On the trail of a caravan

It's hardly news that we Brits continually adopt American usage but last night the reporter in a TV crime documentary took it to new levels by telling us that a fugitive from justice "ran into a trailer park and hid under a caravan".

Maybe this was an attempt at (in)elegant variation - condemned in the first (1926) edition of Fowler's Modern English Usage as a weakness of "second-rate writers" and "young writers". But would it really have been so offensive to the ear had the reporter said the fugitive "ran into a caravan park and hid under a caravan"?

In any case, as he was speaking on a British programme, the reporter might have considered that while a "trailer" is a large and generally static caravan in the US, it has a different meaning on this side of the pond. UK eyebrows would elevate sharply at the suggestion that the athletic suspect "ran into a caravan park and hid under a trailer".

The contrasting status of a trailer park and a caravan park is a matter for sociologists and anthropologists rather than subs, but isn't it odd that trailer parks are seen (possibly unfairly) as downmarket places inhabited by what I believe our American cousins refer to as "trailer trash" while caravan parks are seen (possibly unfairly) as claustrophobic places inhabited by what we Brits refer to as "anally retentive neurotics".

Vive le difference! (or is that la?)

No comments: