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The nice and the good

May 24, 2014

Here’s another small but interesting difference between British English and American English: we say that things taste nice, while Americans say that they taste good. The two ways of putting it have slightly different connotations, to my ear. The American way makes food sound wholesome and healthy; the English way makes it sound pleasant and palate-tickling. I imagine that to American ears the English way sounds rather twee, if not infantile. Actually British English often seems to have this childish ring to Americans; I remember once telling an American friend that I was just ‘popping to the shops’ and she burst out laughing. When I asked her why she said: “You English – you’re always nippin’ and poppin’ to places!”

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One Comment
  1. Comedian Lucy Porter used to do a routine that highlighted US/UK linguistic differences – Abstemious Americans say “go for drinks” and mean one drink. Brits say “go for a drink” and mean get hammered.

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