Separated by a Common Language

I am interested in words that were used frequently in books published in the US and the UK in the year 2000.

It turns out that since 1980, Americans and Brits have used nouns at nearly the same rate. And, Brits use adjectives more than Americans. So, any differences in usage of the nouns listed below is not due to Americans or Brits generally using them more than the other. And any adjectives that Americans use more is not because of Americans’ overall usage of adjectives.

Here are some things I found:


1. Americans write about colors (and colours) more than Brits: black, white, red, blue, green, brown, orange, pink, purple. (Americans write more about ‘gray‘ while Brits write ‘grey‘ more often.)

2. Americans write more about days of the week than Brits: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

3. Americans write more about diseases and body parts than Brits: diabetes, thyroid, chin, chest, breathing, insulin, medication, fingers, cardiovascular, abdominal, waist, knees, dental, healing, seizures, finger, breast, breasts, throat, elbow, forehead, hormone, mouth, arthritis, kidney, asthma, lung, lungs, belly, hearts, fatty, hypertension, jaw, vomiting, pain, trauma, anatomy, abortion, sick, diagnosis, glucose, nasal, pregnancy, artery, ultrasound and more.

4. Americans write first names more than Brits: Jack, James, Joshua, Daniel (Dan), Harold, Samuel, Joseph (Joe), Matthew (Matt), Mark, Tim, Robert, Luke, John, George, Chloe, Emily, Charlotte, Jessica, Lauren, Laura, Sarah, Sophie, Olivia, Hannah, Amy, Ann, Emma, Rachel, Mary, Rebecca. These are actually the most popular British names, and yet Americans still use them more often. Think about it – Americans actually use Charles, Elizabeth, William, Harry and Kate more than Brits do!

But Brits use titles way more than Americans do: Mr., Mrs., Dr., Ms.,  Sir, and Professor

Thus, combining this point with point #3 above, if you are trying to write a cowboy story and want the main character to sound as American as possible, call him “Bleeding Feet Billy“. It’s mathematically proven to be nearly the most American name you can imagine.

5. Americans write more about animals than Brits: horse, horses, cat, cats, dog, bird, chickens, cows, monkey, chimp, and whales.

6. Americans write more about beverages than Brits: water, beer, wine, juice, liquor, rum, vodka, coffee, cola, and milk. Only for tea and toddy do the Brits compare. (Even, then, we still beat them at ‘tea’.)

7. Americans write the words for numbers more than Brits: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, twenty, hundred, thousand, million, shitload, and dozen.


What do Brits write about more than Americans?

1. The British write more than Americans about royalty: king, queen (almost), prince (but not princess), duke, duchess (barely), lord, earl, royal, castle, crown, emperor, and empress. (Interestingly, Americans write ‘royalty‘ itself more than Brits, though probably in the financial sense.)

2. The British write more than Americans the last names of people who were never President of the United States: Unwin, Darwin, Bentham, Thatcher, Ruskin, Wittgenstein, Brecht, Wordsworth, Levinas, Nero, Foucault, Lenin, Claudius, Kant, Coleridge, Chomsky, Hume, Khan, Boyle, Machiavelli, Woolf, Livingstone, Franco, Caesar, Derrida, Chamberlain, Hegel, Marx, Mussolini, Goethe, Yeats, Dickens, Chaucer, Freud, Hardy, Hobbes, Rousseau, Shakespeare and Hitler.

And, 3. distant lands: Norway, Denmark, India, Ghana, Africa, Arabia, Iran, Russia, Japan, Australia and others.

So, basically, the Brits write more about themselves, their royalty and their neighbors more than Americans, who, in turn, write more about their name, their rectum and which day of the week it is than Brits.

What do Americans and Brits write about equally? Canada, goats, July and stereotypes.


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