funny bone.


    1. Glad you enjoyed it. There are so many others it’s a wonder we make sense of each other at all at times. 🙂 But it does make for some funny moments.
      Irn Bru ran a few of these ads and they were really humorous to us but you’d have to replace that word with something that would leave you sort of horrified at its use on daytime TV. I won’t go there. 😉 x


  2. Fanny gets used too much over here so it didn’t really have an impact, but when I replaced that with the word ‘dickhead’, that seemed to change the plot a bit 🙂 (very derogatory, implies a one track mind, can’t think outside the square, couldn’t think of anything even if your life depended on it. Basically an idiot. Oh, and nearly forgot, ugly to look at, flabby, useless unless you wish to go to the toilet and the lucky last, behind the door when they handed them out (meaning you got a tiny one, that’s why it implies ‘brainless’, only enough room for one thought at a time).
    Hope I was able to enlighten your vocabulary on Aussie slang at least (mind you, there are some really nasty one’s that I won’t go into here….it’s a family show 🙂 )


    1. We use that one here too though maybe not with so many connotations…usually just with an appropriate gesture from the head! Oh the endless possibilities of language astound. 😉 x


  3. Shag is a carpet here. I LOVE this, and I find it timely. I have found myself congregating with so many brits, scots, Irish and aussies on WordPress that I seem to have picked up some of their tongue. It was just this morning that I posted a comment that went something like:
    Now that’s wise, that is.
    No American says that. Ever. If we can’t figure out the dialect of our brothers and sisters overseas, then we ought to be free to ask. Love the poem. It should be freshly pressed.


    1. We’re certainly learning as we go along…picking up all sorts of phrases and idioms. Some are just more embarrassing than others. When I told someone I was wasted I couldn’t figure out initially what was so funny/weird. But I love it too. Makes for plentiful giggles.
      And shag is a carpet, not a dance? We might talk about a shaggy carpet or dog but it usually causes titters. Then again, so does ‘titters’.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the read. 🙂 x


  4. Masterful writing here and great fun! Thanks for getting my day off to a great start!


  5. I wondered when you would hit upon all our crazy words, especially how many times I have to ask you what you meant with the words you used in a reply. The commercial was great. I went on to watch one where it is a blind date of sorts. Funny.


    1. Irn Bru ads are usually really funny to us. I’m not sure how well they translate. But, I’m laughing at you saying about muisunderstanding my words. You’re well on the way to being a native. I’ve seen you writing ‘missus’ and ‘naw’ as if it’s becoming second nature. Right enough, that only works in Scotland. Woohoo! See you soon down the pub for some crack! Translation to follow should you need it. 😉 x


      1. Well, I am sure if I went down to the local ‘bar’ here I could find some crack as well. Both kinds: plumber butt crack or the drug. So, my dear, I am not ready for your pub just yet. I would be thinking I would get busted or go broke hanging out with you. I am working on it. I write arse a lot just not to totally offend all the people who get offended so easily. Hell, they probably get offended at WTF? so what am I to do.

        Peace & Love


      2. Our crack’s just some fine chatter. Like mindchatter. Right up your alley! No butts in sight (I hope!). No narcs. Good, ‘clean’ fun. And a right good laugh. You’d like our crack! 😉 x


      3. Sound’s good. Look for me and Wizard on the next boat over, or maybe the one after that. Tell ya’ what, take a coat, some grub, ‘cuz you might be waiting for a while. LOL


      4. Same here, I just get ‘branded’ and some people on FB even have the gall to defriend me. You know how that hurts? LOL


      5. Hey, got a suggestion/question. I could print out a bunch of pics of Scotland, but I wonder if you might send me a postcard or pic from a magazine sometimes. I am more interested in the land than the touristy places. Not too touristy, will probably visit some castles, since ya’ll live in one. I just don’t subscribe to any magazines which would have pics of Scotland, especially without a damn castle in it, and printing is going to take a lot of green ink. Let me know. I believe you have my address. Phone has changed though, so let me know via email what ya’ need.

        Peace & Love


      6. Let me see what I come up with. No fear for castles. There’s one fairly nearby but the rest are relics. Bit like myself. Lol. I’ll be in touch.x


  6. I’m a scot and once lived in Canada for a few years.

    I can still mind the mutual confusion and embarrassment when I asked some canadian friends where I could buy some rubbers (meaning plimsoles) 😆

    or the time I ordered a bowl of chilli in a restaurant and asked for some chips with it – and they asked what flavour of chips I wanted 😆


    1. Where are you from? I’m thinking not Scotland if you’ve not previously seen the Irn Bru ad – it truly had us doubled! But not the US if you know bollocks. I’m guessing England or Ireland or Wales! I’ll get into your page for a bit of discovery. Right now, I’m FB chatting with one of my lovely friends from blogland and she’s as bad a natter as me. Plus, I’m on my third hauf! Could be at it a while. lol. Thanks for the follow. I will return the visit.x


      1. You too. Now I want to know where you were born and where you live in England! I’ll pop over now and see if that’s all available on About. I’m good till I finish my hauf and my Las Vegas friend has given in! 🙂 x


  7. Brilliant! The change in meanings (and politeness) across different words for the same thing are surprising! Strange how connotations get attached to words!


  8. Very clever – your writing and the ad. No Irn Bru here in California, but I do love a play on words of different meanings. Lots of Fannie’s down through time, Fannie Brice is probably the most well known American Fanny. Wiki has a long list of women named Fanny and they range from Europe, England, America, Australia, Canada, etc. Keats was engaged to a Fanny, but I didn’t see any on the list from Scotland, so perhaps that explains the different connotation. And speaking of phrases or differences in words, we love Downton Abbey and wish the ‘slang’ sayings they use weren’t Americanized. I’d much prefer to hear words that would have truly been used in England in the early 1900’s. Makes me wonder if they use different common phrases for every country of distribution. Ah, the fun with differences in words.


    1. Thank you, Victoria. I love the differences in language and accents even although it does make for some confusion. I hadn’t given thought to the Americanizing of phrases in programmes but you have me wondering now too whether this is common practice when selling rights abroad. I’ve never actually seen Downton Abbey! Not a big telly fan here. But I’ve heard good things about it. Might just tune in now to check it out and spot the phrasing. Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad you enjoyed the piece. And the ad. Not too many Fannies here at all in Scotland. Well, not unless you count the fact that we have our fair share of eejits. 😉 x


  9. Eejits, yes, we have plenty of those here, tho’ they’re generally referred to in stronger language. Why is it that curse words or slang in other dialects don’t sound as rude as our own words? Arse, for instance, sounds so much more pleasant to my American ears than ass. Of course, the trendy word here in California these days is the F word, which I makes my skin crawl when used in speech or when written. Why use such an ugly, harsh word when there are so many words with a richer history and deeper connotation that could be chosen? Why not have fun with words and say something for it’s deepness rather than for shock value? Maybe I’ll start using eejit more. 🙂


    1. I like eejit. You can use it for so many grades of idiocy and it doesn’t even cause offence. Funny aboutthe arse/ass word and your perception. I think ass sounds so inoffensive. A bit like shit and shite here. Shit sounds like almost nothng in comparison to the other. We use both but ‘shite’ has strength and emphasis. Weird ways with words, right enough, eh? 😉


      1. Right, and it’s all in the ear of the hearer. Most likely based upon what they are used to hearing. 🙂


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