The Null Device

Transatlantic pedantry

Seen on the care instructions label attached to a piece of clothing from Swedish retailer H&M:

US English vs. GB English

What I'm wondering is: why are Americans advised to "wash with like colors" while Britons are instructed to "wash with similar colours"? Would there be any danger of anyone fluent in either dialect misunderstanding the other? Is "similar" in this context a conspicuously un-American usage, or "like" a shocking mangling of the Queen's English?

There are 3 comments on "Transatlantic pedantry":

Posted by: kstop Thu Apr 27 20:10:22 2006

It's a typo. They left out some commas, it should read "WASH WITH, LIKE, COLORS"

Don't be too hard on them, they're just trying to follow local customs.

Posted by: the other anonymous Fri Apr 28 06:13:04 2006

In America, vocabulary dimishes you!

Our educational system sucks and smart people are looked down upon. Therefore, we 1984 our language so we don't sound like nerdy liberal show-offs.

Posted by: Rudy Sun Apr 30 20:26:17 2006

While I like the explanations above, I think that here in the US "like colors" just happens to be the phrase that's always used on clothes. The Swedish manufacturer is probably just working from some kind of textile industry glossary. Although it seems silly for this phrase, there may be other laundry expressions which differ more radically in the US and UK. Laundromat vs. Laundrette? Jumper vs. Sweater?

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