UK/US: Confusing vocabulary
Auch wenn Sie Englisch fast wie Muttersprachler sprechen, lauern ge-fährliche Fallen.
When your English gets above a certain level, it gets easier to make mistakes. It may sound paradoxical, but to a certain extent it’s true. The reason is that the more advanced the language is, the more it depends on images, metaphors and phrasal verbs. And these can be difficult even for native speakers, especially if they come from opposite sides of the Atlantic.
Secretary Today has been looking out for these confusing words and expressions in the media. Note them down to save yourself from making embarrassing mistakes. For example, the verb to table.
How would you understand the following item from a recent BBC news broadcast:
“British Prime Minister Tony Blair tabled a resolution requiring action not only against people who practi ce terror, but also against those who encourage and support it”?
Does Mr Blair want to talk about a resolution, or does he not want to talk about a resolution?
If you speak British English, you will have understood – correctly – the PM wanted the resolution dicussed (brought to the table). If you speak American English, you will be under the false assumption that he did not want to talk about the resolution (have it left on the table).
According to Winston Churchill, who was Prime Minister during the Second World War, even back then the verb to table caused problems, with the British military wanting a matter tabled immediately because it was important, and the Americans insisting it should in no case be tabled because it was too important.