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This one’s for you, English to English. Our favorite response so far: “Treat it like any other job, and do your best.”

Yes, London is an unfriendly city – and long may it stay that way

Stuart Heritage (via guardian)

(via guardian)

On Llanfair

A reader asks: Could you please share your feelings on Llanfair.

A Martin Pengelly answers: With pleasure, old sprout. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, to give it its full name, is a place on the island of Anglesey, which is part of Wales, which for immediate purposes only we shall simply say is a constituent part of “Britain”.

With 58 characters (if only 51 letters, most of them consonants, due to things like ‘ch’ counting in the Welsh language as one), it is the longest place name in Europe. I’m not going to try to give the pronunciation phonetically – safe to say that given 76% of the populace of Llanfair speaks Welsh, ask them.

Why the place is often shortened to “Llanfair” should be obvious. If it isn’t, consider the advice of Blackadder:

“Never ask for directions in Wales, Baldrick. You’ll be washing spit out of your hair for a fortnight.”

Advantage (as apportioned due to having had the out-of-body experience that is going into a pub in a Welsh-speaking town while wearing an England Rugby woolly hat and speaking decidedly English-sounding English): Wales, the Welsh and Welsh speakers everywhere.

Could you please share your feelings on Llanfair?

Asked by onwingslikeseagulls

Coming right up …

On druthers

- Martin Pengelly

If I had my druthers, Americans would stop saying ‘if I had my druthers’.

You will, of course, have seen what I did there. And so there might seem little point in my carrying on to write: ‘What is/are ‘druthers’ and why would one wish to have it/them?

I asked this on Twitter, anyway and in a heartwarming illustration of the unquestioned power of social media to bring us together, encourage multi-faith dialogue and generally stop wars, many of you responded:

And yet after all that, I’m not satisfied. Why not just say: ‘I’d rather’? Eh? ‘If I had my druthers’ is a silly phrase. Stop it.

Advantage: UK, because we never started.

- Katie Rogers
In America, mean girls are always in style. US Netflix subscribers are rejoicing because Mean Girls is now available for streaming. The campy 90s movie Jawbreaker can be found on HBOGo. And, for some reason, the 80s classic Heathers has been made into a musical. 
I don’t know if these films are popular in the UK, or if there’s another set of films I don’t even know about … in which case, please tell me about the films I don’t know about. 
Advantage: High school in the US, because it’s really not that bad. 
(Photograph: Chad Batka/AP) 
An update from the peanut gallery: 

@katierogers hey gurl, in response to the latest ‘englishtoenglish’ tumblr post: english people loooooove mean girls.
— Rossalyn Warren (@RossalynWarren) April 2, 2014



@katierogers speaking of american films based on high school, are there a lot of schools like the one in ‘Saved!’ - cuz that school is weird
— Rossalyn Warren (@RossalynWarren) April 2, 2014
So this reader is referring to Saved, a 2004 film about a religious American high school starring Mandy Moore and Macaulay Culkin and some other people. I can confirm that in the US many high schools have giant statues of crucifixes and/or statues of Jesus on their front lawns. Come visit! 

- Katie Rogers

In America, mean girls are always in style. US Netflix subscribers are rejoicing because Mean Girls is now available for streaming. The campy 90s movie Jawbreaker can be found on HBOGo. And, for some reason, the 80s classic Heathers has been made into a musical

I don’t know if these films are popular in the UK, or if there’s another set of films I don’t even know about … in which case, please tell me about the films I don’t know about. 

Advantage: High school in the US, because it’s really not that bad. 

(Photograph: Chad Batka/AP) 

An update from the peanut gallery: 

So this reader is referring to Saved, a 2004 film about a religious American high school starring Mandy Moore and Macaulay Culkin and some other people. I can confirm that in the US many high schools have giant statues of crucifixes and/or statues of Jesus on their front lawns. Come visit! 

-Amanda Holpuch

Yes, we’re back with Goop-split 2014! The Telegraph has added to its collection of geographic reasons not to marry the person you love with The Pitfalls of Marrying an American Woman.

The pitfalls include: “swapping hands with cutlery,” “absurd conception of distance” and “the word ‘woo!’”

To marry an American is to accept the word “woo!” into your life. The word is not in any dictionary, but is written deep inside an American’s heart and soul. To an American, if anything vaguely good is happening, one must emit a “woo”. Perhaps a baseball team has hit a baseball. Or a tray of cupcakes successfully made it from the kitchen to a living room table.

Benefits: “Incredible teeth,” “down to earth” and “they actually enjoy sex.”

Advantage: Love

(photo: Colin Young-Wolff/AP)

On the periodic table as an exercise in petty nationalism

image

Martin Pengelly

Thanks to splendid Guardian boffin Oliver Burkeman for relaying this, originally spotted by Alice Bell. It’s a rendering of the periodic table of elements by the nationality of the discoverers of each element. In so which, it proves:

a) That some Twitter accounts are oddly, belligerently nationalistic
b) That we at the Guardian couldn’t possibly condone such things as applied to the supranational nobility of the sciences
c) That, that said, the UK is 24-21 up on the USA when it comes to such discoveries
d) That that equals a great big E2E booyah for the UK massive, what?
e) That a ‘booyah’ is ‘an exclamatory statement, often said when someone is extremely overjoyed and accompanied by a vigorous hand movement’ (Thank you, Urban Dictionary. Whether this is UK or US slang I’m not sure, though Ali G used it so maybe it’s British? Via the Caribbean? I really don’t know)
and also
f) That Canada doesn’t even place. Slackers.
Very spurious, even childish advantage but advantage nonetheless: UK
Though, come to think of it,the man who sings The Elements, Tom Lehrer is American. All right, we’ll call it a draw. (Photo: GREAT Britain. Not Great Britain … GREAT Britain)

-Amanda Holpuch: 
Though we all lose when love fails, Gwyneth and Chris’ conscious uncoupling might be the necessary lost battle in the greater war against Anglo-American relationships.
We American women have already been warned with the useful Is He Cute or Is He British? guide, but what happens to the American women who have already been ensnared by the charming accent and nice-fitting clothes of British men? The Telegraph’s Sally Peck has this warning guide: The pitfalls of marrying a British man:

From Gwyneth Paltrow to Madonna to Wallace Simpson to Jennie Jerome, American women have been crossing the Atlantic to find spouses since shortly after the Mayflower docked. They come over to the UK with bright eyes, toned abs, a wad of cash, bags of ambition and a romantic notion of marrying a dashing Darcy, a brooding Rochester, even a brainy Miliband (bad luck, Hillary; well done, Louise): an aloof but articulate man who will fall unconditionally for their energetic, healthy New World optimism.And maybe it works. The strong silent type may enjoy the companionship of a woman who keeps up a running commentary from dawn til dusk.
But maybe it all goes awry when their husband fails to fall for Bikram yoga and macrobiotic diets, abdicates or gets syphilis.


(photo: rex features)

-Amanda Holpuch:

Though we all lose when love fails, Gwyneth and Chris’ conscious uncoupling might be the necessary lost battle in the greater war against Anglo-American relationships.

We American women have already been warned with the useful Is He Cute or Is He British? guide, but what happens to the American women who have already been ensnared by the charming accent and nice-fitting clothes of British men? The Telegraph’s Sally Peck has this warning guide: The pitfalls of marrying a British man:

From Gwyneth Paltrow to Madonna to Wallace Simpson to Jennie Jerome, American women have been crossing the Atlantic to find spouses since shortly after the Mayflower docked. They come over to the UK with bright eyes, toned abs, a wad of cash, bags of ambition and a romantic notion of marrying a dashing Darcy, a brooding Rochester, even a brainy Miliband (bad luck, Hillary; well done, Louise): an aloof but articulate man who will fall unconditionally for their energetic, healthy New World optimism.

And maybe it works. The strong silent type may enjoy the companionship of a woman who keeps up a running commentary from dawn til dusk.


But maybe it all goes awry when their husband fails to fall for Bikram yoga and macrobiotic diets, abdicates or gets syphilis.

(photo: rex features)

Regarding noodles v pasta. I'd say (being a Brit) that noodles are a type of Asian pasta. Spaghetti etc are not noodles, but are pasta. And so for example, Udon or Ramen noodles are pasta. My flatmates share the same thinking.

Asked by rossclements

Good to know. 

Pasta vs Noodles

I got into quite a heated discussion with two British friends about the difference between pasta and noodles. To my American self, pasta and noodles have an area of overlap; several types of pasta (spaghetti, linguine) would qualify as noodles, although sometimes (penne, fusilli) would not. The important defining quality of noodles is that they are long. However, my British friends were quite adamant that pasta and noodles were two separate things, with pasta referring to Italian food, and noodles referring to East Asian food.

I feel like this clear demarcation of noodles and pasta is a disservice to the poor noodle, which can be used so well in a variety of cuisines. How widespread is this distinction between noodles and pasta across the UK?

Cup size

As a Brit in America who loves to cook, I wish to single out the cup for praise. I normally grumble a lot, but this really deserves to be celebrated.

The cup is a single unit of measure that replaces all oz, g, lb and kg in the kitchen. It is so utterly simple and brilliantly clever that so many people overlook how good this is. My American mother-in-law can bake the most wonderful cakes and pies without the use of any scales or balances - just her cup measurement. It works for wet and dry equally well, it is portable, is it singular, it is a delight as a pure and distilled idea that removes complication.

Winner: USA, whose singular cup measurement overfloweth.

Along the lines of “Wales isn’t in England”

On your “Wales isn’t in England” post - I’m an American who moved to Ireland, and I’ve been asked at least 3 times by other Americans something along the lines of “Oh, Ireland, that’s in the UK, isn’t it?”. Which it’s not, and it’s important to be clear on that.