read for a degree

Discussion in 'English Only' started by westcoaster, Aug 8, 2009.

  1. westcoaster Junior Member

    English - USA
    This is a question mainly directed to North Americans (Americans and Canadians):

    Is the above phrase commonly used in the U.S. and Canada? I'm wondering whether the average Joe or Jane would understand it.

    In fact, I am fully aware that phrases such as "get/earn/study for/work for a degree" are more customarily used or heard in North America than the above phrase.

    Any clarifications in this matter would be greatly appreciated.
  2. DBlomgren

    DBlomgren Senior Member

    Costa Rica
    English, USA
    In my experience, it's not used in the United States. It's very British. I don't think the average person would understand it. I first came across it in British ESL books. (By the way, the most confusing British English I have found is "to make redundant," which I now know means to lay off.
  3. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I "read" Biochemistry at Oxford, but have never heard the phrase since 1980 when I left the UK :D (DB - I think most euphemisms have that quality, whether from AmE or BrE!)
  4. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    This is standard terminology in the TV programme University Challenge.
    Contestants introduce themselves giving name and where they are from and ending with something like "... reading chemistry; ... reading astrophysics; ...".
    Well, it used to be. I have a feeling it is somewhat less common now.
  5. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English
    It is not used in the United States, and many people would have no idea what it would mean. University education in the United States is very different from university education in the UK. Students in American universities are expected to,and even required to, take courses in fields outside their particular specialty (or "major", as it is called in the US.) The idea of "reading" only a single subject would be thought very odd in the US.
  6. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I confess I do miss University Challenge, which was probably where I heard the "reading" term the most frequently, since it didn't actually come up in conversation a lot (I was there in the late '60s - nudge-nudge). There is sadly no counterpart to it on TV in the US (that I am aware of).
  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hot news.
    I've just watched the first few minutes of tonight's University Challenge.
    It seems that university students no longer read ...
  8. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I'm sad to hear that.

    Quirkiness in language is always to be welcomed....

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