• ‘You say potato.......’ ©

    ‘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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