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Personal Pet Peeve

karactr

For all of you writing these stories that I so enjoy, thank you very much!1

But...

If you are setting a story in the US and you are not used to American English this is just a quick word of advice.
A bum is a homeless individual usually supporting themselves as an itinerant laborer or by panhandling. Now, under some circumstances, you might want to rub one or even get inside one, but those are very limited circumstances. The American terms you are trying to use are butt or ass.
I am sorry, but using "bum" just drops me out of the environment--an American setting--that you are trying to create. Not enough to make me stop reading; just a slight, but noticeable, discontinuity.
Unless, the character is themselves a non-American. When only they use the term it can be quite endearing.

kara

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Wheezer

Ditto for fanny. In the USA it is another word for buttocks, not vagina or pussy.

Replies:   karactr  awnlee jawking
karactr

@Wheezer

Wheezer
12/24/2018, 6:08:58 PM

Ditto for fanny. In the USA it is another word for buttocks, not vagina or pussy.


I thought she was an American humorist, author and actress?

But (not butt, different word), I agree. It is just a minor annoying inconsistency. Like using bonnet for hood--or is it the trunk--or mum for mom, or lift for elevator, or combi for mini-bus, or utility--I think that's right--for a pick-up truck. Perfectly good words in their dialectic context, but they must be used appropriately for the desired dialect.

These terms, for me anyway, are almost as disconcerting as an older character saying that they never thought of being sexually attracted to 15 year old girls only to admit later in the story to having an affair with a barely 18 year old 30 years younger than themselves. An example of a discontinuity from a story I recently enjoyed.

kara

Ernest Bywater

@karactr

Unless, the character is themselves a non-American. When only they use the term it can be quite endearing.


As an author who frequently writes stories with non-US characters operating in the USA I wish to point out that the narrator is usually of the same nationality as the main character. Thus when I have the main character as a US born person, such as in Boone - the Early Years, then the story is written in US English for all of the the characters and the narrative, but when the the character is an Australian then he and the narrator use Australian English and the US characters they interact with use US English. This mix of language does cause my dictionary some headaches, but that's the way it is.

Replies:   karactr  Maclir
karactr

@Ernest Bywater

I have noticed that you DO make that effort in your works, sir. Some writers seem to go to great lengths to maintain consistency in dialogue, some don't.

It is not usually a total buzz kill while reading, but it does drop a reader (at least me) out of the immersion in the story.

kara

Maclir

@Ernest Bywater

As a non-US person living in the US, I no longer use terms like lift, bonnet, petrol... I use the appropriate US word, as I think most other Ausse ex-pats do. So, I think that an non-US character living in the US would not use the "non-US" term. But that's just me...

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Maclir

So, I think that an non-US character living in the US would not use the "non-US" term.


I would think a lot would depend on how recently they came to the use and whether or not it's intended to be a permanent relocation.

Replies:   samuelmichaels
samuelmichaels

@Dominions Son

I would think a lot would depend on how recently they came to the use and whether or not it's intended to be a permanent relocation.

Exactly right. And some will even code-switch -- use Australian terms when talking/writing to other Oz people; and American terms (and spelling!) for US audience.

Replies:   anim8ed
Tw0Cr0ws

Americans do not say car park, to an American that is a parking lot. If you say car park to an American they may look at you funny, as in not understanding what you mean.

anim8ed

@samuelmichaels

I am guilty of this code switching. Though not in a US / Non US situation. Even within the US there are regional slang... Pidgin in Hawaii for example. Having grown up in Hawaii I tend to drop back into pidgin with another pidgin speaker but otherwise use my normal California speak the rest of the time (okay, occasional bouts of Taglish sneak in also).

Banadin
Updated:

With me it is Ya'll when I'm south of the Mason Dixon
and a Pop in Ohio and a Soda in California and my English mother will always be me Mum.

awnlee jawking

@Wheezer

Ditto for fanny. In the USA it is another word for buttocks, not vagina or pussy.


In the AWLL saga by Michael Loucks, the protagonist's bum gets praised by his wives. Sadly neither of them has (yet) said: "Sweet fanny, Adams."

AJ

Replies:   Michael Loucks
Michael Loucks

@awnlee jawking

In the AWLL saga by Michael Loucks, the protagonist's bum gets praised by his wives. Sadly neither of them has (yet) said: "Sweet fanny, Adams."


And they never will! :-)

awnlee jawking

@Michael Loucks

And they never will! :-)


At the moment, the trio are Doctor Adams, Doctor Adams and Mister Adams.

If Steve were to be awarded an honorary doctorate, not far-fetched considering what he has contributed to the academic world, all three would be doctors.

Then if they made a trip to see Dr Todd in the UK, where it was standard practice (and might still be) to address top surgeons as 'Mister', then they'd be back to Doctor, Doctor and Mister, with Jessica being the 'Mister' instead of Steve ;)

AJ

richardshagrin

@Michael Loucks

"Sweet fanny, Adams."

"Other phrases about:
People's names
What's the meaning of the phrase 'Sweet Fanny Adams'?
Nothing.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Sweet Fanny Adams'?
The eight-year-old Fanny Adams was murdered in Alton, England in August 1867 by Frederick Baker, a 24-year-old solicitor's clerk. Her dismembered body was found in a field near the town. sweet fanny adamsShe was buried in Alton cemetery. The inscription on the headstone indicates the strength of feeling against the murderer:

Sacred to the memory of Fanny Adams aged 8 years and 4 months who was cruelly murdered August 24th, 1867.

Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul but rather fear Him who is able to kill both body and soul in hell. Matthew 10:28.

This stone was erected by voluntary subscription."

The case was the source of enormous public concern and newspaper reports of the time concentrated on the youth and innocence of the victim. Everyone living in England at the time would have known the name of 'sweet' Fanny Adams. With typical grisly humour, sailors in the British Royal Navy came to use the expression to refer to unpleasant meat rations they were often served - likening them to the dead girl's remains. Barrère and Leland recorded this usage in their A dictionary of slang, jargon and cant, 1889:

"Fanny Adams (naval), tinned mutton."

It wasn't until later that 'sweet Fanny Adams' came to mean 'nothing'. The term 'fuck all' has long been with us with that meaning, although how long isn't clear as politeness caused it not to be recorded in print until the 20th century. It surely dates back to at least the early 19th century. The coincidence of Fanny Adams' initials caused F.A. or 'Fanny Adams' to be used as a euphemism for 'fuck all'. Walter Downing, an Australian soldier who fought in Europe in the First World War, wrote an glossary of WWI soldier's slang called Digger Dialects in 1919. He is the first to record the link between F.A. (meaning 'fuck all') and Fanny Adams:

"F.A., 'Fanny Adams', or 'Sweet Fanny Adams' - nothing; vacuity."

Maclir

Sweet Fanny Adams = Sweet Fuck All

(At least in Australia....)

Remus2

It's a problem for people who've traveled a lot. They pick up a word or a phrase and it ends up incorporated into their everyday vernacular. For those people, they should get a pass.

The people that bug me are the wikipedia travellers followed by the tour guide travellers. The former not likely ever having left their home town, and the latter, never having ventured off the tour paths to experience something other than a spoon feed. The internet is great and wondermous, but it's a poor second to direct experience.

Given the above, I'll take an experience based out of place word or two over an internet google kung-fu expert any day.

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