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  1. #1
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    U.S. Vocab question

    Obviously people in the U.S. know what gas is and what a gas station is.

    In general, are people in the U.S. familiar with the U.K. terms 'petrol' and 'petrol station'?



  2. #2
    Rogue Mutt
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    Probably depends on the American. I'm familiar with it.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Gilfindel's Avatar
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    As am I. I suspect folks around here see enough British shows to be familiar with the terms.

  4. #4
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Yeah, no problem, particularly if a Brit character says it. However, if an objective narrator uses that term, it would stand out.

  5. #5
    Administrator Wickett's Avatar
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    No one around where I live uses petrol. I agree with John, make a Brit say it, but some may not get petrol station.

  6. #6
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    Thanks.

    It sounds like most people will get it. But Wickett's comment that some may not get 'petrol station', causes me to wonder if I need to do something about it...

    So if anyone else has an opinion on it – here's some more detail:

    It's for a piece of non fiction.

    I'm writing it in my own name and voice, and I would say 'petrol' and 'petrol station'.

    It's for a UK and US audience. I need US people to know what I'm on about.

    It's kind of a quick anecdote, and there are not enough other details to figure out what I'm on about without knowing those terms.

    If people both understand it and would realise it's a Brit writing as soon as they see the words, then that's actually better, since the anecdote is right at the start of the piece and so the terms will help start drawing a pic of who I am. Most readers won't know me until they read the piece – they will not have got their hands on the piece through knowing my name first.

    If pretty much most of my readers would know what those terms mean, then all's good. If not, i will simply explain the terms. It's not an issue to explain them. It doesn't really interrupt anything.

    If there's a significant doubt, then I'll explain the terms. But I don't want it to feel like it's talking down to people, explaining stuff they don't need explaining.

    The general audience would be fairly intelligent people who're interested in stuff. It's not for a piece of trash fiction or anything like that.

    Would you say those readers would be better off with or without the explanation?

    (I can send people the anecdote so they can give an opinion, but with the promise the anecdote won't be distributed anywhere. I can't publish it here or anywhere else.)

  7. #7
    Administrator Wickett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tayble View Post

    It's for a piece of non fiction.

    I'm writing it in my own name and voice, and I would say 'petrol' and 'petrol station'.
    I got to this point and realized that yes, you need to use "petrol" and "petrol station" just as you would normally. I also don't think an explanation would be necessary especially if you wrote the sentence in such a way that made a gas station seem appropriate. Then it'll click. "Oh yeah, petrol is gas."

  8. #8
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Thumbs up for me too. No explanation necessary.

  9. #9
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    If you are a Brit, then absolutely use it with no explanation. Why would you explain? Brits don't expect Americans to explain all their vernacular. These days, everyone is pretty much switched on.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tayble View Post
    Obviously people in the U.S. know what gas is and what a gas station is.

    In general, are people in the U.S. familiar with the U.K. terms 'petrol' and 'petrol station'?
    I'm pretty sure they'll be able to decipher that from the context.

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