As Someone who lives in the UK and has watched USA TV programmes pretty much all my life, I have become aware of specific car related terms which differ from the UK.I have always known that gas means petrol (even though it is a liquid and not a gas) and hood means bonnet but it wasn't until recently, that I discovered that UK terms are not as well known in the USA.Do the Americans know for example that gas is something we use to cook with and comes from the North Sea, and yes it is a gas? The word for trunk is boot, compact is hatchback and a Sports Utility Vehicle or SUV is a 4x4 in the UK.But it really hit home whilst on an Internet forum to friends over the pond, as I was talking about breakdown cover.
The first response I got back was, "why did you call it breakdown cover?" "Why not breakdown coverage?" My next reply was "how big are these covers? And "why would you want to use a cover if is it not raining". Clearly no one knew that Breakdown Cover was in fact a breakdown insurance or breakdown recovery or even auto club.I hope if you are American you now know what I mean.
It shows that, even though those in the USA speak English, as technology drives forward, our language is becoming further and further apart.Ironically with the exception of gas, I can relate to the American terms more than the British. I can understand why a bonnet would be called a hood, as a hood is something that covers something. A bonnet is a small pretty hat like thing. We call the back of a car a boot, which is something we wear on our feet, but a trunk is somewhere to store and carry something, the American word makes more sense.
Not all our SUVs do have a 4x4 transmission so sports utility vehicle does seem to be more appropriate. I can however relate to the word hatchback to compact, as the cars in the UK tend to be much smaller and some of our large cars could still be deemed as compact to the Americans.I am still however a bit confused with other USA terms. Why would a taxi be called a cab? On a plane, why would an economy seat (meaning cheapest) be called coach in the USA? A coach in the UK is a posh bus, to take us on tours or long journeys or someone who teaches something.A mobile phone is a phone that is mobile, but what is the deal with cell phone? Is it for prisoners?.
Going forward I can only see the gap of words widening. Those in the USA will have the upper hand so long as we Europeans continue to import USA TV shows and watch blockbuster movies, and I can't see this trend ever reversing. However what may happen is that we Brits get so used to these terms on TV that we start to adopt them. To be honest, I could think of worse things, except of course for that one word "gas".
We will save our gas to cook on!..Mark is wbmaster for Driving Experience and Mobile Phones Deals.
By: Mark Flanighan