Different Englishes: Babies

babiesWhen it comes to babies it seems to be a whole different language. That is where Different Englishes: Babies comes in. While I mostly learnt the American English terms from watching the The Rugrats when I was little, the recent obsession with the Royal Family and Downton Abbey has turned things on their head. Here is your guide to “adult” baby language.

Key: UK vs. US word

onesieBaby Grow vs. Onesie

  • This is the all-in-one outfit that babies wear. A piece of clothing that covers them from head to toe and can include a hood to keep them cosy.

Note: unfortunately we have become very familiar with the US term ‘onesie’ in the UK as adult onesies have become more popular. Often themed like animals and worn by students or for being lazy at home, however some people have gone so far as to wear them to the supermarket, as you can imagine looking like overgrown babies.

snapbuttonPoppers vs. Snaps OR Buttons

  • The metal buttons that pop/snap together when pressed, and open by pulling them apart rather than undoing them like normal buttons.

 strollerBuggy OR Pushchair vs. Stroller

  • The vehicle that babies sit in to be pushed around from place to place – hence ‘pushchair’.

pramPram vs. Stroller

  • While the US term remains the same, however in the UK a pram refers to an old fashioned pushchair that the baby can lay in, rather than sit, to be pushed around. Used particularly for young babies.

cribCot vs. Crib

  • The bed, often wooden, that babies sleep in. It typically has a bed area with high sides all around so the baby cannot fall.

Note: In the US a cot is used to refer to a roll-away guest bed.

pacifierDummy vs. Pacifier

  • The plastic and rubber object that babies suck, often given to them by parents to stop them crying.

Milk teeth vs. Baby teeth

  • The teeth that babies grow before they lose them for their adult teeth.

diaperNappy vs. Diaper

  • The material or paper that is wrapped around a baby’s bottom/behind (another UK/US difference!) so that he or she can go to the toilet without making a mess.

 Whinge vs. Whine

  • The noises and words used when a baby or child complains about something.

Don’t forget, there is always more practice at our English Language Differences page.

Idioms in Depth: English Mouse Idioms

mouseRodents may not be the most popular creatures in the real world but they are definite VIPs in the world of common English expressions. Be they mice or rats (and lets be honest, there’s not much of a difference between the two), as the following examples prove, there are a lot of common English mouse idioms.

As quiet as a mouse – very quiet or introverted

  • Don’t worry, I’ll be as quiet as a mouse when I leave tomorrow. You won’t hear a thing.

To play cat and mouse with someone – to tease or manipulate someone

* Oh that Judy can be such a monster. She pretends to love Raymond but really she’s just playing cat and mouse with his heart.

Note: This idiom relates to the idea that cats like to play with their food (and thereby draw out the suffering).

To rat out (someone) – to betray (someone)

  • You can’t trust him! He would rat out his own mother!

Rat race – an expression used to describe a hectic lifestyle or situation

  • After years of the rat race on Wall Street my brother retired to a quiet farm upstate.

Note: This idiom is meant to suggest the frantic pace that is characteristic of rats in a maze,

To smell a rat – to be suspicious of, or otherwise sense that, something is wrong

  • I knew you couldn’t be trusted! I smelled a rat from the very beginning.

Note: This expression is very similar in meaning “to smell fishy” as both are related to their negative smell.

When the cat’s away, the mice will play – an expression used to describe a situation where unsupervised people cause problems

  • Of course they caused problems while you were out of town – when the cat’s away the mice will play.

If you have any doubts about these or any other English idioms, be sure to scurry over to our idioms main page!

Speak English Like an Australian: Australian Camping Vocabulary

campingCamping is a great way to explore the Australian outback, countryside and white sandy beaches. This entry on Australian Camping Vocabulary will give you a brief guide of the typical Aussie phrases and terms you might here along your camping adventures.

Slang phrase for a ‘long way away,’ a ‘very remote place,’ or the ‘middle of nowhere.’

  • I’m going for a drive out woopwoop.

A swag is a roll out canvas bed for sleeping. Generally they are made out of canvas and are water and insect proof.

Note: Nowadays, most people travel with swags rather than hike with a swag because modern day tents and sleeping bags are much lighter.

Slang term for a small aluminium boat. If you are camping in Australia, you may notice tinnies on the rooftops of 4WDs that are travelling around Australia. These small boats are used in rivers, dams and ocean, particularly for fishing.

Australian slang term for toilet. Usually a dunny refers to a toilet that is outdoors, but it can also refer to any type of toilet.

Note: When camping, you may use a ‘drop dunny,’ also called a ‘long drop,’ which is simply a toilet seat over a large hole in the ground- otherwise known as a pit toilet.

This is an Aussie slang term for mosquitos – avoid them if you can!

A metal pot used for cooking, boiling water or for brewing tea over a campfire.

Damper is a type of bread prepared with wheat based flour and water and cooked in the coals of an open campfire. It is also known as traditional bushmen’s bread. Many people still prepare and cook damper when camping in the outback.

Scroggin is a term used in Australia and New Zealand. It simply means trail mix: a mixture of nuts, dried fruit, chocolate pieces and others nibbles. Scroggin is a popular snack among hikers and bush walkers as it is high in energy.

Bush tucker
Refers to bush foods that are native to Australia and that are used by Indigenous Australians for food or for other purposes. This includes food from animals including kangaroos, emus, snakes etc., food from plants and seeds and insects including grubs.

Want to learn more about different Englishes around the world? Visit our homepage to find out more.

Get Ready for Phrasal Verbs about Preparation!

raceThis installment of our phrasal verbs series focuses on how we discuss preparations. Are you ready?

Get Ready/ – to prepare

  • We got ready to leave while my brother shoveled the snow off the driveway.

Note: This verb can be followed by the infinitive form of a verb, as in the example above, or by “for” and a noun, as in the example below, but in either case it is roughly equivalent to “prepare.”

  • I have to get ready for my presentation. It’s in an hour and I haven’t memorized my opening speech yet!

Note: This verb can be both intransitive, as in the previous examples, or it can be separated and made transitive, as in the following example:

  • I always get my bags ready the night before I go to the airport so I won’t forget anything.

Gear up for/ – to make preparations

  • We’re gearing up for our annual staff appreciation celebration. It’s a huge event that brings employees from all of the different areas together.

Note: Taken more literally, this verb can be used to express that one is “gathering the equipment necessary to accomplish something,” like in the example below:

  • Ok, everyone, let’s gear up for the morning hike. Make sure you have your canteen, walking stick, and raincoat.

Brush up on/ – to practice an old skill or refresh old knowledge

  • I’ll have to brush up on my Spanish before we go to Chile for our vacation. I haven’t spoken a word of it since high school!

Note: A very similar – albeit more informal – expression with the same meaning substitutes “bone” for “brush,” like in this example:

  • I’m boning up on my jazz scales before the show tomorrow night. I’ve been playing mostly blues for a while now.

Set … Up/ – To put things in their place

  • I have to set up the salad bar because the guy who usually does it is sick and didn’t come to work today. It’s a lot of work bringing out all of those vegetables and plates!

Note: In another context, this verb can mean “betray someone to their enemies,” like in the following example:

  • The undercover police officer setup the drug dealer with a DEA sting operation. He was arrested in possession of narcotics, cash, and weapons.

Still not feeling ready? Have no fear! Check out our phrasal verbs homepage and practice a little more!

Peru Seeks National Bilingualism

peruPeru seeks national bilingualism in English and Spanish by 2021 and President Ollanta Humala has announced some big promises to make that happen. His plan expands to public schools a bilingual education initiative originally designed for the military and allocates resources to train more than 280,000 teachers with dual-language skills. His government is focused on 2,010 communities with insufficient schooling, and intends to turn Arequipa, Peru’s second most populous city, inits flagship bilingual municipality.

To support these initiatives, Humala’s government has signed agreements with educational bodies in the UK in an effort to leverage their expertise to set up and expand Peru’s language programs. As part of the program, Peruvian teachers will be trained in the UK, and UK institutions will run ELT training schools in Peru. Moreover, the Higher Education Unit will create postgraduate scholarships to study in the UK for limited-mean students, funded by Peru’s national scholarship and student loan program. These loans will be supplemented by a wide range of grants which will promote their overseas studies and cement Peru’s status as an emerging language student sending market.

But changes like this won’t come easy or cheaply. The new University Act targets low-quality private universities ‑ referred to as ‘degree factories’ by critics ‑ to raise their certifications’ quality, but has found strong opposition and criticism. It also risks reversal if Humala’s fierce political rival and trail frontrunner, Keiko Fujimori (daughter of incarcerated former-president Alberto), wins June’s presidential runoffs and follows-through on her promise to challenge it in court.

No matter who wins, however, Peruvians are pressing for a more inclusive education system which enables greater economic equity. As a result, it would appear that things are only getting starting – both politically and educationally – in the South American nation.