Monday, September 21, 2009

Separated by a common language: the Biblical Studies edition

One of my favourite blogs, as a British resident alien living in America, is Separated by a Common Language, which offers some fascinating and, in my experience, always accurate reflections on the differences between British English (BrE) and American English (AmE). Well, now that AKMA has made the opposite journey from the one I have made, going from American academia to British, I thought I might offer a few suggestions about how things differ when lecturing on Biblical Literature and History. He's already attempting to master the art of adding "u" to certain words but here are a few more specific suggestions for being understood in being understood as a successful (BrE:) lecturer (AmE: professor).

Pauline: AmE: "PaulEEn"; BrE: "PaulIne". Similarly AmE: "PhilistEEns"; BrE: "PhilistInes"

1 Corinthians (etc.): AmE: "First Corinthians" (etc.); BrE: "One Corinthians".

Isaiah: AmE: "IzAYah". BrE: "IzIah"

Caesarea: AmE: "SEzarea"; BrE: "SEEzarea" (But I think Americans talk about "SEEzar and not SEZar).

There are one or two things in university life too that may be worth a mention. I caused all kinds of confusion over my misunderstanding about this one:

Review: AmE for BrE "revise".

And this is one that is still surprises me:

Freshmen: AmE non-gender-inclusive term meaning "freshers". I understand that in the UK, we went gender-inclusive on this one back in the 60s. I have begun the advocacy of the term "fresher" here in the US by using it in my classes at Duke, but it will be slow progress getting this one out there more generally. (But when it does happen, remember that the revolution began here!).

Update (19.06): I am grateful to Lynne Murphy, author of Separated by a Common Language, for her comments on this post. She points to her discussion of the review / revise issue and notes all the posts with the education label.


Christopher Heard said...

W/r/t "freshman," you may find that "frosh" and "fish" have already been used in American English for quite a while for the purpose you desire. All of our official communications these days use the more cumbersome "first-year student."

lynneguist said...

Thanks for the link! I've transcended beyond resident alien, though, to Citizen Alien!

I've covered a lot of the academic terms, including revise/review. If you'd like to see them as a group, here's a link to all of the 'education'-tagged posts.

Anonymous said...

You risk becoming known as the NRSV of UnE (University English) :)

at Georgia Tech we just called them RATS!

Doug said...

I'd say that "First Corinthians" etc is now beginning to become an alternative use in BrE as well. And I confess to using it in my blog tags too!

Mark Goodacre said...

Chris -- yes, some of my students have assumed that I am saying "frosher" when I say "fresher".

Lynne -- what an honour (honor!) to have you comment on my blog. I am a long time reader, and have commented over on my Resident Alien blog too, . Thanks especially for the revise / review link. Your experience is just like mine but the opposite. My Duke students were horrified when I mentioned that I wanted them to "revise their mid-term essays" to prepare for their final exam! It took a lot of question-and-answer before we all worked out what on earth we were talking about.

Thanks, Scot. Ha ha.

Creeping Americanization, Doug?

Matt Page said...

Coincidentally, just yesterday I listened to your Duke Online thing and noticed that you now seem to pronounce the name of your university as "Dook", rather than "Jook". I have to concede that the Americans have a point on that one.


AKMA said...

Mark, thanks for the guidance. I was already on top of the revise/review distinction, and for some reason I think I usually say "SEEZarea" anyway (it's hard to think, now that the topic has come up explicitly). But I'll watch out for One Corinthians (and Two Cor, presumably, likewise Thes and Pete?). And I tend to say "Paul-eye-ne" to avoid the possible overtones of a woman's name.

My question is, how does one communicate that we might alter something? In other words, where I would ordinarily say "We can revise the syllabus," I suppose I should say "change" or "alter"?

I have liked "Freshers," though. I mean, "thuouguh."

Doug said...

Mark – possibly since I'm linguistically promiscuous. For example I really like the American use of "thru" for an inclusive "to" as in Monday thru Friday. And, however you spell it, I wouldn't mind betting you've adopted the idiom.

Mark Goodacre said...

Matt -- oh yes, gone native. Dook it is.

AKMA -- I think revise means both in England, sorry Britain, so I would "revise the syllabus".

Doug -- I know what you mean about that usage. Very useful. I think I have tended to say "Monday to Friday inclusive" but I suppose "thru" saves valuable syllables.