Events, Learning, People

Two nations divided by a common language: An evening with a difference at The English Café


What do the words have in common?  A know-it-all linguist might come up with a drawn-out response about the various boxes the words tick when one considers word class or parts of speech.  But the quickest answer, really, is that the first syllable of these words rhyme.

Well, in Standard British English, that is.  You won’t find “Loo-tenants” in the army – unless, perhaps, some insubordinate privates have been assigned lodgings in the toilet.  It’s pronounced left-tenant, OK?

If the orthographic conventions of British versus American English have you truly

Will we meet on 22 February or February 22? No matter: Translator Nick Quaintmere is looking forward to waxing lyrical about British versus American English

flummoxed or you’re just keen to learn about which words and sayings are primarily used where, there is no better way to spend an hour than by joining us at The English Café on Wednesday 22 February from 5-6 pm.  Nick Quaintmere of the FernUniversität International Office will give a presentation on the various lexical, syntactic and prosodic peculiarities of the varieties of English you will come across, depending on whether you cross the nearby Channel or the entire Atlantic.  And, of course whether your streaming binges tilt towards Casualty and Downton Abbey or Grey’s Anatomy and Arrested Development.

Our English Café guest speaker Nick Quaintmere is English through and through, though his accent betrays little.  No Mancunian twang.  No traces of Liverpudlian Scouse.  And not a word of catchy Cockney escapes his lips.  “I’ve lived in Germany longer than I ever lived in England, and before that, I moved around a lot because of my parents’ work.  Sure, I do fly back to England from time to time, but I have never picked up any of the regional accents.”

This is good news for students who wish to participate in the upcoming session, for Quaintmere speaks in a clear and unaffected manner.

This perhaps ought not to be surprising, considering how laid back and laugh-out-loud funny he can be.  “I grew up on Fawlty Towers, ‘Allo ‘Allo and Mind Your Language,” he explains, referring to three comedy series popular in the seventies and eighties.  “So, I suppose my silly sense of humour and eventual career path in language and intercultural communication were set in stone yonks ago.”

So, in addition to some laughs, Quaintmere will bring much linguistic know-how to the discussion since he is a professional translator.  He joined the FernUniversität’s International Office last year and serves as the in-house Translator and Editor for English-language projects and communications.  When he isn’t rendering long screeds of German into word perfect English, he joins colleague Daniel Löhlein in the online English Conversation Club where staff of the FernUniversität hone their language skills alongside their counterparts from the University of Jyväskylä (Finland) and the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Spain).

“Practice makes perfect,” says Quaintmere.  “There is currently no magical elixir to improve one’s fluency in English, so I do urge all FernUni students who want to improve their speaking skills to visit The English Café regularly.”

What better time to give it a go than the online meet-up on Wednesday 22 February from 17:00 to 18:00?  Alongside Quaintmere’s presentation on what distinguishes British and American varieties of English, you can ask questions, share your experiences and hear from other participants.

Click here to find out more about the services offered by the FernUniversität’s International Office, and don’t forget to head to our Zoom-based English Café on the appointed day and hour.


  1. Claudia Kusterer

    Hello Nick, thank you very much for the great presentation. Is it saved somewhere?
    Best regards,

  2. Comment by post author

    Prue Goredema

    It was a great presentation, indeed. I will be sure to send you the document.

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