Sunday, September 5, 2010


Ah, two nations separated by a common language.

I see every indication that the following part of a story is written in English, but I have only the vaguest idea[*] what they are talking about. See for yourself:

Spinner Graeme Swann found massive turn to take 2-14 as Pakistan struggled.

England also had batting problems, but Eoin Morgan and Michael Yardy put on 67 from 43 balls in a five-wicket win.

They came together after Luke Wright had been bowled on the sweep for a duck, leaving England in a precarious position at 62-5 after 10 overs in Cardiff.

Many players on both sides had made batting look difficult on a slow wicket, with the ball stopping in the pitch.

I wonder if the British feel the same way when they read the description of someone "throwing a pitch" in baseball!

But one thing I like about British sportswriters is that they don't mind being rude when describing someone who "produced a series of desperate swishes at fresh air". We could use a bit of that when a millionaire strikes out.

I know a bit more than I let on. I've actually played a bizarre version of street cricket (using trash cans for wickets) with some Aussie-Americans, but it would take a lot of gin for me to sit and watch a match on TV. But I am only guessing at what "2-14" means, and I have no clue at all what a "duck" might be.


Doctor Pion said...

This is not a minor problem when you teach physics to a diverse group of students. Homework problems that take for granted the seemingly simple meaning of "pitching" a ball can be quite mysterious to foreign students who come out of the British English speaking world (such as India and significant parts of Africa).

lynneguist said...

I've been writing a blog on British/American English differences for a few years now (GoogleAlerts let me know that you used the 'separated...' phrase). You might find it interesting if you like these kinds of things. I ran a little competition for the most opaque British or American English tweet a while ago, and it was a cricket tweet that 'won' the competition:

Baseball probably isn't quite as opaque to the British, as they play a similar game called 'rounders' (which they regard as a sort of girly cricket), though the stats terms and such would probably stump most cricket followers (and that's kind of a pun...).