LONDON—The lorry driver taking kit to the football pitch was so knackered he pulled into the lay-by near the petrol station for a quick kip.
For American readers, that translates as: The truck driver delivering uniforms to the soccer field was so tired he pulled into the rest area near the gas station for a nap.
As George Bernard Shaw once observed, England and America are two countries divided by a common language. That trans-Atlantic linguistic divide will be magnified by Olympic proportions this summer when an estimated 250,000 Americans come to town for the London Games.
Yes, the Internet, television, movies, global travel and business have blurred language differences, and many people in the U.S. and U.K. are familiar with those bizarre figures of speech from both sides of the pond.
Yet important differences remain, prompting this rough guide to just a few of the potential colloquial conundrums that await baffled American visitors to the old country. (A caveat: This is not a definitive, all-inclusive list and doesn’t take into account different spelling, accents, Cockney rhyming slang or expletives!)