It has become my personal campaign of tilting at windmills to make standard American English more international in character. To do this I started using words that I thought more logical (or just plain sound better) from British English. Like crisps instead of potato chips. Hopefully I will be able to pick up a Transatlantic accent as well.

Join me! After all it is crazy, but gosh it can be fun too. Plus being eccentric is charming when trying to get a date. (Okay, I don’t know that this actually works that well, but you never know...)

A list of the words I prefer from my years of watching BBC programs:

  • "Chips" instead of "French fries" (Though I still use French fries to refer to the thin French cut chips like McDonald’s serves.)
  • "Crisps" instead of "Potato chips"
  • "Dustbin" instead of "Waste Paper Basket" (Such a clumsy term)
  • "Nail varnish" instead of "Nail polish"
  • "Plonk" instead of "cheap wine"
  • "Put down" instead of "Put to sleep" (what a dishonest idiom)
  • "Sultanas" instead of "Golden raisins"
  • "Tram" or "Tramway" instead of "Light Rail"

The words I throw in as synonyms:

  • A
  • Aerial for Antenna
  • Argentine for Argentinean
  • Autumn for Fall
  • B
  • Biro for Ball-point pen
  • Bloke for Guy
  • Brolly for Umbrella
  • C
  • Cinema for Movie theater
  • Clingfilm for Plastic wrap
  • Constable for police officer
  • Cuppa for Cup of tea
  • D
  • Daft for Stupid
  • Dodgy for Iffy, suspect
  • Dotty for Feeble-minded
  • Downmarket for Seedy
  • E
  • F
  • Fancy (verb) for Like
  • Fire brigade for fire department
  • Flat for Apartment
  • G
  • Gents for Men's room
  • H
  • Holiday for Vacation
  • I
  • Ice lolly for Popsicle (Such a cool term!)
  • Ironmongers' for Hardware store
  • J
  • Joiner for Carpenter
  • Jumper for Sweater
  • K
  • Knickers for Panties
  • L
  • Lad for Boy
  • Ladies' for Lady's room
  • Loo for Bathroom
  • Lorry for Truck
  • M
  • Maize for Corn
  • Motorway for Highway
  • Mince instead of Ground meat
  • N
  • Nappy for Diaper
  • Nick for Steal
  • Nutter for Kook
  • O
  • Off for Spoiled
  • P
  • Patience (card game) for Solitaire
  • Pavement for Sidewalk
  • Peckish for Hungry
  • Petrol for Gas
  • Pinch for Steal
  • Pitch for Playing field
  • Plait for Braid
  • Post (noun or verb) for Mail
  • Pneumatic drill for jack hammer
  • Prat for Jerk
  • Q
  • Queue for Line (of people)
  • R
  • Rank for Taxi stand
  • Refectory for Cafeteria
  • Ring for Call
  • Roundabout for Traffic circle
  • Row for Quarrel
  • Rucksack for Backpack
  • S
  • Sack (verb) for Fire
  • Skint for Broke
  • Sleeper for Railroad tie
  • Spanner for Wrench
  • Starkers for Naked
  • Sweets for Candy
  • T
  • Tap for Faucet
  • Telly for TV
  • Tin for Can
  • Tip for Dump
  • Treacle for Molasses
  • U
  • Upmarket for Classy
  • V
  • W
  • Waistcoat for Vest
  • Water closet for Bathroom
  • Windscreen (automotive) for Windshield
  • X
  • Y
  • Z

The Rest

Bloody- I just like this mild expletive. It does not sound as old fashioned as using "heck" or "darn". I must admit I also like using exclamations translated from other languages too. They’re just fun for me. Like "Go to the Devil’s Grandmother!" (Russian)

Chat up- This is a lovely idiom that has no direct equivalent in American English as far as I know. For those not in the know it means to chat flirtatiously.

Hedgerow- My understanding is that this means any hedge in England. I might use this word for a narrow band of trees and bushes, but we don’t have many things like those here in America.

Jam- I understand that this is the word for any Jelly in England. I already use this word to refer to a sugary type of preserved crushed fruit. Like my mom’s strawberry Jam and Jelly when referring to the stuff made with just the juice of a fruit.

Pub- A pub is very different from the American bar. For one thing they welcome people who are not there to drink alcohol. It would be more like what is sometimes called a 'family' bar over here. So I don’t use this word, even for the bars over here that call themselves pubs.

Personally I see International English not so much about limiting the use of words. (Except in a very few cases where I refuse to use a dishonest or clumsy word.) But to expand the vocabulary of English speakers as widely as possible. I know this does not make English easier to learn, but I do not see any way to reduce the language except by natural attrition.

I have no doubt that eventually some parts of the expanded vocabulary will become less commonly used. But if it a directed process coming from some sort of word police it will be resisted. What will keep the langauge even as it contracts is international communication.

So I think the goal in the short term is to introduce each other to new words from different parts of the English speaking world. I am starting with British terms for ease of access and will move on to more obscure ones as I do more research.