April 25th, 2008

Laptop with wireless mouse

Misleading Language

I only began to twig that I'd misunderstood when gillo commented yesterday to the effect that "Yank" and "Yankee" mean different things. No one else had caught my conflation of the two. I certainly had no reason to think I was conflating. Until today, I presumed that Yank was slang, short for Yankee, interchangable except for level of formality, just like Brit and British.

It took a full explanation today from fjm to learn otherwise. "Yank" is, apparently, a specific term used in the UK to refer to a specific kind of American: rich, assertive, ignorant. It's an insult, not just a geographic descriptor. And now I can't think as to whether or not Americans ever use "Yank". Do we? Do we use it interchangably with Yankee, or do we not use it at all? I no longer know.

Since I'm now feeling cautious, is there a similar meaning divide between "Brit" and "British" when it comes to human beings?