I’m from England although I’ve lived in the USA since 1994. And yes, there’s a huge difference between the two cultures and one of the greatest is that of language. British people in the USA – and vice versa – can find themselves misunderstood at best (and locked up at worst!) due to not understanding those differences.

Most English people manage pretty well because we’ve been brought up on a diet of American movies and TV and we expats learn soon enough that we have to basically learn a new language. We soon realise that Americans eat biscuits with gravy for example.

Americans are often surprised to know that we English often eat pudding with gravy, especially Yorkshire pudding or steak and kidney pudding. You see, and I only discovered this last year (after all this time!) that ‘pudding’ in the US means, according to the dictionary…

a dessert with a creamy consistency

I take this to mean something like a chocolate pudding, a blancmange or that stuff beloved of 1960s mums, Angel Delight. In other words, a gooey, milky sloppy sweet thing. Whereas in England ‘pudding can mean a savoury dish (cheese pudding, black pudding etc.), a steamed pudding (treacle pudding, ginger pudding etc.) or … it can be used as a general word to mean the dessert course.

For example ‘that was an excellent roast chicken and I’m looking forward to my pudding now’. But that ‘pudding’ could be ice cream, gateau, fruit – it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be pudding as such. So American visitors shouldn’t be baffled when they hear an English person say ‘what’s for pudding?’

To use the word ‘pudding’ for dessert is deemed to be correct English.  In the 1950s British linguist Alan S. C. Ross, professor of linguistics, developed the terms “U” and “non-U” in an article, on the differences that social class makes in English language usage.

In the list of terms, ‘pudding’ is the acceptable word to use for dessert, ‘sweet’ the ‘lower class’ one.




JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.
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