The English tag features blog posts about the English language, its people, cultures and history and English translation services.


What is the difference between dialect and accent?

Difference between dialect and accent
Dialects and accent / Stock photo

Difference between dialect and accent

Dialects and accents are two things people tend to confuse. They’re not interchangeable and quite different. Dialects can involve localized words and different expressions while accents are purely pronunciation and sound.


A dialect is a particular way of talking that is intrinsic to a town or a part of a country and it involves the use of distinctive patterns, grammar and vocabulary. A person’s use of particular words and phrases can be an interesting way of finding out or inquisitively testing one’s knowledge of where they might come from.

An example of the use of different types of vocabulary would be how the Scottish say wee and bonny instead of little and pretty, respectively. Another example of how the Scottish dialect affects English grammar would be in their vocabulary; one such example of this is when they say, I dinna ken instead of I don’t know.


Accents are only concerned with pronunciation and not with vocabulary or grammar. The most important aspect of an accent is the particular sound used to create it.

There are common points between dialects and accents, in fact, both can tell us from which part of a country a person comes. However, they can change over time due to similar cultural connections and influences. A person’s accent and dialect really depends on where that person lives, and to whom they have spent time talking.

For instance, Scottish people have a distinct accent when they speak English, one of their native languages. Although they also have a dialect using variants of English words to mean other things. The same can be said for Australian people.

The STAR Team

Talk Like a Pirate!

Words to help you talk like a pirate on International Talk Like a Pirate Day
Pirate words for International Talk Like a Pirate Day / STAR Translation Imaging

International Talk Like a Pirate Day

We’ve gathered some typical phrases to help you talk like a pirate for International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

  • Ahoy: hello
  • Aye: yes
  • Aye aye: affirmative, a response accepting an order
  • Avast!: no way or Get off!
  • Aargh!: yes; I agree; I’m happy
  • Beauty: c’mere, me beauty
  • Bilge rat: a rat from the lowest level of a ship
  • Grog: an alcoholic drink, usually rum diluted with water
  • Hornpipe: a lively dance associated with sailors
  • Lubber, short for landlubber: someone unfamiliar with the sea or sailing
  • Smartly: quickly
  • Bunghole: a hole or aperture in a barrel or cask
  • Shiver my timbers: a mock oath attributed to sailors

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What is the difference between a ship and a boat?

Difference between a ship and a boat
Is it a ship or a boat? / Stock photo

Difference between a ship and a boat

A boat is a human construct that can float and traverse on water.

A boat serves a need for sea, or inland waterway transport and supports various activities such as the transport of persons / goods; war at sea; fishing; boating and other services such as the safety of other boats.

A ship is a strong boat designed for navigation at sea and carrying tonnage, that is to say, when it is scheduled to navigate beyond the limit at which technical safety regulations for inland navigation cease to apply.

There are several types of ships including cargo ships such as oil ships and military ships (e.g. aircraft carriers).

We can say that these two words are very often misused. From a general point of view, the word boat is colloquial and the word ship is more formal. But we often speak of the same thing and intermix the use of both words.

A clear difference between the two is that a ship can carry a boat, but a boat cannot carry a ship.

An exception to this rule of thumb is that ferries are not regarded as ships but as boats; however, cruise ships that look and probably have the same weight are ships.

What do you think, is the photo above a ship or a boat?

The STAR Team

English words in the French language

C'est cool, je vais manger un steak ! English words in the French language
C’est cool, je vais manger un steak ! It’s cool, I’ll eat a steak! / Stock photo

Most used English words in the French language

In a previous post, we talked about French words that are used in the English Language – the opposite also exists i.e. English words in French.

Many English words are used by the French daily. The influence of the French language on English is not unique. There are still some people in France who refuse to adopt these words, but without realizing they use them every day.

For the most part, there are some words that there is no real translation in French. Here are some examples of English words that are regularly used in the French language.

  • Barman
  • Chewing gum
  • Cocktail
  • Cowboy
  • Fan
  • Hamburger
  • Match
  • Pullover
  • Steak
  • Toast

As for French words in the English language, there are words that don’t have the same meaning in France

One such word: star, is used in French which only means celebrity. The influence of English is not only in simple words, some words were Frenchified.  These words don’t really exist in English, but are very similar with or without the same meaning.

The following are some examples with an English translation …

  • Parking: car park
  • Smoking: suit / dinner jacket
  • Rugbyman: rugby player
  • Babyfoot: table football

It’s also worth noting that most popular sports are kept in their original English names: football, handball, basketball, tennis etc.

The STAR Team

French Words You Already Know


Believe it or not, you already know how to speak some French!

You know the latest product a la mode, you have a rendez-vous and you eat foie-gras.

You use French words in your everyday English vocabulary. You just don’t know it.

There are officially more than 300 French words in use in the English language that have French origins. Some of the words are still in use the French language, but some of them are obsolete words in France, or words that have different meaning now.

For example, petit-four in English is a design style for small desserts / cakes, but in French, it’s a salty canape to eat as an aperitif (cocktail). Or au jus, a sauce served with food or meat served with its natural juices from cooking. It’s no longer used in French except for in another sense: the slang, “etre au jus“, meaning to be informed.

Many French words are present in the English language because of the use of French in the English courts throughout the 11th century, after the Norman invasion of England of 1066.

For several centuries, government administration was in French. Today, nearly a third of English words are either French or have had a French influence.

Other famous French words used in English are:

  • Adieu, “to God”: a permanent goodbye, therefore you will never see them again
  • Baguette [no literal translation]: typical French bread
  • Bon apetit, good appetite [literal translation]: means “enjoy your meal”
  • Cliché, “stereotype”: fixed idea you have about something, also photographic term in French
  • Crème Fraiche, “fresh cream”: heavy cream with bacterial culture
  • Déjà-vu, “already seen”: illusion of thinking you have already witnessed a particular event or seen something before
  • Hors-d’oeuvre, “outside the work”: appetizer, also a starter in French
  • Omelette [no literal translation]: mix of fried eggs, typical French meal
  • Tête-à-tête, “head-to-head”: intimate time, discussion between two people
  • Vis-à-vis, “face-to-face”: opposed to vis; it’s an obsolete word in French for face; visage is its contemporary

The STAR Team

Most Misused Word Officially Changed Definition

Pages of an open dictionary, most misused word in English

Most Misused Word, Literally Changes

Not really, but the redefinition of the word literally leaves it in a rather awkward state. Perhaps it is a word best avoided for the moment!

The most misused word in the language has officially changed definition, literally! Some dictionaries have added its other more recent usage alongside its original one: in a literal manner or sense; exactly‘.

The driver took it literally when asked to go straight over the traffic circle.

Google defines its new meaning as, can be used “to acknowledge that something is not literally true but is used for emphasis or to express strong feeling.

The STAR Team

Source: Martha Gill, The Guardian

British and American word differences

British and American word differences
British and American flags respectively / Stock photo

British and American word differences

In the last few weeks, we’ve spoken about English accents, like the Irish accent or the Australian accent. But accents aside, there are a number of differences between English words according to where you live. The two most notable ones are British English and US English.

Depending whether you were born in the UK or the USA meant that you learned a different type of English, in terms of spelling and grammar.

For example, if you’re American and you decide to use a British cookbook, it’s not often easy to understand all the words for different foods.

Aubergine in British English is Eggplant in American English. You even have to deal with cups and ounces as opposed to the easier metric system of kilograms and grams. It’s typical to read a “cup of flour” in a US cookbook, but people in the UK are confused by that kind of terminology. What is a cup? There are so many different cup sizes. What’s it based on? Well, I’ll leave that for another post…

A cup is exactly 236.6g

Take the prepositions, to and for, that have subtle usage differences in both the UK and the USA. Also, we find little differences in spelling with two letters in particular: S and Z; for example, recognize in British English and recognise in US English.

Most of the time foreign students learn both variants of English (as we’ll call them that for now) to acquire the maximum vocabulary benefit no matter where they are in the world. Although at times it’s difficult to identify these subtleties in the English language.

Below is a non-exhaustive table of British English (and Irish English) words and their American English equivalents.

British English US English
Baggage reclaim Baggage claim
Bonnet Hood
Botanic garden Botanical garden
Colour Color
Conserves Preserves
Drink driving Drunk driving
Dumper truck Dump truck
Flat Apartment
Holiday Vacation
Licence License
Defence Defense
Mobile Cell
Porridge Cooked oatmeal
Pyjamas Pajamas
To rent For rent
Underground or Tube Subway

Find other examples of US / UK English through the links below.

The STAR Team

Proofreading test, the answer

English proofreading test, the answer – classroom board
English proofreading test, the answer is below.

English proofreading test, the answer

A little proofreading test for you to figure out today.

This sentense has two mistakes.

What are the mistakes? Try to figure it out before you view the answer below.

The Answer

Have you worked it out yet?

There are two mistakes; however, it’s a bit of a trick question and an important exercise to demonstrate the skills required of professional proofreaders.

  1. Everyone gets the first mistake: the word sentence is spelt incorrectly. Proofreaders are trained to spot mistakes in grammar, spelling, punctuation etc.
  2. The second mistake is that the sentence only has one spelling mistake. It should say, ‘this sentense has one mistake‘.

This highlights the proofreaders other skills, that of checking context, content and the correctness of sentences, paragraphs etc. Does the sentence state what it’s supposed to say and is the context correct?

Often during translation, the actual content of the string isn’t checked. All the words are correct, but the sentence might be written incorrectly in English or translated incorrectly.

On a separate note, it’s worth noting that we often find mistakes (both spelling mistakes and syntax errors) in the English documents we’re sent for translation. Good translators will be checking the texts they work on for mistakes and potential mistranslations such as those previously outlined.

The next time you look at authoring, translation or proofreading, remember to check the easy stuff (i.e. spelling) and the harder part (i.e. syntax and grammar).

We hope you enjoyed it. Try another proofreading test.

The STAR Team

The Comma

Basic Comma Rules

The comma
The comma, its use and function.

Basic comma rules in the English language

Place a comma before: and (conjunction), but (conjunction), for (preposition), or (conjunction), nor (adverb and conjunction), so (adverb), and yet (adverb) when they connect two independent clauses1.

Examples of comma usage

  • E.g. She hit the shot, and he cheered for her.

Separate three or more items in a series with a comma.

  • E.g. We want to protect cats, dogs, and horses.

Place a comma after an introductory phrase.

  • E.g. Because I was hungry, I bought a hamburger.

Set off interrupters with pairs of commas, pairs of em dashes, or pairs of parentheses.

  • The hamburger, hot and juicy, tasted great
  • The hamburger — flamed grilled on the BBQ — tasted great
  • The hamburger, which was hot and juicy tasted great
  • The hamburger (made from ground beef and tofu) tasted great

Place commas around the name of a person or group spoken to.

  • E.g. I hope, Julia, that you’re going with me.

Place commas around an expression that interrupts the sentence.

  • E.g. We took our fishing rods, therefore, and got into the boat.

*Clause: a grammatical unit next below a sentence in rank and said to consist of a subject and a predicate.

The STAR Team

Great play on words by Cadbury

Cadbury's chocolate ad, play on words
They don’t have Gross Domestic Product / Cadbury

Play on words in humorous Cadbury ad

While driving I came across a great advert from Cadbury, which uses language really well. Or at least, it had a great play on words.

The subject, gross domestic product has two meanings. Are we talking about a horrible product or how much the country makes?

It shows someone was really thinking on this brief. Now the challenge is, ‘how would you translate this ad?

This is one of the hardest jobs for translators. In fairness this advert is probably targeted at the local market, but it’s a great example of how sentences can cause confusion very easily during translation.

In translation, there is a process called transcreation, which is used to translate advertisements and marketing material like this. Typically a document is translated and then new adjustments are made afterwards,so the emotion and intent is carried over into the target language.

We also found another good example of a play on words the other day: “Time flies like an arrow”, easy to understand, hard to translate.

Do you have any other good examples? Let us know in the comments below.

The STAR Team