AE/BE "pop" So I popped him on the bed.

emma42

Senior Member
British English
I have just been thinking about the awful case a few years ago in America, of the British nanny who was accused of killing a baby in her charge. Part of the prosecution evidence against her was that she said something like, "So, I popped him on the bed".

In BE this means that she put him on the bed. Apparently, in AE it just means she hit him whilst he was on the bed. I was flabbergasted.

In BE "pop" is used all the time to mean "put", often "temporarily put":

Just pop your coat on the chair for a minute and then we'll go out.

Just pop the cups on the shelf

Just pop little Henry in his pushchair

So, is this a real BE/AE divide and what did Americans think of the nanny's explanation of her use of the word. Was she believed? My intention is not to discuss the nanny case per se, just this word.
 
  • boonognog

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    Speaking as an 'American', no... I would not understand "So, I popped him on the bed" to mean that the child was popped while in bed.

    Someone is trying to push this issue. It sounds like there is an ulterior motive (Could it be? A lawyer with a motive??) to cause some misunderstanding in favor of the family.

    In fact, in the US, it's not uncommon to hear someone say "Pop in for a minute", or "Just pop it in the oven". It would be uncommon to hear "Pop little Henry in his pushchair", but if stated, it should likely be understood.

    It is also very likely that someone would use "pop" meaning "hit", though.
     

    emma42

    Senior Member
    British English
    boonognog. I am confused. What would you think if you heard someone say, "I just popped the kid on the bed", or would you need context?
     

    boonognog

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    Well... If I heard an American say that, completely out of context, I would probably ask a clarifying question to be sure, and expect it to mean that the kid was popped while on the bed.

    If I heard a 'Brit' say it, on the other hand, I would expect it to mean 'placed', and think otherwise only if some contrafuting evidence surfaced.
     

    boonognog

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    Yes. I am familiar with the word.

    In fact, I woud expect even an American to understand the phrase "popped him into bed" (rather than 'on') as being placed in bed.

    In fact... I would expect a person who said 'popped' meaning 'hit' to reference the part of the person that was hit. Popped on the head, popped on the bottom, popped on the hand, etc.

    If I heard 'popped on the bed', I would be hard pressed to believe that the person meant 'while'...
     

    boonognog

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    Could be... I'll also admit that many people here would probably think they heard "popped him on the head" if a person said "popped him on the bed".
     

    Random1

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I would understand into bed, but for some reason on the bed only sounds like hitting him.....hmmm....

    I hear pop INTO a lot in america...

    Pop into the oven,
    Pop into the store,
    Pop into the microwave ect....
     

    erin2282

    Member
    English, California
    Hi,
    I must admit the explanation to your question is simple, but the context you use makes it difficlut to answer. Simply put, in AE "popping" somone is a not very often used (by a younger generation) expression for hitting someone.
    "I popped him", would mean I hit him swift and hard.

    But, since the nanny case was so high profile and everyone knew she was British one would have to be naive (sorry if I offend) to believe she meant hit. I agree with boonognog that a lawyer probably exploited this discrepency for the prosecution's benefit. (I didn't follow the case)

    Pop in AE can also be used to describe something that stands out. Usually used in fashion, make-up or hair styling.
    "This eyeshadow will really make your eye color pop."

    I also say that I'm going to "pop" in somewhere a lot, but with full knowledge that I ripped it from BE. I've noticed in NY and California that using BE words and expressions have become a trend: lovely, bloke, blimey, bloody, and others I've heard with some frequency.
     

    Random1

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Simply put, in AE "popping" somone is a not very often used (by a younger generation) expression for hitting someone.
    I have to disagree with this. Around here, whenever there is a fight or "confrontation," usually people say "John poped him first" or something along those lines.
     

    erin2282

    Member
    English, California
    I hate to sound too "regional" but maybe it's an east coast thing. Sure I hear it, but it's not common in California, and I volunteer with teenagers your age that get into plenty of confrontations.
     

    mariposita

    Senior Member
    US, English
    I just popped the kid on the bed"
    I would interpret this as "I put the kid on the bed for a minute." I have lived all over the US... I am familiar with the expression "I popped him (one)" meaning I hit him, but with this particular context that's not the meaning that I would ascribe, given the prepositional phrase "on the bed." I popped him on the playground, maybe. I popped him on the bed meaning I hit him sounds odd to me.
     

    marget

    Senior Member
    mariposita said:
    I would interpret this as "I put the kid on the bed for a minute." I have lived all over the US... I am familiar with the expression "I popped him (one)" meaning I hit him, but with this particular context that's not the meaning that I would ascribe, given the prepositional phrase "on the bed." I popped him on the playground, maybe. I popped him on the bed meaning I hit him sounds odd to me.
    I would probably compensate and think I heard "I just plopped the kid on the bed".
     

    Joelline

    Senior Member
    American English
    I had a slightly different understanding when the nanny made that statement. But it looks like I'm the only one who thought she meant that she had (possibly accidentally) hit or banged him against the bed when she said, "So, I popped him on the bed." We do have a similar expression in AE: "I plopped him on the bed," which would definitely mean, I put him down on the bed.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    There is some potential ambiguity without context.

    My interpretations of the sentence, devoid of context, in order of likelihood-

    I placed him on the bed.
    I hit him on the bed. (unlikely)
    I shot him on the bed. (highly unlikely)

    The ambiguity comes from the preposition, not the word 'pop'. An American would more likely say 'into the bed' or 'onto the bed' or 'in bed' or 'in the bed'.
     

    boonognog

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    Random1 said:
    I would understand into bed, but for some reason on the bed only sounds like hitting him.....hmmm....

    I hear pop INTO a lot in america...

    Pop into the oven,
    Pop into the store,
    Pop into the microwave ect....
    Random1, I think we would usually just hear "...so I popped him!" or "...so I popped him one!" (which is a weird idiomatic phrase...) And the spoken inflections would obviously be a clue as to which popping had occurred. ;)
     

    fenixpollo

    moderator
    American English
    I disagree that there is a regional difference in the understanding/use of "pop" to mean "hit" in AE.

    My confusion, though, comes from the fact that saying "popped him on the bed" makes it sound like she hit him right in his bed, as if the bed were a body part. Since it doesn't sound like natural idiomatic AE, I would ask for clarification and/or I would doubt that she meant to say "hit" in the first place.

    I would also like to hear more about the case, because it seems like it would be an oversimplification to say that she was convicted because of a language difference -- there had to be more to it than that.
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    Random1 said:
    To my AE ears, poping the kid on the bed
    :)
    This is a sacred ritual observed by fundamentalist Catholics - it entails holy oils, incense, candles, a picture of the Holy Father and much Gregorian Chant!

    Okay, it's just a typo and I'm feeling playful! :D
     

    emma42

    Senior Member
    British English
    You beat me to it, Tony!

    fenixpollo, I did not say that she was convicted solely because of the use of "pop". In fact, I can't remember whether she was convicted or not.

    We would also say "plopped him on the bed".

    Well, it does seem to be the case that the prosecution lawyer was going a bit far in exploiting the perceived AE/BE difference. But that is what you get in an adversarial system. I appreciate all your explanations.
     

    mariposita

    Senior Member
    US, English
    maxiogee said:
    :)
    This is a sacred ritual observed by fundamentalist Catholics - it entails holy oils, incense, candles, a picture of the Holy Father and much Gregorian Chant!

    Okay, it's just a typo and I'm feeling playful! :D
    I commend you for your restraint. My mind went to much darker places...
     

    fenixpollo

    moderator
    American English
    The pronunciation of "poping" would have the same long "o" as "Pope", rather than the "ah" sound of "popping".

    I think the darker places here are imagining something the Pope might do on a bed. :eek:
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    We must not overlook the possibility that this woman was raising monetary loans, giving her child as security.

    Half a pound of tuppenny rice,
    half a pound of treacle,
    mix it up and make it nice,
    pop goes the weasel.


    Maybe the pawnshops don't advance much on a weasel nowadays?
     

    coconutpalm

    Senior Member
    Chinese,China
    I see, fenix. You were referring to the scandals of pedophiles! Thank you!

    I didin't know there are so many usages of "pop" before I read this thread! Neither did I know there is such a difference between AE and BE. It would be disastrous if the judge didn't understand the old woman correctly.
     

    mariposita

    Senior Member
    US, English
    Oh, yes, I remember this case. There was much more to it than a mere linguistic misunderstanding about a "pop on the bed." Sad.

    Yes, coconutpalm--the hypocrisy of certain religious figures is fertile ground for humor and all sorts of creative inspiration. Your English is outstanding.
     
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