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British / International English post vs. American mail terms

Posted: Dec 26, 2007 11:06 pm
by Gary
It seems I lived away from the USA too long and started using international and British English terms on this website.

I'll try to Americanize the site when I get a chance.
I would "British it up" but most Brits know the Americanized terms. However, many non-traveling Americans (such as George W. Bush) are still somewhat unaware of the outside world.

Postal glossary and info:

EMS is the international acronym for Expedited Mail Service. This has been renamed "Express Mail" in the USA and "Xpresspost International" in Canada.

Note that EMS is sometimes delivered by a separate department of the post office or even a different company (such as the UK where it's handled by Parcel Force).

Priority Mail International is similar to "Air Sure" in the UK. Basically, it's air mail that can be tracked and traced. Domestically, it's just "Priority Mail" in the USA.

The U.S. Postal Service has an 4 pound (2 kg) and under service called "First Class Mail International". This used to be known as "air letter post" or "air parcel post". It's basically a low weight air mail service, that is faster than surface mail but cannot be easily tracked or traced.

USA vs. UK Postal English:
Shipped = Dispatched
Mail = Post
S&H = P&P
Shipping and Handling = Postage and Packing
ZIP Code = Postal Code (ZIP is actually an acronym for "Zone Improvement Plan" - virtually everyone else in the world calls it a postal code)
Mailman = Postman
Mail box / mail drop = Post box / pillar box

The fact that the Brits tend to be more aware of the Americanized terms than vice versa means that more Americans need to get passports and travel.

Posted: Oct 8, 2008 12:02 pm
by swordhorder
Actually we tend to call a "mail box" a "post box" rather than a "pillar box" :D just so you know :D

Posted: Oct 8, 2008 5:51 pm
by Gary
I edited it. That pillar box title came from an older Brit that I knew in Beijing a few years back. Maybe they only call it that in his neighborhood.

We Americans get confused easily I guess. The fact that there are phrase books for Americans who travel to the UK is hilarious. It's full of things like "french fries are chips", "french toast is eggy bread", and "the hood of a car is a bonnet".

My baseline British English knowledge comes from my childhood when I watched way too much Monty Python. I still love old British sitcoms like "Are You Being Served?", "Keeping Up Appearances", and a rare one called "Butterflies".