I had a friend who started high school in America after moving from England. She made a mess on a test in a class, so asked the boy next to her if he had a rubber. He just stared back at her, very intrigued and confused.
I've since learned that the very first use of 'rubber' was of a device that could rub off pencil marks--even before the substance it was made of was called rubber. So I guess the native English speakers have that one right. I don't know how we Americans corrupted the word.
@Crusty: ..."Not up to snuff" meaning not good enough...
It's funny, but you learn these things by a sort of "osmosis" when living in a country -- so if I heard someone say this I would know exactly what they meant -- plus I probably would never even pause to ponder it's origin.
One problem for me living over here (in the USA) is that I don't know what they know -- I just asked Bob from the office next door and he says he is familiar with this one (which sort of surprised me, but there you are)
@dpetti: ...They also marvel that my family doesn't openly profess their love for each other on a regular basis while they can hardly go an hour without saying "I love you" to each other.
OMG -- I know how that goes -- my mom occasionally told me that she loved me -- and she might say she loved my dad at the end of a phone conversation -- I don't recall my dad ever telling me he loved me until he was on his death-bed, but I never ever thought about this -- I knew he loved me.
In the case of my wife's family, they tell each other how much they love each other so much that they can barely squeeze any other words into the conversation LOL
My understanding is actually closer to your "What the English Mean" column than the "What Others Understand". My wife and her mother who is from California have jointly determined that when I say something they cook is "okay" that means that I don't like it. And when I say something is "good" that means I really like it. I'm not sure if that is due to my being from a small midwestern town or due to my predominately German and English descent (though many generations removed). They also marvel that my family doesn't openly profess their love for each other on a regular basis while they can hardly go an hour without saying "I love you" to each other.
A company that I worked for in a previous life hired a bunch of Brits one year, probably because they would work for less $$ than their American equivalents. The company held an orientation meeting in the auditorium and one of the topics was desert survival. The speaker emphasized that the Arizona climate is very dry and one should always carry water, especially when engaging in outdoor activities such as hiking. For day-long hikes, a backpack was recommended to carry enough water and food for the day. The audience burst into laughter when told that for short hikes, a fanny pack would be sufficient.