AEE 829: Time, Date, Season, Distance- 4 Key Differences to Keep in Mind

Do you ever get confused when talking about dates, measurements, and times of day with different English speakers or people who speak different languages?

In the US we express time using AM for morning and PM for the afternoon and evening. We also don’t use military time and instead of saying 15:00 we say 3pm.

Today we’ll talk about how this might be confusing and four things to watch out for when you speak with people from different parts of the world.

 

Hi Lindsay,

In episode 800 you refer to when you started the All Ears English Podcast as “fall 2013”. I just wanted to mention how this is almost nonsense for people from tropical countries like Brazil or how this may be confusing for people living below the Equator line.

More specifically, I am from Brazil and we don’t really point out to year’s seasons as a reference to a moment or a period of the year. To begin with, most regions of Brazil may have just summer as a season and even for people living more in the south part of the country, where they do have fall and winter, Brazilians never use seasons as an indication of the period did or will do something. We simply specify the month or sometimes the semester.

Similarly, in Brazil and in Australia, the seasons flow backwards in relation to North America or Europe. So, when you mention 

you did something in Fall 2013, you mean September to December, but when I was living in Australia this would mean March to September. Also, in my experience of living for 7 months in Australia, Australians would use seasons as a reference to a period in a year not so often as I see people using it now living in Canada or as I know Europeans use frequently.

Anyway, this subject is actually quite interesting and may even be an inspiration for a podcast topic for you. I also thought that you could make a better connection with your listeners if you add a more clear reference to the month or the semester, for 

example, when talking about a period in a year.

Wishing you guys all the very best and congratulating you for the fun and useful podcasts,

 Dani

 

Great point!

You’re right.

Even though this fact does sometimes go through our mind when we say a season, we still say it the way that we say it.

It begs a bigger question: what is actually better for our listeners?

Should we raise awareness of the differences in case they are moving to the US by saying it only the way we say it in the same way that we don’t slow down with our speaking speed OR should we modify our speech so that everyone understands exactly what we’re saying.

We are not going to try to answer that question today as it’s more about philosophy.

Instead, today we’ll show you 4 places you might get tripped up when it comes to this issue.

 

 

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4 things to watch out for:

 

1) Dates – In Europe if we wrote 3/8/81 this would be August 3rd 1981.

In the US we write 8/3/81 and this is August 3rd, 1981. We write the month, date, and year.

So for the European way of writing it I would read that as March 8th 1981.

Also the way that we say dates.

We say it the way it’s written  so if we write 8/3/81 then we say on August 3rd 1981 or on the 3rd of August.

I have heard the “of” being dropped in British English.

But in American English we don’t drop it.

 

2) Military time- I saw military time being used in Japan and Europe and probably everywhere except for here.

In the US instead of saying 13:50 we say 1:50pm.

Instead we use AM and PM- Ante Meridiem*

Latin for “before midday” and Post Meridiem*

Latin for “after midday”.

 

3) The Metric System- We don’t use the Metric System in the US.

Instead we use miles, inches, and pounds. Click here to learn about the times we have almost changed but did not follow through.

So the weight of a small adult is 120 lbs which is 54 KG.

A marathon is 26 miles which is 42 kilometers.

 

4) Spelling- There are a lot of spelling differences between British and American English.

  • Accessorise (British) and accessorize (American)
  • Colour (briths) and color (American)

Go here to learn about more of them.

 

Takeaway:

Even though these differences seem significant, they are not a huge deal.

Sometimes it just requires a slight mental shift especially if you are living in the new country and if you are already doing this then it’s a sign that you are becoming a global citizen!

 

What questions do you have today?

Let us know in the comments below.

 



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