Friday, May 09, 2008

blinkers and indicators

Better Half, Grover and I were waiting to cross the street/road yesterday. BH and I were both annoyed when the oncoming car that was making us wait suddenly turned left instead of passing us. Simultaneously, we made sarky (BrE informal, = sarcastic) comments. The funny thing about our comments was that each of us had accommodated the other's dialect. That is to say, BH used an AmE term and I used BrE:
BH: Nice use of your (AmE) blinkers! (=BrE indicators)
Me: Nice (BrE) indicating! (=AmE signal(l)ing)
In AmE, the more formal term for blinkers is turn signals.

Is dialect accommodation the definition of true love?

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is dialect accommodation the definition of true love?

Nah, but it is polite. I (an American) remember one day working with a British woman (in a third, non-English-speaking country). When she asked me for the flashlight, I told her that it was next to the kerosene tin.

Jo said...

(By the way, had you run into the geeky AmE "snarky" to mean sarcastic? I'd always wondered where that word had come from, and now I think I see a family resemblance.)

lynneguist said...

Anon, if you were being polite, should you have said paraffin tin? (BrE paraffin (oil) = AmE kerosene; In AmE paraffin only refers to the waxy form.

Jo, I love the word snarky because there's something really satisfying about the /sn/. I just started writing a lot about it, but I'm going to move it to another post...

mollymooly said...

BrE blinkers = AmE blinders, for horses.

Fnarf said...

My favorite bumper sticker of all time is "Visualize Using Your Turn Signals".

Jonathan Bogart said...

mollymooly: the horsey sense of "blinkers" remains at least vestigially in AmE, in expressions like "blinkered vision" and so forth. (Or have I read so many BrE texts that it's part of my dialect, and I'm confusing that with AmE?)

lynneguist said...

No, you're right, JB. Horses wear blinkers in both dialects.

hober said...

And in New England, they're "directionals."

lynneguist said...

...which is short for directional indicators, as is indicators.

Howard said...

As a BrE speaker, I've got to admit I don't think of 'blinkers' as particularly American. I use the word without sensing any American influence (after all, it's not a word that comes up often in American movies or T.V. programme imports!), and so do many Brits. The COED (11th ed., 2004)does not mark the usage as 'Am.', which it usually does for adopted expressions.

lynneguist said...

Well, BH followed his statement with "Did you like my American English?", so he apparently does perceive it as AmE.

American Jackie said...

Don't know about the rest of the country, but we don't say "blinkers" in California. Blinkers sounds rather British to me actually.

Aviatrix said...

I (in Canada) might understand blinkers on a car to be the hazard lights or four-way flashers, but I wouldn't use "blinkers" for the turn signals, even though they are the same light bulbs.

apgraves said...

To my BrE ears, 'indicators' sounds impossibly formal. You'd only call them that if you were quoting the highway code or a car spares catalog(ue). Otherwise they're winkers, not blinkers.

California 29er said...

Is dialect accommodation the definition of true love?

As an American linguist married to a Scot linguist, I must say yes!

:-)

Aoife said...

That's sweet :)

Though having lived with a New Yorker flatemate for this academic year, such dialect accommodation gets somewhat confusing when we start using each other's "pants" (the word, not the garment, mind!).