May 15, 2012

5 Separated by a Common Language: Part III

British is invading my brain.

A few weeks ago, as I played fetch with Sloan at Bolton Abbey,
I was watching a young couple skip rocks on the river (this is a common pastime at Bolton Abbey).
When the man threw one that skipped three times I thought to myself,
"Man, I am rubbish at skipping rocks."


I now think words like "rubbish"??

Let's get on to today's lesson in British lingo.
Today we'll concentrate on the home.
Types of homes, to be specific.
(same as in Parts I and II, British on left, American on right)

detached house............. single-family dwelling (no shared walls)
semidetached house............... duplex (one shared wall)
terraced house............... townhouse (two shared walls)
flat.............. apartment
bungalow................ one story home/ranch
dormered bungalow.................home mostly on one floor with a finished living space in the attic

The level of house you walk into from the street-
ground floor............. first floor
The level of house that's up one staircase-
first floor..............second floor
This leads to a lot of American tourist confusion with elevator buttons. 

When you're looking to let (rent) or purchase a home, you go see an estate agent (realtor).
The home you're looking for can be in a variety of areas.
Let's tackle that next.

City seems obvious, right? 
London is a city.
York is a city. 
Edinburgh is a city.
Ripon is a city.
However, Harrogate, despite having over four times the population of Ripon, is a town.

A tradition based in medieval times, a location must have either a cathedral or a royal market charter in order to be granted "city" status.
Because of this, there are a lot of towns of various sizes and a handful of very small cities.
"Town" is generally bestowed on places that have a market, but the "royal market charter" means city...
no, I'm not entirely clear on that one, either.

A village is the next size smaller in home locations.
A village is a group of dwellings that usually includes a post office (general store included), a pub, a church, a school, and/or a social hall.
Birstwith is a village.

A hamlet is not just a play about a confused prince.
A hamlet is a group of dwellings that doesn't have a church, a school, a post office... but the one we live in now does have a social hall. And a pub. 

Confused yet?

Here's something to relax your brain:
Living in a hamlet isn't so bad, is it?


  1. I still get very confused about floor levels. Even reading your post confused me. Haha! Apparently I will never learn.

  2. Very interesting! In France it's the same with the floors!! Other than that I am changing some of my basic words into French words like Alors instead of so.

  3. Haha, I enjoyed reading this. Obviously, since I'm British, I understand all that stuff as though it is ingrained in brain, but, if I ever spend a long period of time in America I'm sure I'll get majorly confused. Honestly, when people talk about their homes in blogs/magazines etc (Americans) I never have any idea what type of home they're talking about!!

  4. Laura- I *think* the floors are labelled that way in most of the non-North American world- it's kind of like the metric system, I'm afraid, and Americans (maybe Canadians, too, I'm not sure!) are just behind. Again.
    Samantha- just view these posts as a reverse-language lesson! It's funny, since we've moved here I understand A LOT more of the remarks and jokes made in British series and films- so it's gotten me to wonder what jokes and remarks slip through the cracks for Brits viewing American shows!

  5. You had me up until town, village, hamlet. Are those terms actually useful in terms of renting? Does an application have you list those? Or just city/town?


    Too many subtitles!


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