Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Sitting on Offence

An article by Derek Duggan

Words. That’s what we think we deal with. They’re just words. But it’s what they stand for that can often cause the problems. A word that means nothing to one person can deeply offend another.

Initially we’ve got the difficulties involved with localisation. The bonnet of your car is a bonnet, unless you travel across the Atlantic in which case it becomes a hood. A cupboard in most of the world is just that, but in Ireland it’s a press. And so on.

Then there are words that sound and are spelled the same but the meaning changes. Americans are quite happy to mention their fannies but travel back to Europe and although the word remains the same, the geographical location of the object slips forward a few centimetres. And one thing you don’t want to do is confuse your fannies. There’s a chance I’ll receive a letter from Irate from Chester for just mentioning it ...

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