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Author Topic: Q about usage in UK  (Read 1738 times)

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B L McAllister

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Q about usage in UK
« on: September 27, 2009, 03:58:30 PM »

Reading British mysteries (notably Agatha Christie) I notice frequent use of "whilst" and "amongst." On this side of the Atlantic, most of us use "while" and "among," though one does see the "-t words"--but pretty darned rarely.  I haven't yet noticed whether UKers use "while" and "among" reasonably often or not.  My dictionaries (American) define "whilst" as "the same as while" and "amongst" as "the same as among." In my imagination, there is some customary difference in emphasis in the UK, but what I want to know is: is that really solely in my imagination? The "-t words" are way too rare here for me to make any observation, and I'm too slow-witted to deduce anything from works such as those of Mrs. Mallowan.
Byron
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Byron Leon McAllister.
Books by Byron and Kay McAllister can most easily be obtained as e-books or in print from the publisher at http://www.writewordsinc.com/ For "Undercover Nudist," the print version is an improved version of the ebook version. The others are the same in both formats.

Lance Charnes

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Re: Q about usage in UK
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2009, 12:39:23 AM »

It also appears in modern-day British lit, and I've heard it on the news and occasionally on scripted TV shows.

The Separated by a Common Language blog ran a short piece on this very subject, at http://separatedbyacommonlanguage.blogspot.com/2006/06/whilst.html.

BTW, this blog is a fine source for analyses of British and American common word usage. It's written by an American linguistics scholar teaching in the UK.
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B L McAllister

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Re: Q about usage in UK
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2009, 03:58:29 PM »

Thanks, Lance, for the reference.  Sketchy, but it probably covers all the difference there really is.  I'm assuming that amongst is similar enough in usage that I can let it drop for now.  (Never did actually need to know, but I get curious about things sometimes.  Like how come in the UK inserting an e in the middle of judgment--an act that makes eminent sense--is common but not universal, but in the US is heavily--but heavily!--frowned upon.  Or, for that matter how come the Brits never yielded to the American dictum that putting a period or comma outside the quotation marks is a cardinal sin.)

Byron
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Byron Leon McAllister.
Books by Byron and Kay McAllister can most easily be obtained as e-books or in print from the publisher at http://www.writewordsinc.com/ For "Undercover Nudist," the print version is an improved version of the ebook version. The others are the same in both formats.
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