H.L. Mencken (18801956). The American Language. 1921.
street-cleaner is a crossing-sweeper.8 The parish poorhouse is a workhouse. If it is maintained by two or more parishes jointly it becomes a union. A pauper who accepts its hospitality is said to be on the rates. A policeman is a bobby familiarly and a constable officially. He is commonly mentioned in the newspapers, not by his name, but as P. C. 643 Ai. e., Police Constable No. 643 of the A Division. The fire-laddie, the ward executive, the wardman, the roundsman, the strong-arm squad, the third-degree, and other such objects of American devotion are unknown in England. An English saloon-keeper is officially a licensed victualler. His saloon is a public house, or, colloquially, a pub. He does not sell beer by the bucket or can or growler or schooner, but by the pint. He and his brethren, taken together, are the licensed trade. His back-room is a parlor. If he has a few upholstered benches in his place he usually calls it a lounge. He employs no bartenders. Barmaids do the work, with maybe a barman to help.
The American language, as we have seen, has begun to take in the English boot and shop, and it is showing hospitality to head-master, haberdasher and week-end, but subaltern, civil servant, porridge, moor, draper, treacle, tram and mufti are still rather strangers in the United States, as bleachers, picayune, air-line, campus, chore, stogic and hoodoo are in England. A subaltern is a commissioned officer in the army, under the rank of captain. A civil servant is a public servant in the national civil service; if he is of high rank, he is usually called a permanent official.Porridge, moor, scullery, draper, treacle and tram, though unfamiliar, still need no explanation. Mufti means ordinary male clothing; an army officer out of uniform (American: in cits, or in citizens clothes) is said to be in mufti. To this officer a sack-suit or business-suit is a lounge-suit. He carries his clothes in a box. He does not miss a train; he loses it. He does not ask for a round-trip ticket, but for a return ticket. If he proposes to go to the theatre
Note 8. However, the street-cleaner is beginning to appear in some of the English cities. He is commonly employed by the Urban Sanitary Authority, and so the letters U.S.A. appear upon his carta shock to visiting Americans. The old-time crossing-sweeper was a free lance. He had his pitch at a crossing, and kept it clean; his income came from the free-will offerings of passers-by. As the English cities grow cleaner and official street-cleaning departments are set up he tends to disappear. [back]