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‘You say potato.......’ ©

By 4sdl, Feb 4 2013 01:34PM

‘You say potato.......’ ©


The late, great Winston Churchill once said that Great Britain and The United States are 2 countries divided by a common language (or words to that effect anyway!)

We decided to take a look at this observation in the trade show industry and have assembled a light hearted selection of commonly used words from each side of the pond with the possible misinterpretations to those unfamiliar with trans-Atlantic terminology

Booth – somewhere you sit to eat lunch in a 50’s diner

Stand – something to do when not sitting

Multigang – a powerstrip. Or a member of several youth groups

Powerstrip – a multigang. Or removal of clothing in an energetic style

Build and burn – Roman city development technique. Or a single use stand

Padding- what you put in cushions to make them soft in the UK. What you put under carpets to make them impossible to walk on in the US

Underlay – what you put under carpets in the UK

Cintra – possibly a little known Sicilian gang who are firm but flexible, bend easily under pressure and available in a choice of thicknesses and colours (tricolore not available)

Screwgun – a drill – inserts and removes screws – also able to make holes (so why limit it’s name to screw?)

Drill - a screwgun. Much broader possibilities for use

Dog kennel – what else, it’s a place where dogs sleep. Or, a small electrical connection box

Drayage – taking barrels of beer to a pub in England. The process of professionally destroying costly and fragile crates in the US

Drayage bill – a fantasy story made up from thin air and presented as Biblical truth

Drag and drop – computer term for moving data. Title of the Drayage Training manual

Electrical labour – non-existent in the UK. And usually non-existent in the US, especially when you want them. Unusual characteristic of being able to charge for not doing anything (and 50% of same on take out)

Tear down – break down

Break down – tear down

Take out – tear down (or a take away meal)

Rip out – a less sophisticated way of breaking down, often practised by low budget outfits

Build up – set up

Set up – build up

Shipping – means the same in the US and UK i.e. a mysterious process for the generation of multiple income streams while moving items from one place to another. Requires at least 15 different organisations to complete

Cord – what you use to pull curtains or tie your dressing gown. Or an electrical cable

Exhibit – something you would see in a museum. An exhibition stand

Design – something widely practised in Europe but little used in the US (ouch!)

Show floor – where dancers typically strut their stuff

Exhibit house – an exhibition design and build company

Art – sort of thing Picasso did. Not artwork

Artwork – ready to print file. Usually nothing like art

Vendor – someone selling something, usually not drugs (see supplier below)

Supplier – someone who gets drugs for you

Truck - a large van

Van - a small truck

Semi – a large truck. Or a small house joined to another

Wrench – a spanner – also a term applied to a highly emotional parting

Spanner – a wrench – also an affectionate term for people who live in Spain

Double stick – double sided tape – a man with 2 walking sticks

Brad – a thin metal pin good at holding things together. Also, an actor, also thin, not metal, no good at all at holding things together

Pole and drape – someone from Eastern Europe holding a curtain

Pole and panel – someone from Eastern Europe holding a panel

Particle board – something Steven Hawking was a member of at one time

Chipboard – particle board but with the right name

Bid – tender or pitch

Pitch – bid or tender

Tender – pitch or bid

Bid, pitch or tender – pointless process designed to use up surplus resources in a beauty parade where the winner is usually know in advance. Known by all to be a charade, companies will continue to throw resources at pitching (also bidding, tendering) in the forlorn hope of catching a buyer’s attention ‘for next time’

Straight time – the time when build up is not taking place

Overtime – the time when most build up happens

Double time – the time most often chosen by Organisers to start build up

Quotation – we still don’t really know so here’s some numbers (all subject to verification of course)

Estimate – we definitely don’t know the numbers so when you get the final, and surprising bill, we will remind you the whole thing was ‘just estimated’

Final account – we still don’t know the numbers. Sign it off or we’ll make it so confusing you’ll wish you had

Loading dock – where you get unloaded

Dock – where ships park

Convention – a set of generally understood guidelines and habits that keep society in equilibrium

Convention – a group of over excited, often young, executives with no guidelines or acceptable habits who help break up society while in town

Convention centre – place where you hold exhibitions

Exhibit hall – place where you hold conventions

110v – ‘electricity lite’. Designed to make you tingle all over

240v – grown up electricity. Designed to make you tingle all over – then kill you

Labour – political party, barely functioning, out of touch with reality, possibly socialist undertones

Build labour – barely functioning, out of touch with reality, possibly alcoholic undertones


Words – so many meanings and so much potential for confusion

If no-one ever said ‘choose your words wisely’, they should have!

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