Two nations divided by a common language

Discuss word origins and meanings.
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Two nations divided by a common language

Post by Ken Greenwald » Mon Sep 14, 2015 4:50 am

“Two nations divided by a common language.” Amen!
<“‘Haven’t you got a stick or something.’ ‘Wish I had,’ he said through numb lips. What was the point in pretending? He was dreading having to walk even to the end of the bridge. ‘We can get one,’ said Robin. ‘Chemists sell them. We’ll find one.’ . . . ‘Lean on me.’ ‘I’m too heavy.’ ‘To balance. Use me like a stick. Do it,’ she said firmly.”—The Silkworm by Robert Gailbraith, page 203.>
Sticks, chemists. Don’t these people in England speak English?

On this side of the rift we would always say cane. There is the ‘walking stick.’ but that is rarely used. If you walked into a medical supply store and asked for a stick, you would probably get the reply, ‘You’re not from around here are you. Are you looking for a cane?’

Around here chemists are scientists specializing in chemistry. They probably wouldn’t be selling canes. You might try a pharmacist or druggist at a drug store or as I said above a medical supply store.

But never the twain shall meet!

Ken Greenwald – September 13, 2015

Re: Two nations divided by a common language

Post by Bobinwales » Mon Sep 14, 2015 2:01 pm

Those words are not only used in England Ken. We use them in Wales as well, and my friends in Scotland and Ireland would say the same things. In fact they are in use all over Britain (or the UK, if you prefer).

Just a gentle reminder

@ @
. 0 .
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Re: Two nations divided by a common language

Post by Phil White » Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:26 pm

Yep, we use "chemist" pretty well exclusively in the UK.

As far as "stick" is concerned, it is a different matter. The tendency is that a "stick" is used to lean on when walking. A "cane" can be
  • a fashion accessory without which no 18th century gentleman could afford to be (think Jane Austen or, indeed, the Clockwork Orange)
  • a thin stick used by blind people to help them navigate (white sticks used as walking sticks by blind people are not usually called "canes")
  • a thin, whippy stick used up until recently in schools by nasty educators to mercilessly beat schoolchildren
As far as blind canes are concerned, you will hear both "cane" and "stick" for the thin variety, but you will only hear "stick" for the "walking stick" variety.

Sheba, of course, knows the difference. Well, sort of. She never tries to grab my cane. If, however, I fold it up and carry it when we are walking over the beach, her eyes light up and she prances around me, expecting me to throw it.
Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

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