Lost in (English) translation

Claudine Dervaes has always lived in Florida, where she has long operated her own publishing company ( But one day, she met John Hunter, a British tourist born in Scotland who lived in Blackpool, England. What began as a long-distance relationship jelled into a 23-year marriage.

But there was always head-scratching, she says.

"He'd say something like, 'Do you want to stop at a lay by?' Huh? I found out it means a rest area.' He'd say, 'Are you going to wear a jumper?' - and that's when I found out he meant a pullover sweater, not a type of dress."

Dervaes kept track of her husband's un-American expressions - and those of her in-laws and others. Like the time in a restaurant when her sister-in-law said, "I'm going to spend a penny." Translation: "I'm going to the restroom."

The linguistic differences grew into a book, "The UK to USA Dictionary: British English vs. American English," first published in 1992. The third edition came out recently ($6.95, Solitaire Publishing) with more revisions and additions - like a pronunciation guide and sections on spelling differences and Cockney rhyming slang.

Take it with you on your trip overseas: The paperback fits easily into your vest pocket. Over there, by the way, you'd call it a "waistcoat." When they say "vest," they mean "undershirt."