Thursday, November 30, 2023

The Effervescent Debate About ‘Soft Drinks’ in the UK

In the UK, the effervescent debate about what to call carbonated drinks continues to bubble. While Americans can open a can of ‘soda’, the British have their own vocabulary for these fizzy drinks. Across the pond, the term ‘soda’ is often replaced by ‘soft drink’, ‘pop’ or the generic ‘coke’, regardless of the actual brand.

Regional Changes and Class Connotations

Different regions of the United Kingdom contribute to different terms being used. In Scotland, for example, a carbonated drink is often known as ‘ginger’, a term believed to come from ginger beer that was once sold in glass bottles. In the north of England, the term ‘pop’ is probably widespread, a word that imitates the sound of a cork being popped from a bottle. Meanwhile, ‘soft drink’ is a more widely understood term across the UK, which clearly describes the carbonation that defines these drinks.

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Class connotations also play a role in terminology. Historically, in Britain ‘sparkling water’ referred to carbonated water used as a mixer for alcoholic drinks, often associated with the upper and middle classes. Instead, working class people often use ‘pop’ or ‘soda’ when referring to sugary and flavored carbonated drinks.

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