Britain vs USA: part 23,397

As I finished the last post, it occurred to me that although here in the good ol’ US of K we use “couldn’t care less”, in America they say “could care less”.

Whilst we often have different words for the same thing, and the same word for different things, this seemed to be an unusual one as they seem to have opposite meanings.

My version, which I am going to present as the “correct one” for the sake of causing upset and disharmony, seems logical enough on the surface of it: what you are saying is so uninteresting to me that I actually can’t find it in myself to care any less.

The wrong alternative version, I don’t understand.

I know I have some Americans who comment here on occasion, and some people who live there too, so if you have any insight then let me know.

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10 thoughts on “Britain vs USA: part 23,397

  1. How about the meaning for “could care less” being:
    ‘well, I could care less, but I cannot be bothered with the energy it would expend to go that extra mile. So the level of not caring I’m currently achieving will have to do.’ ?

  2. The English (as in coming from England) is always the correct one and I sometimes don’t understand anything that comes out of the mouths of some people I know here in the States. But apparently there are a few words that I say incorrectly, which are everything, something, nothing – basically anything that ends in thing. I didn’t know it but it was pointed out to me that I add a K on to the end of them: everythingK, nothingK….blah blah blah. Is this just me? Is this because I am a Brummie? Is this because I have been in America too long and just get confused in general with words?

    By the way, I have to order bum bags for our workers over here which they unfortunately call Fanny Packs and it kills me to say it every time I place the order!

  3. Yes, it is one of the more famous ones. I do think (this is me actually thinking, not mispronouncing thing!) that all Americans should be told about the English meaning of fanny before coming over and startling us all by saying something like “I landed on my fanny”.

    Brummies say very few things correctly, don’t worry.

    One of the things that Juliet says that I say wrong all the time is often. I try and try but can’t seem to stop myself pronouncing the “t”. Recently I bothered to look it up for myself though, and found it quite acceptable to say the “t” in often. Often was pronounced to rhyme with “soften” (silent t) in the 15th-19th centuries, but as awareness of the spelling increased with better education, the “t” re-emerged in the pronunciation.

    And this concludes the lesson for the day!

    Note: one thing that I cannot abide, however, is the mispronunciation of the word “pronunciation” – it is NOT pronounciation! If it is, then go and wash your mouth out with poisonous soap!

  4. Hello! Not American, but am living on the American continent, so technically am answering your criteria. Also, i believe we Canadians do say ‘could care less’ as well. I’m too confused to recall if i ever say this myself but agree it is utterly senseless (although Miss Welsherella’s explanation sounds quite plausible).

    However, living in the French part of Canada, there are staggering differences between the French we speak here and the European French. E.g. ici in proper French can sometimes be heard as icitte. This could be considered as a regional dialect. One of my most pretentious French teacher who happens to be interested in linguistics once explained that one of the main reasons for this particular phonological difference (also referred as ‘joual’) is that saying icitte requires less effort than sustaining the dry -i sound at the end of ici. What i am getting at quite ramblingly is that perhaps saying could requires less effort than adding the -nt sound at the end of couldn’t as that would ask the tongue to retract back and hit the inner upper throat.

    So, there you go. Hope that somehow made sense. Not that i imply Americans are all lazy bastards. No, not i… Never.

  5. I never understood that one either!

    I also tried to work out whether I said ‘often’ or ‘offen’ and I’ve now become so confused that neither sounds right! i think though that I do say ‘offen’.

    x

  6. Don’t worry Ellie, I say “y’all” from time to time now, as in “y’all have a nice day now y’hear”! In my best southern belle Brummie accent of course.

  7. i don’t actually say “i could care less.”

    i of(t)en, however, say “i couldn’t care less.” although lately, i don’t even bother with as many words and just roll my eyes – another fantastic trait that makes me so happy to be american.

  8. I love a bit of eye rolling.

    Especially when someone catches you doing it at them and you have to pretend you are flicking a lock of hair or something.

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