Can You Spot the NOOBs?

The two publications I regularly read are the New York Times and the New Yorker. The latter has something of a reputation for Anglophilia (diminished somewhat since Tina Brown stepped down as editor) but in fact I tend to find more Britishisms in the Times.

However, I don’t think the Times has ever published three in one paragraph, as the New Yorker did in a January issue I just caught up with. The author is the Harvard historian Jill Lepore, and she’s writing about an intellectual-property dispute relating to two doll brands, Barbie and Bratz. Actually, Lepore has the three NOOBs in just two sentences! Can you spot them?

Carter Bryant was thirty-one and working at Mattel in August of 2000, designing clothes for Barbie, when he created Bratz, though he later said—and his legal defense turned on this claim—that he’d got the idea for the dolls while on a seven-month break from Mattel, two years earlier. He drew some sketches of clothes-obsessed, bratty-looking teen-agers—“The Girls with a Passion for Fashion!” he called them—and made a prototype by piecing together bits and bobs that he found in a trash bin at work and in his own collection at home: a doll head, a plastic body, and Ken boots.

Update: You could indeed spot them: he’d got, bits and bobs, and bin. As the links suggest, I’ve covered “he’d got” (Americans, except when writing for the New Yorker, universally say “gotten”) and “bin.” And as one commenter suggested, Lepore’s “trash bin” is a hybrid. I believe Brits would tend to say “rubbish bin” or just plain “bin,” with Americans preferring “trash can” or “waste-paper basket.” As for “bits and bobs,” I had always considered it one of those almost stereotypically British terms, like “telly” or “cheerio,” that would never be used by an American. Clearly, I was wrong, and I’ll take it up in my next post.

15 responses to “Can You Spot the NOOBs?

  1. …that he’d got the idea…” (rather than the American-preferred gotten)

    bits and bobs (rather than the American-preferred bits and pieces)

  2. It’s a shonda in The Times. Al Siegel used to call them creeping Britishisms. Now they’re kudzu. jb

    On Wed, Mar 21, 2018 at 1:49 PM Not One-Off Britishisms wrote:

    > Ben Yagoda posted: “The two publications I regularly read are the New York > Times and the New Yorker. The latter has something of a reputation for > Anglophilia (diminished somewhat since Tina Brown stepped down as editor) > but in fact I tend to find more Britishisms in the Time” >

  3. Bits, bobs, bin
    Love it!

  4. But a Brit wouldn’t use “trash” (or “garbage”) – it would be a “dustbin” or a “rubbish bin”.

  5. I always thought a ‘trash can’ or ‘garbage bin’ were what British people call a ‘dustbin’, and not an internal waste receptacle.

  6. Jamie Carpenter

    “he called them”. Do I get a prize?

  7. Pingback: “Bits and Bobs” | Not One-Off Britishisms

  8. I read the use of “bin” here as standard American (as in “parts bin”, “overhead bin”). A “bin” is a container for components or pieces of equipment that you find in warehouses and workshops. The fact that this particular bin was used for storing “trash” (which, in context, I interpret as meaning it contains multiple kinds of unsorted components that were once being used and are now available for reuse or disposal) has confused the issue.

  9. I got the got and the bits and bobs but not the bin with trash; I thought the third one might have been teen-agers as I wasn’t sure whether the US would use that or teens.
    Ben is right about usage of bins etc in US and UK, except that I would say we are also likely to use waste paper basket.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s