While Winston Churchill stole and adapted the phrase from playwright George Bernard Shaw, Shaw in turn had stolen and adapted it from Oscar Wilde, the phrase being in reference to Britain and the United States, the US probably not so united when the the matter was first noted by Wilde. The phrase is, two countries divided by a common language. Poor old Australia is caught in the middle, mostly opting for the British way, but at times the American way, and at other times, we ourselves are just confused.
I am quite aware of American term, fanny pack, but not everyone is. Here we used to call it a bum bag. I am not a hip young thing, so I am not sure of current terminology but young Australians would probably know what you mean if you said bum bag. The American meaning of the word bum is known to Australians, a street person or a person down on their luck. I want to say hobo but that is a US word too. Australia has its own terms for such people.
In the US fanny means bum, butt, ass and I believe they at times even say arse. Fanny means something completely different in the UK and it used to in Australia too. Maybe it still does. Recalling an horrific childhood experience was a moment when to me or to someone it was explained that a baby came out of a woman's front bottom. The UK knows the word fanny as a woman's front bottom, not her rear bottom.
s onSo, slap a US woman on her fanny, she might take great offence. Slap a UK woman on her fanny, you will probably be locked up. We poor old Australians just adapt to the differences as best we can and take it in context.
Enough fanny slapping. Where it really goes wrong for Australians is with chips. Again this may not apply to young people. In Britain cut up potatoes cooked in fat or oil are called chips. In America they are called French fries or just fries. In Britain the baked and salted or flavoured crisp potato slices bought in a packet are called crisps, in America they are called chips.
Once again, poor old Australia is stuck in the middle, or at least middle aged Australians like me are, who reject the McDonalds corporation and everything it stands for. I refuse to use the term French fries or fries. They are chips, and even in a weak moment when I visit McDonalds, I always say chips.
The problem is for Australians is we never really adopted the British word, crisps. So, we have to judge chips by the context and let me assure you, when chips used to be written on the shopping list, it had to be checked with the other Highrise abode resident, do you mean crisps or chips. So we have taken to calling them crisps now, well sometimes, not always. Crisps have become an impulse buy and not listed on the shopping list, while chips are part of the regular meals. While it may make no sense, if we have to say what sort of chips we mean, we might say potato chips, which literally makes it no clearer, but we know what we mean as potato chips are crisps and not chips...... or French fries.
I am pleased I have given great clarity to folks on each side of the Atlantic and to Australians. You did follow all that, yes?
It is only a matter of months ago that I noticed that in the US sulphur is spelt sulfur. (My spell checker agrees with sulfur. No surprise there). Apparently Australian scientists now use the spelling sulfur, reinforced by our McQuarie dictionary and it is now the official spelling. I am quite sure in the Oxford dictionary sulfur would be noted as an alternative spelling. Most of my Australian readers are of a certain age. How would you spell sulphur? Should we march on the streets about the change? Or should we just let the water flow to sea and the grasses bend in the wind? The wisest will say, doesn't matter. We know what either means. However, I am slightly infuriated.