It's been said that Britain and America are two countries SeparatedByACommonLanguage. These days, that might truly be said of the entire anglosphere. Despite the homogenising effects of mass media, different English-speakers continue to speak English differently. Some of the differences are:

# '''Pronunciation:''' Does "caught" sound like "court" or "cot"?[[labelnote:*]]"Court" in England and Australia; "cot" in the United States and Canada.[[/labelnote]]
# '''Vocabulary:''' Are "chips" thin crunchy things you eat with dip, or long chewy things you eat with vinegar?[[labelnote:*]]The former in America; the latter in Britain; both in Australia.[[/labelnote]]
# '''Spelling:''' Can "storey", as in "floor", be spelled the same as "story", as in "tale"?[[labelnote:*]]Yes in the United States; no everywhere else.[[/labelnote]]

One of the consequences of this is that wordplay may not always work as well for one English-speaker as it does for another. Words that sound the same in London may sound very different in Bristol. Words that rhyme in England may not do so in Scotland. And a commonplace word in the United Kingdom may not even exist in the United States.

This page is for puns, rhymes, and other forms of wordplay that work in some varieties of a language, but not in others. These typically involve forms of English spoken in different countries, but may also be accounted for by regional or class differences within a country. Moreover, English is not the only language with diverse forms: Québécois sounds very different from Parisian French, and Spaniards do not speak Spanish the same way Mexicans do. In order to belong here, all that's necessary is for a play on words to be comprehensible to one group of people who speak a language, and incomprehensible (or, at least, less obvious), to another group of people who speak ''the same language''.

Thanks to books, movies, and jet planes, most of us have some idea of how English is spoken in different parts of the world. If you're looking for more information, check out [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_IPA this page]] for a concise break-down of the pronunciation differences between some of the major English accents. See also the AmericanAccents, AustralianAccent, UsefulNotes/BritishAccents, and CanadianAccents pages.

Examples are listed by country of origin.

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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

!!!British English

[[folder:Advertising]]
* Motoring organisation, the AA, launched a campaign for its breakdown rescue service with the tag-line ''Aask the AA''. Looked good in print with the reinforcing emphasis on the "AA" part. Spoken, it wasn't so sensational outside the South of England: the ad agency failed to take into account the fact that the word "ask" is spoken with a ''very'' short "a" OopNorth. To anywhere that didn't speak RP English, the ad campaign went down like a lead balloon.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Some of James Roberts' wordplay and puns in the comic ''ComicBook/TransformersMoreThanMeetsTheEye'' work better in his native English accent than in an American accent. For example, the Duobot twins are named Shock and Ore, which only becomes a pun if "ore" is pronounced the same as "awe."
* Some of the {{Punny Name}}s in the English translation of ''ComicBook/{{Asterix}}''. Most characters with '-a' names (Gaulish and Roman women, and Numidian men) are named actual words that end in '-a', but a few characters get plays off '-er' words that only work if you have a non-rhotic accent - for instance, Impedimenta (impedimenter) and Flaturtha (Flat-Earther). There are also some names that only work in London accents with dropped 'h's, like Sendervictorius & Appianglorius, and Mykingdomforanos. Another pun relied on the words "flawed" and "floored" being pronounced identically, which only works in non-rhotic accents.
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[[folder:Jokes]]
* Knock-knock, Who's there?, Adam, Adam who?, Adam holds water. Meaning 'a dam'. The name usually pronounced 'Ad-am', some people from the West-Midlands pronounce it 'A-dam'.
* The classic one that stumped Stephen Fry: [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqRkkVQ6OSE THE THIEVIN' BASTARDS]]
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[[folder:Literature]]
* In ''Literature/AliceInWonderland'', the Mock Turtle's line, "We called him 'Tortoise' because he taught us!" makes a lot more sense when said with an English accent than with an American one.
* In ''Literature/HarounAndTheSeaOfStories'', Haroun meets the "Plentimaw" fish, who have plenty of maws, i.e. mouths. This is a play on the saying "There are plenty more fish in the sea," but only works in non-rhotic varieties of English, where "maw" is a homophone for "more".
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'':
** Apparently "dark" and "clerk" rhyme in British English. American readers, however, will likely be baffled.
** In ''Discworld/EqualRites'', the Unseen Accademy refuses to accept female students, arguing that it would be "against the lore". "Lore" and "law" sound identical in RP.
* ''Franchise/WinnieThePooh'': It's far from obvious to many Americans that Eeyore was named after the sound a donkey makes (eee-aww = hee-haw).
* ''Franchise/HarryPotter'': [[{{Paparazzi}} Rita Skeeter]] is a lot more fun to say in non-rhotic varieties of English (in which the two words rhyme) than in rhotic accents (in which they don't).
** "Spello-tape" is a play on "Sellotape"[[labelnote:*]]short for "cellophane tape"[[/labelnote]], a [[BrandNameTakeover proprietary eponym]] popular in the U.K. and other countries, but ''not'' in North America, where the same product is generally referred to as "Scotch tape".
* This exchange from the Creator/PGWodehouse novel ''Literature/UneasyMoney'':
--> ". . . I wish I could remember his name. I had it about a dozen times tonight. It's something with a window in it."\\
"A window?" Nutty's brain was a little fatigued and he felt himself unequal to grasping this. "How do you mean, a window?"\\
"No, not a window--a door! I knew it was something about a house. I know now, his name's Lord Dawlish."
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[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''TheTwoRonnies''' [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cz2-ukrd2VQ Four Candles / Fork Handles sketch]].
* ''Series/TheVicarOfDibley'' provides a VisualPun in a game of charades that only works with certain British accents. [[DumbBlonde Alice]] is standing there with a pair of jars in her hands. The other players have worked out that it's a movie but give up. She says it's ''Jars'', which she says she's never seen but is about "these giant jars that attack people". The others realize she's talking about ''Film/{{Jaws}}'' and give a LamePunReaction
* ''Series/ArrestedDevelopment'' has a joke based around the idea that "The Gothic Castle" (an English-style pub) would be pronounced identically in a Cockney accent to "The Gothic Asshole" (a [[WhereEverybodyKnowsYourFlame gay bar]]).
* ''Series/TheITCrowd'': In one episode Jen is dating a man who is almost perfect except that his name is Peter File, which in British English sounds almost exactly like "paedophile." Moss even [[LampshadeHanging points out]] that the problem wouldn't exist if they were in America (where the first vowel is a short rather than long "e").
* The ''Series/DoctorWho'' serial "The Gunfighters" plays off "Doctor Holliday" and "the Doctor's holiday" in order to fuel some of the misunderstandings that power the plot. The British English use of the word 'holiday' means taking a trip somewhere, or time off. In American English, a 'holiday' refers to special dates like Christmas or New Year and time off would usually be called a 'vacation'. Possibly justified as the only British English speakers in the story are the Doctor and his companions, explaining why the Americans begin to assume the Doctor is Doc Holliday.
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[[folder:Music]]
* Robert Plant of of the British group Music/LedZeppelin was baffled when Americans failed to recognize the song "D'Yer Mak'er" as a reference to Jamaica.
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[[folder:Theatre]]
* If an American had sung "Do-Re-Mi" from ''Theatre/TheSoundOfMusic'', they might not have thought that "Fa" was such a long long way to run, but could have noted that "La" is something a lawyer practises.
** Unless the American was [[HahvahdYahdInMyCah Bostonian]], that is.
** But... [[RodgersAndHammerstein but an American wrote it]].
* The opening number of ''Music/JesusChristSuperstar'' rhymes "Fire" with "Messiah", which only works if you're EpicRocking. "FI-yah!"
* From ''Theatre/MyFairLady'':
** [[InvokedTrope Invoked]] in the song "Show Me", where one of the couplets ("Haven't your arms Hungered for mine?/Please don't explain, Show me!") only rhymes if Eliza briefly [[OohMeAccentsSlipping slips back into her Cockney accent]] (where "explain" is pronounced "expl'ine").
** Another curious example occurs in the song "The Street Where You Live", when Freddy sings the line, "People stop and stare, they don't bother me / For there's nowhere else on earth that I would rather be". The rhyme would completely fail in American English, where "rather" rhymes with "gather". Fortunately, Freddy is singing the Queen's English, in which "rather" rhymes with "father". They rhyme ''still'' fails in British English, because of the subtle distinction that Brits (and, indeed, most English speakers) make between the short "o" of "bother" and the long "a" of "father". However, most Americans make no such distinction: for them, "father" and "bother" are a perfect rhyming pair![[note]]This conflation, known as the "father-bother merger", is one of the distinguishing features of North American English.[[/note]] So the rhyme works -- but only if it's ''said'' by a Brit and ''heard'' by an American.
* [[JustForFun/TheZerothLawOfTropeExamples A lot of Shakespearean examples]] of GetTheeToANunnery are missed by modern readers due to shifts in pronunciation. For instance, there's these lines from ''Theatre/AsYouLikeIt'':
-->And so from hour to hour, we ripe, and ripe,\\
And then from hour to hour, we rot, and rot,\\
And thereby hangs a tale.
** The lines make a lot more sense if you know that in Shakespearean English, they would sound something like this:
-->And so from whore to whore, we rape, and rape,\\
And then from whore to whore, we rut, and rot,\\
And thereby hangs a tale/tail (meaning the penis).
** When Theatre/KingLear's Fool says "Sometimes I am whipped for holding my peace", this is a pun on how in 17th Century English "peace" sounded the same as "piss".
* In ThePiratesOfPenzance there is a rather lengthy joke in which different characters confuse the word "orphan" for the word "often." Needless to say, this doesn't come across in any accent besides very proper British English and even then is a stretch.

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[[folder:Western Animation]]
* This exchange from the ''Franchise/WallaceAndGromit'' film ''WesternAnimation/TheCurseOfTheWereRabbit'', which depends on the second character's very posh RP accent.
-->'''Wallace:''' [on phone] Just stay right where you are, Your Ladyship, and we'll be with you in an... ''(gets yanked upstairs)'' Aaahhh!\\
'''Lady Tottington:''' In an hour?[[labelnote:*]]pronounced "awr"[[/labelnote]] But I can't wait an hour.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Other]]
* Most Americans didn't get that ''WesternAnimation/ArthurChristmas'' was supposed to be a pun on "Father Christmas", partly because the words don't rhyme in American English, and partly because most Americans are used to saying "Santa Claus".
* The name of Shaun the Sheep is much funnier in the correct accent (Shorn the Sheep).
[[/folder]]

!!!Scottish English
[[folder:Jokes]]
* A wee boy goes into a cake shop and points in the window and says "Is that a cake or a meringue?" "No, you're right" says the baker "It's a cake."
* Q: What should you do if you find a trumpet growing in your garden? A: Root it oot.
* An American is in a pub in Scotland chatting to some of the locals and the topic of hunting comes up. The American boasts about having shot a moose, at which point the guy he's talking to looks at him like he's mad and says, "You shot a mouse? You don't shoot a mouse, you'd blast a hole in the floor." (variants include "You don't shoot a mouse, you stamp on a mouse" and "You don't shoot a mouse, you set a trap for a mouse.")
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!!!Irish English
[[folder:Jokes]]
* An Irish mother is teaching her son her recipe for bean soup. She tells him to add exactly 239 beans. He asks her why. "Because if you add just one more bean, it'll be too farty."
* An African-American guy is walking down the street and asks an Irish fella how much further he must go to get to O'Reilly's Pub. He answers "You're a block past it!". Cue one punch in the nose.
* [[http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4154/4947269570_88eca8fdae_z.jpg Whale oil beef hooked]] is either a random slew of words or a swearing Irishman.
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[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* [[http://vimeo.com/57374893 A sketch from]] ''Series/TheBennyHillShow'' lampoons Irish pronunciations and the confusion they may cause in Britain.
[[/folder]]

!!!North American English

[[folder:Film]]
* In ''Film/TheWizardOfOz'', the Cowardly Lion's assertion that Courage "puts the ''ape'' in ''ap''ricot" only works if you pronounce it "APE-ri-cot".
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Jokes]]
* The Realtor took the Southern Belle to see a house. Before they went inside he spoke at length about the many amenities the house had. He mentioned the central heating/air conditioning that had just been installed. He boasted about the professional quality kitchen. He went on about the huge closets, vaulted ceilings, and the built-in sauna and hot-tub. "Why," he said proudly, "This house hasn't a flaw!" "It hasn't a flaw?" The Belle drawled. "Well then what do y'all walk awn?"
* A Southern belle, having moved to a big city in the north, visits a stationary store and asks for some rotten pepper. The owner tells her that he doesn't carry that sort of thing and directs her to the nearest grocery store. She thanks him and is about to leave; but then he asks, "If you don't mind the question, why do you specifically want ''rotten'' pepper?" "To raght home on."
* "You know the thing about nacho cheese? It's not your cheese!"
** This doesn't stop endless Brits attempting this joke.
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[[folder:Literature]]
* An inverted example. In ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'' one of Sam's relatives is "Halfast Gamgee"[[labelnote:*]]The "cousin Hal" who saw a "Tree-man" walking on the northern moors[[/labelnote]]. American commentators suggested this was a pun drawing attention to the character being a little bit of a dolt to his Shire neighbours. British readers went "huh?" as they couldn't see it (Halfast = Half-assed) not realising we don't have quite the same pronunciation in British English, and nor would Creator/JRRTolkien.
* ''Literature/TheKillerAngels''. A union soldier asks an imprisoned confederate solider why they are fighting. The union soldiers are confused because the rebels say it's for their "rats" (rights).
* Creator/ShelSilverstein's poem "Fancy Dive" relies on the words "quarter" and "water" rhyming.
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[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''{{Series/Seinfeld}}'': Dolores rhyming with a part of the female anatomy, or anything else, depends on regional pronunciation.
* ''Series/TheDailyShow's'' [[http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-december-9-2009/the-most-immature-montage-ever---cash-for-caulkers Most Immature Montage Ever]] revolves around the fact that in American English, the word "caulk" (as in, the stuff you use to seal up cracks in your walls) sounds exactly like the word "cock" (as in... you know). The montage probably seems doubly immature in other Englsh-speaking countries, where "caulk" doesn't sound at all like "cock", and may, in fact, be a homophone for "cork".
* ''TheMuppetShow'' had an entire sketch centered around the guest star's thick southern accent.
-->'''Guest:''' What right do you have to be here?
-->'''Rolf:''' What rat? This rat ''(Produces rat)''.
-->'''Guest:''' Put up your hands!
-->'''Rolf:''' Put up my hens? Sure ''(Places a pair of chickens on the counter)''.
* ''{{QI}}'' has Stephen Fry jokily responding to Rich Hall talking about his aunt with "I didn't know you had an ant." Since in most dialects of British English "aunt" is pronounced to rhyme with "aren't", that particular American pronunciation sounds much closer to "ant" than anything else, even if they're pronounced slightly differently.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
* The last line in "The Alphabet Song" only rhymes if you pronounce Z "Zee", as the Americans do, instead of "Zed", as Canadians and most Europeans do.
** Some British children are taught, "W, X, Y, Zed, you see..." which will work with the closing lines.
* Music/JoannaNewsom has a song called '81 (referencing a year from a recent century), but when spoken in the song itself, the lyrics book says "A.D. 1". This pun only works in American English, since in British English, the D and T sounds would be completely distinct.
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[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* In one strip of ''ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes'', Calvin writes for a homework assignment that lords and vassals lived in a "futile" system, only for Hobbes to point out that it's spelled "feudal". This pun doesn't work in British English where "futile" is pronounced as "few-tile".

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* To a British person, the name of the game ''TabletopGame/{{Bananagrams}}'' sounds like a very strained pun on "anagrams", as the middle vowel of "banana" is lengthened.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/VeggieTales'':
** The episode entitled "The Grapes of Wrath" features a family of [[VisualPun very angry grapes]]. At the end of the episode, they decide to forswear their choleric ways and turn to academic pursuits, renaming themselves the Grapes of Math. The rhyme is a stretch in varieties of English where "wrath" rhymes with "cloth", and completely fails in the U.K. where the appropriate word is "maths".
** Another episode is called "The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's"[[labelnote:*]]As in "Ha-ha-ha!"[[/labelnote]]. "Ha's" and "Oz" rhyme in standard American English, but would make a queer pairing most everywhere else.
* A gag in ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' has Peter told that "mom" is on the phone, and eagerly mutters to himself "Please be SomersetMaugham!" The words only sound the same in some dialects of American English (those with the cot/caught merger); in the UK the joke is further obscured by the fact that "mom" is spelled/pronounced "mum", though EaglelandOsmosis makes up for that.
** Another one, where Lois suggests that Brian join up with PETA, which sounds exactly the same as the way she pronounces Peter's name in her thick New England accent. HilarityEnsues.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Other]]
* A classic American reclining chair, as seen in ''Series/{{Frasier}}'', loses some of its ring in Britain. "La-Z-Boy" only makes sense in american English. Over here it's "La Zed Boy. Weird name. What's it meant to mean, then?"
* In {{UsefulNotes/Boston}} saying you've misplaced your "cah-kees" either means you're walking around in your underwear or that you can't drive.[[note]]"car keys" when pronounced in a thick Boston accent sounds identical to "khakis"[[/note]]
* The fact that a long "a" or an "aw" turns into an "ar" on the end of certain words in some American dialects (mostly East Coast areas like New York and New England) wrecks several jokes that use this in wordplay. For instance, the fact that the "law" of "law enforcement" turns into a "lar" is used in a DropkickMurphys song for a rhyme.
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!!!New Zealand/Australian English
[[folder:Advertising]]
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPo7HTNja1M This supermarket advert]] for Wine and "Bear" Week. The jokes don't make much sense without New Zealand English's beer/bear/bare merger.
[[/folder]]
[[folder:Film]]
* In the audio commentary to ''Film/TheLordOfTheRings'', Creator/PeterJackson jokes that orcs should ''not'' be confused with people from UsefulNotes/{{Auckland}}. Cue head-scratching from North American viewers and groans from most others.
** New Zealanders (as well as Australians and the British) pronounce "Auckland" the same way North Americans pronounce "Oakland", so they were thinking of the city on UsefulNotes/SanFrancisco Bay rather than the one on Waitemata Harbour.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Jokes]]
* An Australian is travelling through New Zealand, and notices a farmer [[NationalStereotypes having sex with a sheep]]. He asks, "Shouldn't you be shearing that sheep?", to which the New Zealander replies, "Fuck off, I'm not sharing it with anyone!"
[[/folder]]

[[folder:LiveActionTV]]
* ''Series/SevenPeriodsWithMrGormsby'' offers a ''jargon''-dependent joke when Gormsby calls himself an "utter relief teacher". Since what New Zealanders call a "relief teacher" is a "substitute teacher" in North America and a "supply teacher" in Britain, the joke is lost.
* ''Series/FullHouse'': Stephanie and Michelle board an imminently departing airplane so Stephanie can flirt with a handsome young New Zealander. Since she thinks that the boy just told her that the plane is going to Oakland (across the bay from their San Francisco home), she is not particularly concerned about getting off before takeoff. Cue the flight attendant announcing that they're on a 14-hour flight to Auckland, New Zealand instead. The rest of the episode revolves round them getting back to the USA.
* Courtney Act from season 6 of ''RuPaulsDragRace'' is from Australia and admits that her PunnyName only really works in Australian English, where it sounds like "Caught in the act." To make the pun more obvious Ru introduces her using a fake Australian accent.
[[/folder]]

!!!Other
[[folder:Jokes]]
* Most [[UranusIsShowing "Uranus" jokes]] don't make much sense if you pronounce the word "YOU-ran-us" or "OOH-ran-oos".
* A joke that works best in a non-rhotic accent:
-->'''Q:''' What do you call a deer with no eyes.\\
'''A:''' No idea.[[note]]No-eye deer.[[/note]]
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kjbs9ytEj7c "Italian man went to Malta"]]. (He wants a fork. He wants a sheet. Etc., you get the principle. He gets thrown out of the hotel at the end.)
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* ''Literature/RobotsAndEmpire'' has one about accents of different planets:
-->"That is a non sequitur."\\
"A what?" She could make nothing of the last sound at all.\\
"It has no connection with my question." \\
"A non sequitur, you mean. You said 'a nonsense quitter'."\\
D.G. smiled. "Very well. Let's quit the nonsense."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
* Ukraine's 2007 EurovisionSongContest entry, "Dancing Lasha Tumbai", caused some controvery as 'Lasha Tumbai' sounds like saying 'Russia Goodbye' in a Ukranian accent.
** HarsherInHindsight, eh?
[[/folder]]

[[folder:VideoGames]]
* ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolidPeaceWalker'' contains a joke where the characters nickname Big Boss 'Vic Boss' (short for 'victory') due to him being TheAce. This works a lot better in the Japanese pronunciation of English loan words (where there is [[JapaneseRanguage no distinction between 'b' and 'v']]) than in the American English the characters are actually [[TranslationConvention supposed to be speaking]], making it come across in the English translation as bizarre.
** At one point in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3'', Big Boss howls "[[SayMyName Ocelot!!]]" at the character in question, in a way intended to be the exact same manner that [[GenerationXerox Snake]] in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2'' yelled "Liquid!!". Hideo Kojima points out in the director's commentary that it works so well because the names even rhyme (O-se-ro-'''to''', Ri-ku-i-'''do'''). In English, though...
[[/folder]]
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