03 May, 2013

Mystery word revealed

Yesterday's mystery word was capsicum (Australia, NZ, and India) and pepper (UK and US).
Capsicum is actually the scientific name for this fruit. Curiously the Japanese word for it is Peemahn (ピーマン) . I've read that this comes from the French (or Spanish?) word piment, but I haven't any idea if that is true.

I ran into trouble with this word when buying lunch at Subway at Yokota Air Base earlier in the year. I was served by Japanese who spoke just passable American English. My American English was challenged when I had to translate "capsicum" into what they would understand. I really felt like a double foreigner!

But it is hard to find a word that the US and UK use, but Australians don't. 

Lesley suggested vest (UK)/singlet (Aust) (sleeveless undergarment worn in cold weather)—I'm not sure what Americans call this. Except that I know the word "singlet" in the US is a wrestler's one-piece suit.

Wikipedia has a nice entry on Australian English, it includes this:

Terms shared by British and American English but not so commonly found in Australian English include: abroad (overseas);cooler/ice box (esky); pickup truck (ute); wildfire (bushfire).
In addition, a number of words in Australian English have different meanings to those ascribed in other varieties of English. Clothing-related examples are notable. Pants in Australian English refer to British English trousers but in British English refer to Australian English underpantsvest in Australian English refers to British English waistcoat but in British English refers to Australian English singletthong in both American and British English refers to underwear otherwise known as a G-string while in Australian English it refers to British and American English flip-flop.


Ken Rolph said...

Pimiento is a European pepper. Pimento is the Spanish term for all-spice. Both derive from the Latin root that also gave us pigment.

You might appreciate the ABC Word Map site:


Ormo said...

I thought that Australia was trouser country!

Ormo said...

I thought that Australia was trouser country!

MJeggo said...

I guess the 'overseas' one could be down to the fact that in both Australia and Britain, anywhere foreign automatically involves a sea crossing whereas for the US this is not so?

Wendy said...

But, Mr Jeggo, the quote says it is Britain and the US that have "abroad" in common, not Britain and Australia. Can you explain that?