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This week's transatlantic vocabulary lesson

I was always a bit hazy on the circumstances under which "to wean" meant what. It's a good thing I've figured this out early and avoided confusing too many people as a result.

In Britain, one weans on to solids by introducing them.
In the US, one weans from any residual breastmilk or formula consumption, eliminating them from diet.

Two very different ends of the same spectrum.

P.S. Here's a headline from the BBC that only makes sense if one is focusing on the introduction of solids end of the spectrum: Weaning before six months 'may help breastfed babies'


Nov. 13th, 2012 10:20 am (UTC)
Good to know. I suppose the US definition was the primary one I had in the back of my mind, but I've heard the British usage and understood what it meant in context.

Linguistically I wonder if there is a transitional state that could be described as 'mid-wean' which people from either country would understand?
Nov. 13th, 2012 11:34 am (UTC)
I feel as if the usual context in which I've encountered the word ambiguously is hearing parents ask others "have you weaned your baby?".

Early days yet for me to be gathering evidence on this since I only just realized how it'll be a problem, linguistically - but I don't think I've heard anyone ask "are you weaning your baby?"