She included the following contrastive examples in her e-mail:Just came across a new Br/E expression I'd never heard used before, touting. Which in Am/E is scalping, buying tickets, then selling them right before the event for a very high price.
Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis explains why the photo ID scheme in place for this year's festival could mean the death of the ticket tout. BBC NewsMy first thought on this was that (BrE) ticket touts sometimes have different practices than (AmE) scalpers. Either might buy tickets to an entertainment event and then re-sell them for a higher price, but the English ticket touts that I encounter most often haven't invested in the tickets in the first place. These touts operate in London Underground stations, cadging* Travelcards (day-long tickets) from people who are finished travel(l)ing, in order to re-sell them (or possibly use them themselves). A disembodied voice at Victoria Station instructs travel(l)ers not to give unused tickets to touts because the money is used for illegal activities or drugs (or something like that). One would presume that their business is falling away rapidly, as the Oyster Card (a pay-as-you-go card) is quickly replacing the Travelcard for all but tourists.
Authorities turn up heat on scalpers. boston.com
So, there I am thinking that ticket tout has a broader meaning/use than scalper, until I read the OED on scalper, which tells us that the original ticket scalpers were:
U.S. slang. One who buys and sells at a profit, but at a price lower than the official one, unused portions of long-distance railway tickets.So, it's all the same thing, then--although the most recent quotation in the OED for this AmE sense is from 1891. The more recent sense of scalper is not unknown in the UK, but it is an originally AmE word--metaphorically related to the taking of actual scalps.
Thinking about touts/scalpers, led me to think about other street characters, and thus to the BrE word busker, meaning a street musician/performer--the type who puts a hat or violin case out for coins. AmE doesn't seem to have a word for this concept--I think one has to say street musician. How did I ever live without this word and its verb form to busk? My favo(u)rite busker in our old neighbo(u)rhood played the saw (We lived in a very busky place--and no, busky isn't BrE, it's LynneE.) We're actually trying to find him again to hire him for an upcoming event, so if you know a saw player in Brighton, please point him my way! This sense of busk may be related to an earlier sense meaning 'to cruise as a pirate', though the OED doesn't have full confidence in that etymology. But if you see a busker with an eyepatch or a hook for a hand, maybe you can submit that to the OED as etymological evidence.
While we're on the topic of music (wow, look at that pathetic segue!), this has nothing to do with dialects of English, but it does have to do with English, so I hereby note with amusement The Ex's single This Song is in English.
* This is not marked in the American Heritage Dictionary as BrE, but I hear cadge more often in BrE than I ever did in AmE--particularly in phrases like cadge a lift (AmE = beg/get a ride from). Michael Quinion over at World Wide Words has a nice little essay about it.