garbage vs. rubbish

Copperknickers

Senior Member
Scotland - Scots and English
<moderator note: these posts were split off another thread discussing a different topic. Original thread can be found here.>

That's the source AntiScam gave us a link to in post 1, MrP;).
I wheely really wouldn't have seen any of those as specifically American, Copperknickers....
'Garbage' is an American English word that I've never heard anyone use in the UK, 'jail' is used in both but has associations with the USA (most Brits would use 'prison' for the noun), 'ya' is a way of indicating a broad accent, but doesn't apply to most modern British regional accents.
 
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  • Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    'Garbage' is an American English word
    "Garbage" is an English word first recorded in about 1430, long before there was an American, let alone American English. It seems to have first been used to mean general refuse in the 1580s, again before there was AE. I've been familiar with it for as long as I can remember, but I'll happily accept that it wasn't anywhere near as widely used as "rubbish". I got the joke as soon as I read it, and also saw the word "garbo" as a clear indication of Australian origin, so I'm with Loob.
     

    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    "Garbage" is an English word first recorded in about 1430, long before there was an American, let alone American English. It seems to have first been used to mean general refuse in the 1580s, again before there was AE. I've been familiar with it for as long as I can remember, but I'll happily accept that it wasn't anywhere near as widely used as "rubbish". I got the joke as soon as I read it, and also saw the word "garbo" as a clear indication of Australian origin, so I'm with Loob.
    Don't split hairs, you know perfectly well that 'garbage' is an American English word that is rarely used in standard English. Many American English words have their origin in British words from hundreds of years ago, but that is totally irrelevant. We all speak the same language so obviously words get mixed and matched, the important thing is frequency. Garbage is an infrequent word in the UK, 'ya' is also infrequent, 'jail' less so but altogether it's very easy to see that the text in the OP is not British English. If you are familiar with Australian terminology then great, but to someone who isn't, that text looks like an unusual variety of American English that is closer than usual to British English. And when I say 'to someone', I mean 'to me', it was just a personal opinion.
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    Don't split hairs, you know perfectly well that 'garbage' is an American English word that is rarely used in standard English. Many American English words have their origin in British words from hundreds of years ago, but that is totally irrelevant. We all speak the same language so obviously words get mixed and matched, the important thing is frequency. Garbage is an infrequent word in the UK, 'ya' is also infrequent, 'jail' less so but altogether it's very easy to see that the text in the OP is not British English. If you are familiar with Australian terminology then great, but to someone who isn't, that text looks like an unusual variety of American English that is closer than usual to British English. And when I say 'to someone', I mean 'to me', it was just a personal opinion.
    It's just my personal opinion, but I don't "know" this, probably because I'm not British. Re "jail", when you said "it's very easy [for me] to see...", were you referring to the trans-Atlantic spelling difference "gaol/jail", with the British spelling being the one used in Australia?
     
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    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    It's just my personal opinion, but I don't "know" this, probably because I'm not British. Re "jail", when you said "it's very easy [for me] to see...", were you referring to the trans-Atlantic spelling difference "gaol/jail", with the British spelling being the one used in Australia?
    No, I just meant the general word choice I was noticing. The 'gaol' spelling is considered archaic in British English, we usually use 'jail'.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Don't split hairs, you know perfectly well that 'garbage' is an American English word that is rarely used in standard English.
    And don't be foolish; I know nothing of the sort. It is not splitting hairs to point out that this is not an "American" word. "Garbage" is used more commonly in AE than BE, but it is hardly an American word just because Americans use it more commonly than the British do. I have happily told people that they are talking "complete garbage" often enough - it seems somewhat more emphatic than "complete rubbish". The British National Corpus contains 277 hits for "garbage" in 153 different texts. It contains eight times as many hits for "rubbish". I already said "but I'll happily accept that it wasn't anywhere near as widely used as 'rubbish'", but a usage ratio of 8:1 hardly makes it a "word that is rarely used in standard English". If you claimed that "rubbish" is rarely used in American English I'd also disagree. The Corpus of Contemporary American English has a ratio of 1:9.6 (rubbish:garbage).

    If you choose to make emphatic statements of fact rather than expressing an opinion, your statements will be challenged. That ensures that people who are learning English will not be misled if they read this thread in the future.

    As I said,
    saw the word "garbo" as a clear indication of Australian origin
    The rest of it, with sentences like "Where's ya bin" could have come from anywhere. That's what I meant by "I'm with Loob".
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    Ah, context...If an American were too polite to say "Bullshit!" or even "That's a load of crap!", I think they'd be at least as likely to say "That's a load of rubbish!" as "...garbage!", where a Brit might say "That's just a load of cobbler's!" to mean "Don't talk nonsense!"
     

    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    And don't be foolish; I know nothing of the sort. It is not splitting hairs to point out that this is not an "American" word. "Garbage" is used more commonly in AE than BE, but it is hardly an American word just because Americans use it more commonly than the British do.
    But every American word is also a British word by that logic, since American English originated as British English as spoken by settlers in 17th and 18th Century America. If Brits sometimes use American words that doesn't make those words a standard part of British English. I use 'I guess' instead of 'I suppose', and 'movie' rather than 'film' nearly every day of my life, that doesn't make those British English expressions. Can you honestly say you would use the word 'garbage' if you had never heard an American person use it? I will be happy to concede the point if older speakers still remember a time when 'garbage' was used as part of British English, but in my experience it is never used in the UK except in the same way as other imports from the USA, such as in stock expressions and for specific purposes (like making it more emphatic, much as Brits sometimes use the American English word 'bullshit' when they need something more emphatic than 'load of shit'). The burden of proof is on you to prove that it is considered by any serious person as a BrE word, because all major dictionaries list it as 'American English' and if English learners believe that to be true, then their knowledge of English will be at least as good as mine.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    older speakers still remember a time when 'garbage' was used as part of British English
    Well, I'm 66, so I suppose I'm an older speaker.
    all major dictionaries list it as 'American English'
    The OED isn't a major dictionary?
    Refuse in general; filth.
    1887 Spectator 9 July 621/1 The river was the receptacle of the garbage and sewage of these domiciles.
    I can't remember as far back as 1887, but The Spectator is certainly British.

    Oxford online marks it as "chiefly North American", which I have already accepted given the usage ratios in the BNC and COCA.
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    What about to refer to something that's worthless? Among "rubbish", "garbage", "trash", or"crap" - or, of course, some other word - which sounds more GB to you, Copper? Or, since the OP asked about "wheely bin" vs. "really been", have we all been commiting the MORTAL SIN of WR and "bin" off-topic [ big :D ] since #8 , getting either "bogged" or "toileted" (;)) down in side issues?
     

    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    Well, I'm 66, so I suppose I'm an older speaker.
    Older than me at least, since I can't speak for any English usage before the year 2000 other than what I've read and seen on TV. It's difficult to tell sometimes whether something is an American import or British when you grew up in a Britain where some people are more exposed to American culture than they are to British culture in terms of media.

    Oxford online marks it as "chiefly North American", which I have already accepted given the usage ratios in the BNC and COCA.
    Well we'll have to agree to disagree on what 'chiefly North American' means. To me it means it's an American word which is also used in the UK occasionally, like 'movie'. It's a level down from something like 'sidewalk' but it's not an exact synonym for 'rubbish' in the ordinary speech of most Brits as it is for Americans.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Actually, we don't use rubbish as a synonym for garbage when speaking literally. We don't generally have rubbish bins or dust bins, we have garbage cans. We pick up trash or litter off the street, not rubbish. It is used here more in figurative settings.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I think there's a nice - inverse:D - parallel with garbage vs rubbish in my version of BrE, James; what I throw away is "rubbish", but I happily use "garbage"* to comment on an inaccurate statement.




    * with no detectable American overtones
     
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