British and Aussie Words Invading The U.S.

by The Copy Nazi Banned
53 replies
I've noticed that there are a few peculiar British and Australian words and expressions that seem to have crept into the American vernacular.

I first noticed it when Frank Kern says "No Worries". I thought maybe he'd picked that expression up Downunder.

Then I noticed other Americans saying things like "Good on you"..."Chat up"..."Mate" and wondered what was going on.

The answer is that "foreign" words/expressions are creeping into everyday American language.

Fair dinkum. (No - you haven't nicked that Australian one. Yet. It means "No kidding"..."for real"..."straight up")

Have a look - Not One-Off Britishisms | 'Ginger,' 'Bits,' 'Whinge,' and other U.K. expressions that have got popular in the U.S.

Why should this interest copywriters? Easy - chuck in a few "trendy" words and bring your dry copy to life.

Personally I use "No worries" quite a lot. Like this - "What if you buy Google Exterminator III and find it's not for you? No worries. We offer a No Stupid Questions Asked 60 Day Refund Period"
.

“No worries”

Posted on November 29, 2011 | 4 Comments
In last week’s run-up to Thanksgiving, I wrote a post for the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Lingua Franca blog about the proliferating ways of saying you’re welcome. I focused on the eminently annoying Not a problem! and No worries!, the latter of which has periodically been suggested as an NOOB.
I have always resisted. Not because it isn’t popular in the U.S.; indeed, it is nearly inescapable. Rather, because it’s not a Britishism but an Australianism. According to Wikipedia: “‘No worries’ was referred to as ‘the national motto’ of Australia in 1978, and in their 2006 work, Diving the World, Beth and Shaun Tierney call ‘no worries, mate’ the national motto of the country.“
But looking into the matter I see that the the phrase itself has deep British roots. The Times used it 463 times between 1785 and 1985–for example, in the 1970 headline NO WORRIES FOR CELTIC. The Aussie innovation–now picked up in the U.S., with a vengeance–may have been to isolate the two words as a response to thank you or I’m sorry.
Just noticed the word "wanker" is on the list. This old post of mine may interest you - WANKER Beer - where can I get my hands on one? | adland.tv
#aussie #british #invading #words
  • Profile picture of the author NickN
    Cool. I wonder what American words have crept into Aussie and Brit language. Perhaps "Get-R-Dun"?
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    • Profile picture of the author Ken Strong
      Originally Posted by NickN View Post

      Cool. I wonder what American words have crept into Aussie and Brit language.
      Oh, you know...timeless classics like "Fer sure, dude".... "Right on, dude"... "****in' A, dude"... and last but not least: "DUUUUUUUUUUUUUDE!"
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      • Profile picture of the author Mark Andrews
        Banned
        Originally Posted by Ken Strong View Post

        Oh, you know...timeless classics like "Fer sure, dude".... "Right on, dude"... "****in' A, dude"... and last but not least: "DUUUUUUUUUUUUUDE!"
        Errr no. Not British language anyway. You would hardly ever, ever hear anyone say 'dude' in this country. Period. In whatever context.


        Mark Andrews
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        • Profile picture of the author Rezbi
          Originally Posted by Mark Andrews View Post

          Errr no. Not British language anyway. You would hardly ever, ever hear anyone say 'dude' in this country. Period. In whatever context.


          Mark Andrews
          I disagree.

          I know tons of people who say 'dude'.

          And I'm one of them.
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          • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
            Banned
            Originally Posted by Rezbi View Post

            I disagree.

            I know tons of people who say 'dude'.

            And I'm one of them.
            After my first trip to the U.S. in the early Eighties (surfing California) I came back to Australia saying "Dude" this and "Dude" that. But the word hadn't caught on yet. It was deemed derogatory and earned me a punch-up outside a nightclub when I addressed an aquaintance with it. "I'm not a Dude"...biff...duck...counterbiff.

            Back then a "Dude" was more like a "beginner" - as in "Dude ranch".

            Sorry Dude...bit of a boring yarn.
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  • Profile picture of the author travlinguy
    Isn't "bite me" an Aussie expression too? It's one of my favorites. I'm surprised so many people consider it a bad thing.
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    • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
      Banned
      Originally Posted by travlinguy View Post

      Isn't "bite me" an Aussie expression too? It's one of my favorites. I'm surprised so many people consider it a bad thing.
      Nope. I always think of that as purely American. Came from the 90s movie "Clueless".
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  • It's because of the internet.

    The internet has resulted a level of meme transmission that just wouldn't have been possible before.

    You don't need a show on American TV to get a meme into American public consciousness anymore, all you need is a popular website or youtube channel or whatever.

    This goes beyond simple expressions.

    It also applies to fads and trends as well.

    Could you have imagines that "Gangnam Style" video making it to the U.S. before the internet?

    No way!

    As for language, though, it's natural that British slang would influence American slang because most Americans just don't learn second languages... The biggest outside influence on the country's language, then, would be a different dialect of the same language they already speak.
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  • Well there's a first; british words are 'trendy'?


    Thanks for the share Mal.
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  • Profile picture of the author CopyMonster
    You can probably blame it on Mick "Crocodile" Dundee, digger...

    "Another shrimp on the barbie mate?" (barbie as in barbeque not the doll - that would be a different picture altogether now wouldn't it?).
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    • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
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      Originally Posted by CopyMonster View Post

      You can probably blame it on Mick "Crocodile" Dundee, digger...

      "Another shrimp on the barbie mate?" (barbie as in barbeque not the doll - that would be a different picture altogether now wouldn't it?).
      Perhaps. But Aussies NEVER say "shrimp" - always "prawn". Which spawns expressions like "Don't come the raw prawn with me mate" (Stop your BS)
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      • Profile picture of the author Dietriffic
        Originally Posted by The Copy Nazi View Post

        Perhaps. But Aussies NEVER say "shrimp" - always "prawn". Which spawns expressions like "Don't come the raw prawn with me mate" (Stop your BS)
        True.

        However, in my experience it was more often 'snag' that was thrown on the barbie!!

        And Mark is right about British usage of the word 'dude'. Some say it, but it's a fairly rare Americanism. You're much more likely to hear 'mate'.

        In Northern Ireland you could hear 'mate', 'boss', or 'sham' in place of 'dude'. lol

        To finish on an Aussie one... she'll be apples!!
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  • Profile picture of the author NadiaChaudhry
    Language is always changing. Languages today were built from ancient languages. There is not real consistency.
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    Time to invent our own rules.
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  • Profile picture of the author burke1024
    Copy Nazi, first consider that the world is a mass of free flowing energy. The US has crept into the entire world, the entire world has crept into the US. We aren't separate, we are all interconnected! So it's no wonder you're seeing what you're seeing.
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  • Profile picture of the author alistair
    I take it "my bad" is American? That's one I can't stand. And a British one I can't stand is "fella".
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    • Profile picture of the author perryny
      Is it douchy for an American to use "mate", or sign off on emails with "cheers"?
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      • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
        Banned
        Originally Posted by perryny View Post

        Is it douchy for an American to use "mate", or sign off on emails with "cheers"?
        Nothing douchy or douchebag about it at all. I see "mate" used quite a lot.

        BTW I don't see "douchebag" used much in Britain/Australia.

        cheers

        M
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      • Profile picture of the author Rezbi
        Originally Posted by Ken_Caudill View Post

        Yeah, it is. It's as bad as using learnt.

        People ought to be kilt for that.
        Not sure what you mean here.

        Do you mean the Americans shouldn't use 'learnt', or that it's not an actual word?

        Learned and learnt - although the second one isn't used as much - both mean the same thing.

        I actually stopped using 'learnt' so as not to confuse people. But it is a legitimate word.
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        • Profile picture of the author Rezbi
          Originally Posted by Ken_Caudill View Post

          It sounds like you're from way up in the holler when used by an American. It's awkward and archaic. It's being revived with the mingling of American and British English. The OED states that the preferred form is learned in British English. It really grates in American usage.

          "I just learnt me a new way to talk, Clem."

          "Golleeee!"
          I see what you mean.
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      • Profile picture of the author AndrewCavanagh
        Originally Posted by perryny View Post

        Is it douchy for an American to use "mate", or sign off on emails with "cheers"?
        Cheers is not going to bother anyone.

        Mate is a different story.

        If you're an American and you start using the word "mate" it
        sounds like you're trying too hard or trying to impress us with
        your knowledge of our country.

        But we're really thinking you're not Australian so I'm not sure
        why you're using the word mate.

        It's better just to be yourself.


        On the other hand if you're talking to New Zealanders they LOVE
        it if you mention sheep a lot.

        Kindest regards,
        Andrew Cavanagh
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        • Profile picture of the author perryny
          Originally Posted by AndrewCavanagh View Post

          If you're an American and you start using the word "mate" it
          sounds like you're trying too hard or trying to impress us with
          your knowledge of our country.

          But we're really thinking you're not Australian so I'm not sure
          why you're using the word mate.
          That's what I was afraid of. Which is really too bad, cause I like saying it.
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    • Profile picture of the author Rezbi
      Originally Posted by alistair View Post

      I take it "my bad" is American? That's one I can't stand. And a British one I can't stand is "fella".
      All right, fella, keep your hat on.

      No need to get your knickers in a twist.

      Oh, you actually don't like the word 'fella'?

      Sorry, dude, my bad.
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  • Profile picture of the author deezn
    "No worries" has been around for decades in the US. If it originated from downunder it came over a long time ago.

    At least since Hakuna Matata
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    • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
      Banned
      Originally Posted by deeznuts View Post

      "No worries" has been around for decades in the US. If it originated from downunder it came over a long time ago.

      At least since Hakuna Matata
      Decades? Hardly. No worries - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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      • Profile picture of the author deezn
        Originally Posted by The Copy Nazi View Post

        Me and my buddies have been saying it since high school (Graduated in 1995). Of course we were a bunch of knuckleheads and we used a lot of slang growing up. I remember hearing it a lot after the Lion King came out.

        Even in your article, it says they've been using it since 2000. That's 12 years ago, that's more than one decade. So ... decades

        But seriously, I remember hearing it around the mid-90's and on. It didn't become mainstream until later, but it was clearly used among those who use slang earlier. Remember, we're the kids who said "Oh, my bad" instead of sorry. I even remember when kids were trying to replace My Bad with My Bust.

        Here is another article discussing it:
        http://books.google.com/books?id=mVc...merica&f=false

        Anyway I think I'm belaboring the point. Unimportant to the theme of the thread. I'll bow out now.
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  • Profile picture of the author tryinhere
    Saying Aussie is one thing, getting it into context , relation to correct timing / what its real meaning is may be another thing.

    Dude is probably not something that people throw around much / it is a term that can have a negative meaning, ? dude what are you doing ? / you idiot what are you doing.

    Americans have it more as buddy or good thing ?

    The term rooting in the us is far from the term rooting here in aus, in the states to cheer or support and here your getting laid / having a shag.
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  • Profile picture of the author TheRealDMH
    Ha,

    LOVE IT!

    Normally it's always US terms and slang invading Australian language, NOT the other way around.

    I think some of the slang terms mentioned above are great, and can add a different angle, but you would only be able to get away with the below with an Australian audience (if you haven't heard any of these before... ENJOY!):

    Bloody oath

    Meaning: that's the truth
    Example: Bloody oath it is.

    Bob's yer uncle

    Meaning: if you do this (whatever is said first) it will work or be all right.
    Example: Just add some extra water and Bob's yer uncle.

    Bonzer mate!

    Meaning: that's great friend.
    Example: That's bonzer mate. I'm happy for you.

    Pigs bum

    Meaning: that's wrong, or incorrect.
    Example: Pigs bum, you're not smarter than me.

    Play sillybuggers


    Meaning: messing around, wasting time.
    Example: Stop playing sillybuggers and finish your homework.And on and on it goes!


    I grabbed these from:
    Australian Slang and Translations
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  • Profile picture of the author FuNwiThChRiS
    As long as Americans don't start referring to money as "quid" ...I'll be OK. That is my least favorite word in existence!
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  • Profile picture of the author eugenedm
    British and Aussie words sound cool. For as long as we can understand each other, I think it doesn't matter if we're using British, American or Aussie words. After all, the world is becoming more global. Who knows in the future we might be communicating with just one language.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kristabelle
    Aussie's are taking over the world, don't you know. : 0 )

    @IFyouKNOWwhatYOU'REworth - just a few more additions to your great start!.

    Possum: ( also a marsupial in Australia )
    Meaning: Cute or little one
    Example: Oh, what is up little possum? ( usually said to children

    G'day Mate
    ( do I really need to say anything )

    Croc
    Meaning: A load of bullsh*t
    Example: What a load of Croc you didn't break that.
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    • Profile picture of the author TheRealDMH
      Originally Posted by Kristabelle View Post

      Aussie's are taking over the world, don't you know. : 0 )

      @IFyouKNOWwhatYOU'REworth - just a few more additions to your great start!.

      Possum: ( also a marsupial in Australia )
      Meaning: Cute or little one
      Example: Oh, what is up little possum? ( usually said to children

      G'day Mate
      ( do I really need to say anything )

      Croc
      Meaning: A load of bullsh*t
      Example: What a load of Croc you didn't break that.
      Bloody bonzer mate!

      Thanks Kristabelle, Australianisms always really make me laugh.

      Saw Dame Edna who naturally called everyone 'possums'... and then when getting gas on a holiday to Tassie (even I couldn't believe this one), "Thanks cobber!"

      Brilliant rarely do we get a chance to be bogans when it comes to IM!
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  • Profile picture of the author MarkWMS
    Putting in a few lively terms in your writings will surely put some life in it. However, as far as my knowledge about copywriting goes, articles for your client should have a more formal tone to it. However, bloggers will gain a lot out of this idea of introducing new terms in their work.
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  • Profile picture of the author zapseo
    The Times used it 463 times between 1785 and 1985-for example, in the 1970 headline NO WORRIES FOR CELTIC.

    That's the EVIDENCE ? 463 times in about 200 years ?

    Only to be backed up by that harbinger of TRUE FACTS, Wikipedia.

    I like Wikipedia as much as anyone else ... and I have benefitted greatly from it. (Although some of the BEST articles I've used have since disappeared from it... sigh.) But I'm not sure I would take it as the definitive word on the origins and derivation of slang.

    It's authority in some areas is quite impressive -- but when you get into more arcane subjects, "crowd sourcing" expertise seems to fall down. It's AWESOME as a springboard for research, though.

    Back to the term at hand, I actually heard "no worries" from a Canadian copywriter I was in a mentoring group with some years back -- and can't recall EVER hearing it from my long-time Aussie client. Although they occasionally come up with headlines I don't understand -- because they use Aussie slang ...
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  • Profile picture of the author wcroz99
    But I suppose when you think about it, the whole english language managed to find its way into America.
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  • Profile picture of the author Big Al
    I always thought "wicked" was an English thing.

    And it does stand out to me when I see an American finish their email with "cheers".

    But I quite like it because it means I can write how I speak and have to worry less about the English/American language differences.

    But then I guess that depends on the market you're in.
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    • Profile picture of the author Rezbi
      Originally Posted by Big Al View Post

      I always thought "wicked" was an English thing.

      And it does stand out to me when I see an American finish their email with "cheers".

      But I quite like it because it means I can write how I speak and have to worry less about the English/American language differences.

      But then I guess that depends on the market you're in.
      Wicked is an English thing.

      I used to say it a lot in the 1980s, when I was even more stupid than I am now.
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  • Here you go, you bumbling toffs--Americans are barmy over Britishisms:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/11/fa...itishisms.html
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  • Profile picture of the author seobro
    Hey, my favorite americanism is - pure awesomeness.
    Perhaps that will replace COOL even.

    OK as for Brits, they like to catch things as in:
    Catch a chill
    Catch a fright
    etc.
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  • Profile picture of the author nRehman
    "Processed Cheese" is called "American Cheese" in America, although it goes through same process line in Canada, Australia or UK.
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    • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
      Banned
      Originally Posted by nRehman View Post

      "Processed Cheese" is called "American Cheese" in America, although it goes through same process line in Canada, Australia or UK.
      We have a very popular Cheddar-style cheese Downunder called "COON". Owned by the American Kraft company now.


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  • Profile picture of the author Andrew Gould
    This just appeared on the BBC website:

    BBC News - 30 of your Britishisms used by Americans
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    Andrew Gould

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  • Profile picture of the author David Maschke
    Wow,

    If you heard a few American's saying those words, then it MUST be a nationwide trend.

    Very keen powers of observation and deductive reasoning.

    I can't imagine a better way of throwing off the flow of copy and putting speed bumps on the slippery slope. But hey, if it's written on a website, then who am I to argue?
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    • Profile picture of the author Tim Bazley
      I've noticed some Americans saying 'Autumn'. I've always thought this was British and that American version of the word was 'Fall'.

      Is this an example of British words creeping into the U.S. or are there regions there that have always used the same word as we do for this season?
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  • I like calling the bathroom the loo.

    But when it comes to phrases like "no worries," which I think isn't exclusively Aussie, BTW, it is about being down to earth. I like to keep it real. Be real.

    People respond well to casual.

    Look, I know you can care less about a lot of this mumbo jumbo, so let me cut to the chase.
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  • Profile picture of the author HCVNI
    I personally don't mind this flow of language that goes both ways, but there is one Americanism that really bugs me every time I hear it, and I hear it all the time now.

    Cupcakes. They're everywhere here (Northern Ireland). People start businesses up (well for a while anyway) making them and selling them.
    Why did these same people never start up a business making and selling buns?
    Oh, I know, buns aren't expensive enough, you can't charge £2 for a bun, but you can for a cupcake haha.

    I don't suppose it will work the other way, you wouldn't want to put a batch of buttocks in the oven in the USA I suppose

    One other thing (not getting at the poster above) but another one to come this way is "I could care less" which actually means the opposite of what people who are saying it usually mean. When I point this out to someone when they say it (and I do becuase I am a "saddo" (person with little else to do (not related to S&M))) they always thank me and buy me a cupcake. D'oh!
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    • Profile picture of the author Thomas
      Originally Posted by The Copy Nazi View Post

      Just noticed the word "wanker" is on the list.
      I seem to remember My. Burns calling U2 wankers in an episode of the Simpsons once. It sounded like the writers though it was a cute, almost affectionate insult.

      For what it's worth, Chief O'Brien shouted "Bollocks!" in an episode of Star Trek. He ad-libbed it; the producers didn't know what it meant, but thought it sounded like something an Irishman might say (it is), so they left it in.

      Originally Posted by Dietriffic View Post

      In Northern Ireland you could hear 'mate', 'boss', or 'sham' in place of 'dude'. lol
      I always get called "big man" north of the border; was never quite sure if I should take it as an insult or not.

      Originally Posted by HCVNI View Post

      Cupcakes. They're everywhere here (Northern Ireland). People start businesses up (well for a while anyway) making them and selling them.
      "No, we don't do buns, I'm afraid... we do have cupcakes though"

      I was told those exact words in Dublin a few years ago.
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  • Profile picture of the author FantaMan
    Ive noticed this as well, its about bloody time (-:
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    • Profile picture of the author jimbo13
      I remember being in Australia a few years ago and when I went into a shop, no joke, someone asked an assistant where the Manchester was.

      I thought that was an odd thing, perhaps there was a section of Manchester United Football Kits for some weird reason.

      I couldn't for the life of me think what it could be.

      So I followed the lady and it turned out to be bed sheets (from memory.)

      Dan
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      • Profile picture of the author perryny
        Bird (female) is one I wish we used here in the states. It's so much nicer than anything we use here.

        I also like the casual way the Irish use "love", where others might use mate, dude, bud, etc. "Would you mind grabbing that for me, love?"

        Fag (cigarette) you guys can keep.
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