1. ClimbEveryMountain

    ClimbEveryMountain Senior Member

    Murray, KY
    Español
    Hi there, everyone.

    I got this question... Is there any difference in meaning between burp and belch??? I mean, is one of them more formal or informal or maybe one is slang and the other isn't... You tell me, I'm ready to learn.
     
  2. SDLX Master

    SDLX Master Senior Member

    Lima, Peru
    Spanish - Peru
    Ambas significan lo mismo, pero burp es más coloquial y también más onomatopéyico. Belch es una forma más educada de decirlo.
     
  3. ClimbEveryMountain

    ClimbEveryMountain Senior Member

    Murray, KY
    Español
    Thank you, SDLX Master.
     
  4. SDLX Master

    SDLX Master Senior Member

    Lima, Peru
    Spanish - Peru
  5. castedoe New Member

    Lexington, MA, USA
    English, USA
    Sorry, but I have to disagree about blech being more formal than burp. Burp is the word normally used and belch is slang.
     
  6. gengo

    gengo Senior Member

    Always trust SDLX! Sorry, castedoe, but you are mistaken here. There is nothing whatsoever slang about the word belch.
     
  7. castedoe New Member

    Lexington, MA, USA
    English, USA
    Interesting, I see now from the dictionary that burp is a 20th C word and belch has been around for centuries. I would have said just the opposite.

    I grew up as a child in the mid-atlantic US during the 70's and 80's and internalized "burp" as the normal word for this. When I first heard "belch" I believe it was in college (in the midwest) and its use had a comical sense. Thus I've always associated "belch" as slang.
     
  8. gengo

    gengo Senior Member

    Yes, that's correct. And that's what SDLX was saying, that belch has a higher register than burp. That is, a doctor might refer to belching as a symptom, rather than burping. Or, Miss Manners might say that it is not polite to belch.

    Note that belch can be used in other, similar contexts, such as "the smokestacks belched black smoke day and night." We can't use burp in that context.
     
  9. Masood Senior Member

    Leicester, England
    British English
    Me acuerdo una vez estaba dando una clase de inglés a algunos alumnos extranjeros adolescentes. Uno de ellos eructó en voz alta y los demás saltaron una carcajada. En vez de regañarlo, decidí aprovecharme de la oportunidad de sacar el tema de burp y belch.

    Anyway, I agree with gengo/SDLX about the different registers for burp and belch.
     
  10. LaLoquita Senior Member

    Indiana, USA
    American English
    I, like castedoe, always thought that burp was more polite and belch was more "vulgar." (A lady might burp, but the guy in the seedy bar belches.)

    It's possible that the degree of formality is different in the midwest, because everyone I know uses belch more as a slang, or less polite, word. But maybe not, because I see that castedoe is from Massachussetts. Interesting!

    You learn something new every day!
     
  11. gengo

    gengo Senior Member

    La Loquita, my guess is that what happened is this. The original word was belch. Because English speakers tend to like euphemisms for words that refer to bodily functions, we invented the onomatopoeia burp so that we wouldn't have to directly mention the word belch. Over time, the word burp became so popular that many people were less familiar with the word belch, and started using it as an alternative to burp, thinking that it sounded stronger. And this may have led people to think that belch was a coined word for burp.

    Just conjecture.
     
  12. LaLoquita Senior Member

    Indiana, USA
    American English
    Makes sense to me, Gengo! Very good explanation!
     
  13. castedoe New Member

    Lexington, MA, USA
    English, USA
    I think gengo's conjecture is on to something.

    Anybody know of a fancy term for when an archaic term gets re-introduced into the language with a new sense, which from the view point of correct past usage is incorrect? Like my and LoQuita's sense of "belch".

    For instance, I think a similar thing has happened with "Thou". My understanding is that at certain point in English history "Thou" used to be the informal 2nd person and "You" was the formal 2nd person. Today I imagine lots of people think "Thou" is super-formal because they associate it with biblical quotes and assume it is more formal.
     
  14. castedoe New Member

    Lexington, MA, USA
    English, USA
    Oh, and by the way LaLoquita, I grew up around DC and I don't think I heard the term belch until I went to college at the University of Illinois and I think it is there that I got my association of belch being comic, strong and more vulgar.
     
  15. LaLoquita Senior Member

    Indiana, USA
    American English
    Yes, that's right. Thee, thy, thou--they're equal to the Spanish tú and and tu.
    But since that's the language used in the King James translation of the Bible, a lot of people think it's very formal.

    (There was a Spanish translation of the Bible made shortly before the King James--la Versión Reina y Valera, I think it is called) it was interesting to me to compare the usage of tú and vosotros with the thee and ye (informal plural of you) of the King James.)
     
  16. LaLoquita Senior Member

    Indiana, USA
    American English

    I knew it was a midwest thing!! :D
     
  17. Bigote Blanco Senior Member

    The newborn child burped after feeding.
    The newborn child belched after feeding.

    The drunk old man belched after finishing his last beer.
    The drunk old man burped after finishing his last beer.

    These two words, although they indicate the same physiological function, are utilized quite differently and, without doubt, do relay different information.

    Just a fun observation:):):)Bigote Blanco(beeellch!)
     
  18. gengo

    gengo Senior Member

    Yes, we would never say "Time for me to belch the baby"!

    And I have to admit that in your two examples of the drunk man, the first gives me the impression of a louder (and perhaps more intentional) noise than does the second.

    Language is funny.
     
  19. rap.parsons Senior Member

    Pennsylvania
    English
    Very interesting -- my first reaction was that burp is normal and belch is somewhat vulgar. Then I read all the posts and have kind of come to the opposite conclusion. An excellent discussion with some very good examples.
     
  20. Damnjoe Senior Member

    U.S. English
    My guess is that the usage of "belch" would be more akin to "pejorization," which is when a word becomes worse over time due to its association with something bad. Like all of the euphemisms for the bathroom. (For example, restroom is a euphemism for bathroom which is a euphemism for toilet which was originally a dressing room of some sort. Due to being associated with poop, they take on negative connotations over time.) Maybe belch originally wasn't all that bad till time made it so. But then, maybe this was only in isolated places such as the midwest where there was less contact with the standard dialect (or maybe the influence of England on the seacoast(???))

    I can't imagine a word getting reintroduced into the language after disappearing and thus being "worse" because of it's lack of familiarity. Seems like it should be the other way around. But that's just my guess.

    It's funny because the Quakers used thou for everyone (instead of you) in an attempt to say everybody was equal. But they just ended up sounding old fashioned (e.g. formal) because everyone else was replacing everything with "you" for the same effect. But I think that thou and you is something different than belch, because the former seem to be more of an effect of changing social conditions.

    To agree with what was said above, I'm from the midwest and for me a burp is like a polite little exhumation of gas from the stomach while a belch is like what Barney does on the Simpsons.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2010

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