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A question of semantics

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posted on Oct, 29 2014 @ 06:29 AM
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This thread was inspired by another thread which is current in the off-topic section, titled 'Mad World'.

It refers to the song of the same name, written by British synth pop band, Tears For Fears.

I was just thinking how odd this must sound to an American ear...because 'mad' in Britain doesn't mean the same as it does in the US.

At least it didn't. But I'm coming to that.

If you ask a Briton, "Are you mad?", they will assume you're casting doubt on their mental capacity...and they wont be impressed.

If you ask an American the same question, they will think you are just wondering if they're angry.

British 'mad' = crazy

American 'mad' = angry

So 'Mad World' means 'crazy world' - not 'angry world'. But then, you knew that.





But then I thought...no, that can't be right.

The word 'mad' must have the same meaning on both sides of the Pond.

What about the well-known Dinah Washington classic, 'Mad About the Boy'?

That's clearly meant in the British sense of 'crazy'...but then it was written by a Brit (Noel Coward), who also wrote 'Mad Dogs and Englishmen'.

So I wracked my brains...hang on just a cotton-pickin' minute here, I thought.

What's that famous, highly successful US comedy movie classic from the 1960s called again...'It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World'? (viz. It's a Crazy, Crazy, Crazy, Crazy World; the title just doesn't work if the American meaning is intended)

American actors, American producer and director, and crucially, American screenwriter, William Rose.

Then I discovered that Rose went to live in Britain later in life, and married a British wife.

Guess what? Yup. She co-wrote that movie script with her husband.

All the famous titles of songs and films with 'mad' in (meaning 'crazy') seem to have been written, or influenced, by Britons.

It must sound strange to Americans...have they taken on the British meaning yet?

What does 'mad' mean to you?




posted on Oct, 29 2014 @ 06:41 AM
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a reply to: CJCrawley
You need to allow for progression over time, and the development of new meanings.
I would suggest that mad= crazy on both sides of the Altantic, but on one side it has picked up the additional meaning of mad = angry.

The same kind of variation can be seen in other words.
I wonder how many Americans would understand the use of "wicked" as a term of praise? "It's wicked, innit?"



posted on Oct, 29 2014 @ 06:45 AM
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It depends on context.
If my wife asks me if I'm mad, it usually means "are you angry". If I do something out of the ordinary and someone asks the same question, I take it as "are you crazy".
All depends on what's happening at the time. I assumed "are you mad" meant crazy for a long time. But, I read a lot, so many words have more than the obvious meaning to me.
edit on 29-10-2014 by DAVID64 because: spelling correction



posted on Oct, 29 2014 @ 06:52 AM
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a reply to: CJCrawley

I get the various meanings behind "Mad". But then again, I grew up a USAF military brat who traveled the world with my family and then enlisted myself and continued to do so. Until the last decade, I have lived most of my life outside of US borders. Now it's about 60/40.

The "Boot", "Lift", "Flat" among others, still throw many of my American Brethren for a loop though.



posted on Oct, 29 2014 @ 06:59 AM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

Wicked has been used in that way over here for quite a while now.
I can remember it being used to describe something good as far back as the early 80s.



posted on Oct, 29 2014 @ 07:04 AM
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a reply to: DAVID64
Ah. So perhaps another west-to-east import, then?
I associate it with the West Indian element in London society.



edit on 29-10-2014 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 29 2014 @ 07:06 AM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

Could be. With modern travel, New York to London in a few hours, things get around pretty quick.



posted on Oct, 29 2014 @ 07:14 AM
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a reply to: TDawgRex

Boot = trunk of a car
Lift = elevator
Flat = apartment or place where you live



posted on Oct, 29 2014 @ 07:19 AM
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a reply to: DAVID64
Hence, of course, "Boot sale", where people arrive in their cars and lay out for sale the items which they've loaded into the boot.



posted on Oct, 29 2014 @ 07:20 AM
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a reply to: DAVID64

Yes, I know that. I'm just saying that there is English slang all over the world that confuses people. Even from one part of the States to another.

For instance; "You're stupid man!"

Many would take that as an insult, but in this case (it does need a voice inflection behind it) it means, "You're funny man!"



posted on Oct, 29 2014 @ 07:21 AM
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It's not our fault you english people cant speak English.

Bonnet. Hood

Fag... smokes

Chips... fries



posted on Oct, 29 2014 @ 07:24 AM
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a reply to: TDawgRex
Ah, but "funny" is also ambiguous. It can mean "strange, or wrong", in various ways.
"He's a bit funny" is not necessarily a statement you would want to overhear about yourself.



posted on Oct, 29 2014 @ 07:27 AM
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the word mad has more than 1 meaning depending on context like the word Hey for example

Hey you !

Heyyyyyyy! (fonz)

Hey hey hey hey ! (Italians)

Hey!!!! (someone just trod on your foot)



posted on Oct, 29 2014 @ 07:27 AM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

You calling me funny?


NSFW



Most often, a word that has dual meanings behind it doesn't translate very well to the interwebz. Not only is it semantics, but also syntax.
edit on 29-10-2014 by TDawgRex because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 29 2014 @ 07:29 AM
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a reply to: TDawgRex
Perhaps you've heard the conventional way of clarifying the point;
" Do you mean 'funny ha-ha' or 'funny-peculiar'?"



posted on Oct, 29 2014 @ 07:55 AM
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a reply to: CJCrawley

American's are familiar with the british use of the term "mad". Although in some backwaters that awareness may fade. But we did have an amazing band called "Mad Season", using the british meaning of the word "mad" in their name.


Even better: buncha headbangers in Seattle formed the band. So there you go.



posted on Oct, 29 2014 @ 07:58 AM
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originally posted by: DISRAELI
a reply to: CJCrawley
You need to allow for progression over time, and the development of new meanings.
I would suggest that mad= crazy on both sides of the Altantic, but on one side it has picked up the additional meaning of mad = angry.

The same kind of variation can be seen in other words.
I wonder how many Americans would understand the use of "wicked" as a term of praise? "It's wicked, innit?"



You should head to Boston. It would be wicked cool.



posted on Oct, 29 2014 @ 07:58 AM
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originally posted by: DISRAELI
" Do you mean 'funny ha-ha' or 'funny-peculiar'?"


I hear Billy Bob in Slingblade saying something similar.



posted on Oct, 29 2014 @ 08:18 AM
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originally posted by: Hoosierdaddy71
It's not our fault you english people cant speak English.

Bonnet. Hood

Fag... smokes

Chips... fries


American influence inevitably means British dialect is becoming ever more Americanised.

We're starting to call chips 'fries' now - but only when we eat at McDonald's.

Bonnet is still bonnet, and fags are still cigarettes, though they're also 'smokes' and 'cigs'.

I'm a smoker, and there are times when I could "kill a fag" - without intending any harm to my gay brethren.



posted on Oct, 29 2014 @ 08:23 AM
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originally posted by: bigfatfurrytexan
It would be wicked cool.


Could even be a pissah too.



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