View Full Version : Two small queries about AmE usage, pretty please!

Los Pollos Hermanos
08-15-2016, 03:04 AM

Back again with a couple of little randoms after some ambiguous googling, so am pretty please asking for clarification. Both characters are American.

1). "He's filled his Twitter feed with incessant drivel."
Is drivel a frequently(ish) used word in AmE, or would something like garbage be more commonplace?
Context: A detective is updating another detective about a suspect.

2). "My periods are all over the show since having the coil fitted!"
Is the term coil used in the US, or is IUD (or something else) used instead?
Context: The unfortunate lady is having a private conversation with her husband.

Big thanks in anticipation,


08-15-2016, 03:08 AM
Drivel is common ime.

I think people tend to use the brand names more - Mirena or whatever, but failing that, I'd think IUD.

Not that you asked but 'all over the show,' isn't standard usage ime.

08-15-2016, 03:13 AM
Drivel is common ime.

I think people tend to use the brand names more - Mirena or whatever, but failing that, I'd think IUD.

Not that you asked but 'all over the show,' isn't standard usage ime.

Pretty much this. I think using drivel or garbage might be a level of education thing. I'd use drivel, but I don't think my grandmom would have.

And concur with "all over the show." It would be "all over the place".

Los Pollos Hermanos
08-15-2016, 03:31 AM
Big thanks to you both!

Proof that Google isn't always trustworthy - I checked "all over the place/show" as I've heard both (I'd use place myself, but have heard show used) and as show, erm, showed up on some obviously American websites I changed it from place. Place is back in its rightful place now - haha!

08-15-2016, 03:35 AM
In the US, we also say, all over the board, and in some cases, all over the map.

I've never heard of an IUD being called a coil here.

Los Pollos Hermanos
08-15-2016, 03:41 AM
I've changed it to IUD - my googling seemed to only throw up UK-based websites (e.g. NHS and Mumsnet) when the term coil was used.

If it's something I suspect may be UK terminology/slang I have a google to make sure. There's nothing more annoying than reading a story set in Colorado and the American main character tells another character she's left her jeep in the car park...

08-15-2016, 04:56 AM
It's the little things when stuff is set someplace you're not native to. I remember reading some interview with Julia Roberts in which she said she had a whole bunch of discussions with the director when making Notting Hill because the writer (Richard Curtis, writer of a number of blockbuster romcoms) had her character, an American, using little idiomatic expressions that tilted British. The movie is set in London, but her character isn't, and she had to keep explaining which phrasing just was off to her ear. It wasn't even stuff like 'put it in the boot,' but little phrasing.

I've also seen weirdness with someone from a warm climate setting something in a NE American city talking about everyone walking around bundled up in anoraks on top of layers, Arctic-proof boots, hats, balaclavas, sunglasses warding off the glare (not a particular thing in a city in winter really), rushing to get inside, in 29F ( like -1 C). It's the little things.

08-15-2016, 06:03 AM
Drivel is common ime.

I think people tend to use the brand names more - Mirena or whatever, but failing that, I'd think IUD.

Not that you asked but 'all over the show,' isn't standard usage ime.

agree on all counts.

"all over the place" would be more standard than "all over the show.

Chris P
08-15-2016, 06:13 AM
When you said "coil" I thought the car part that sends the electricity to the distributor cap then to the spark plugs.

I was waaaay confused.

Los Pollos Hermanos
08-15-2016, 08:40 PM
Haha! I wouldn't fancy one of those coils. ;) The mind boggles!!

I've done plenty of research over the years in terms of paying serious attention to the dialogue on American TV shows (our TV is pretty dire these days, so I watch quite a lot from the other side of the Pond) and I've always read far more US-based stories than UK-based. I've also bought a number of AmE vs. BrE books, which I dip into regularly as a refresher. I'm not saying I'm perfect, but I don't think I've done as badly as a couple of British authors (who I won't mention, but their dialogue must be bad if I notice).

In the US-based parts I'll use American terminology (e.g. windshield instead of windscreen) in both dialogue and narrative. Half the story is set in NW England, so I'm fine with those sections. Saying that, I've got a couple of characters from places I'm less familiar with (e.g. Scotland) and I've had to just write the dialogue as best I can and try to imagine people I know (e.g. an ex-colleague from Edinburgh) speaking the lines.

Throughout the narrative I use BrE spellings, apart from in a couple of newspaper reports. Then I'll use AmE spellings and written conventions such as "the incident occurred Friday evening" as opposed to "the incident occurred on Friday evening". In the US-based sections one of the main characters is English, and although he'll use AmE words instead of BrE words where appropriate (e.g. chips instead of crisps, gas instead of petrol, etc.) he speaks mostly like I would otherwise.

I've also been road trippin' for four out of the past seven summers - mostly in the name of research for the story - and was often asked how long I'd been living in the US. Apparently I do pretty well at hablaring the lingo. When in Rome (or Denver, or Phoenix) and all that, ask for Scotch tape rather than Sellotape (and numerous other random examples).

For those who are going :Shrug:


Sellotape is any type of thin transparent sticky tape in the UK, not just the stuff branded with that name. Scotch tape means actual Scotch tape and means that you've too much as it's quite pricey compared to the generic stuff.