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British Slang

Discussion in 'Research' started by Trick, Jul 16, 2013.

  1. Sia

    Sia Sage

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    Umm ... did we make Harry Potter unintentional getting crap past the radar?

    Yep, spelling. As a general rule, words ending in -or in American English end in -our in British English. American 'Fetus' is equivalent to British 'foetus'. Words ending in -ed in America may or may not end in -nt. Learned becomes learnt. Dreamed becomes Dreamt. Here.

    Also, no-one goes to a wedding in vests and pants - that's underwear.
     
  2. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    I knew the or/our one but not the foetus one; still pronounced fetus?

    Actually, dreamt is something I've seen a lot of and it is commonly pronounced that way, at least where I live. Learnt on the other hand might be considered a bit uneducated in America. Which is funny because it actually isn't.

    I laugh almost everytime someone on a british show says, "he's gone to the toilet." For whatever reason we avoid saying what people are actually doing in there. Bathroom, restroom... If you're not bathing or resting then it's a toiletroom, really.
     
  3. Sia

    Sia Sage

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    I don't know about the fetus/foetus pronounciation because I don't talk about them everyday. As for the toilet thing - it could be due to the bath = long shower = they're not really showering thing.

    Mmmm
     
  4. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    Although the kids could barely contain themselves in that video it was still somewhat eye opening. The English girl did a pretty good job, between laughs, with the American accent. His British accent was terrible.... and he didn't know who Charles Dickens was! The horror! Anyway, I think someone should do a video like this with some more reasonable attempts. Some of the things she said, and he had never heard, are very common in America, ie pins and needles. And she was right, Aluminum is the American spelling. Route (like root) is dialectal and it's said differently all over the states. A device to change channels is a remote; clicker comes from a particular old brand because it made that noise and it has unfortunately hung around even though it makes no sense nowadays.

    Thanks for all the input! I love learning about this.
     
  5. Gecks

    Gecks Scribe

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    Haha, I have never heard toiletroom! But anyway, when are say 'we' I assume you're referring to those who say 'restroom' or 'bathroom' instead of 'toilet'. However, 'toilet' came into use as a euphemism itself!

    Look up the etymology of toilet is you're super interested, but in short it very originally meant a bag for clothes, and later meant 'the act of dressing' and then later could refer to a dressing room. To do one's toilet could mean to go and smarten up really. To say you were going to the toilet initially would have been like the equiv of saying today, "I need to freshen up" or "I need to straighten my tie" (the latter is a real one I have heard as a euphemism for going to the toilet). Anyway, it eventually started to be used for referring to the thing itself, what we now mean when we say a toilet, and is no longer a euphemism... though not impolite to say.

    Back to british slang!

    If you want to go all out why not try some of these words...

    I say old chap/boy/fellow, it's an absolutely spiffing/topping day, wot! (note: I have never heard anyone say 'wot' in real life..) Why don't we pop outside for a spot of cricket! Crumbs! It looks like we're going to have a spot of bother with the weather! If it rains we may have to play rugger instead! Jolly good show! Lovely Jubbly! Then we can pop inside for a brew!

    (ps. I've totally mixed up a lot of different stuff in there that doesn't really go together but woo. And about 5 years ago, I went to Morocco where the locals people there would shout "Hello English! Lovely Jubbly!" at us in odd put-on English accents as we walked around... apparently this is what they consider English people to sound like)
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2013
  6. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    I think I knew that about the word toilet but it's probably been locked away in my brain's dusty corners too long. There are definitely some more colloquialisms I'll use and I'm keeping this thread in mind for getting them, so thank you.

    One thing you said is funny, someone pointed out earlier that a brew means tea. In the US it means beer so if it was the morning and someone said they were going to have a brew I'd think they were an alcoholic! Glad I won't make that mistake now.
     
  7. Gecks

    Gecks Scribe

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    I think it was me that said brew on this thread earlier as well. There are some important differences both sides should probably remember when visiting the neighbouring country I think!

    First, and I noticed you probably realised this by the way you asterisked it in your initial post, 'bloody' is considered a swear here, though I take it it's not in the US? (a few months ago, I got in quite a bit of trouble at work (fast food) for exclaiming 'the bloody thing keep spilling' or some such similar thing in a customer facing area). It's not as strong as the f-word, but is perhaps on par with 'shit'.

    Not a language one directly, but the v-sign (like the 2-finger peace sign, but with the back of the hand) is directly as rude as the middle finger f-you, and means the same thing.

    Oh! I thought of another british word for you!
    Cheers = thanks.
    eg. as you get off the bus, you can say 'cheers' to the driver, or if someone passes you something you say 'cheers'. it means exactly the same as 'thanks'. My brother used it while we were in the US and we got some odd looks. I would use 'cheers' or 'cheers mate' to someone I don't know.

    Another british way of saying thanks is "Ta" (my nanny always says "ta darling". Note also, 'nanny' or 'nan' is what we use for 'grandma' often in england, and I'm sure you know we say mum, not mom).

    Ta is a bit old fashioned, but cheers is extremely common.

    My american cousin claims we [and English people] say "quite good" and "quite nice" a lot. but note, this means "it's ok.." and definitely doesn't = very good/nice.

    Blimey, I'll stop posting here now! (I'm sorry, I studied linguistics when I was at uni and so I can't keep off anything discussing languages or language variations. . . Sadly, I've actually forgotten my whole degree so I don't have any particular insight on this to add from that)

    Edit. I also thought of some terms of affection/endearment for you!
    Love - not sure how common this is elsewhere, eg. in the states
    Duck - not that common anymore, at least not in my area of the country
    Cock - very common up north. My old housemate (from Blackpool) used to call everyone 'cock' "alright, cock?" she'd say. or "cocker". it's basically the same as calling someone 'love' and is not at all rude, though southerners find it a bit odd. My Spanish housemate asked me, "Why does [other housemate] keep calling me cock?!" during our first week living together.
    Hinny - a northern one
    Pet - a bit old fashioned I think
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2013
  8. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    Post anything you can! I'm happy to get more and more aquainted with the differences.

    No, bloody is not a swear word in the US. It just means covered in blood, so it's kinda gross if you're talking about meat or something. Pretty much everyone here knows about it though so if someone with a British accent says it, we get the meaning to a certain extent.

    We only say Cheers when we're drinking and we touch glasses, like for a toast at a wedding or whatever. Like Slainte for the Irish. If you said cheers without drinks people might take it to imply you're going to go have a drink or something similar.

    Some people call their Grandmas 'Nanna' but a nanny here is hired help to care for children, not a relative.
     
  9. Gecks

    Gecks Scribe

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    Haha! Ok, in which case I don't particularly have more vocab to add, but just some of this.. dribble.

    I don't know how to say... and it's probably obvious but.. this is all very different bits of 'slang' and various other colloquialisms from very different areas and class... areas. The type of person who might say 'spiffing' would certainly not use 'cock' as a term of endearment. The person who might say 'cock' would also probably call tea a 'brew' but would definitely not say something like 'keep your pecker up' or call someone a 'chap'

    Some of the terms or words I have posted are associated with a particular region. eg. 'cock' 'brew' and 'hinny' are all northern terms, probably used by the working class. 'cheers' as common all over. Some of the super cliched ones are very middle/upper classy and what we would call posh.

    If someone said eg, "It's a spiffing day, pet" or mixed terms in other ways like this, it would be totally ridiculous and unrealistic. It would be the equiv of randomly switching between an american southern drawl, then into a very new englandy accent and then slipping into AAVE (african american vernacular english) or something.

    So whatever terms you use, it's probably a plan to look up what it's from (area/class etc-wise) unless you already know the term...

    Because England is a lot older than, say, the US (only in terms of its English language usage and spread I mean), there is a lot more variation in accent and dialect (including vocab and grammar) without having to travel as far to get the change. Actually, I have some interesting notes on some grammatical features of the Norfolk dialect [my home county], though that's really perhaps a bit dry for this thread maybe.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2013
  10. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    When I was a kid [so we are in the 1970s] we had a family friend who was in his 80s then and had been in India [Staff Officer in the Army] for many years up to 1947. He had a wonderful and very specific English/Indian/Military vocabulary.
    He said "Wot" a lot - a sort of exclamation mark made vocal.
    He had "Tiffin" not tea for an afternoon meal or as elevenses.
    People that helped him or was a worker was a "something-wallah", I can remember he had a car-wallah [mechanic] and called his doctor "the quack-wallah". These terms are probably borderline or outright racist now but were very colourful.
    He was also the first person I knew to say "Pukka" [meaning good or right]
    He would use [a lot] "snafu" as a description of something not being right or to his liking - it was years later that I learnt that it meant "Situation Normal, All F**ked Up"
     
  11. Sia

    Sia Sage

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    Also, Britain covers: Wales, Scotland, England and part of Ireland thanks to the Catholic/Protestant thing they have going on. Not so much now but ... well, any time Ireland pops up on the news, we're still half-expecting some sort of conflict between those two groups.

    British Education


    Hmm let me educate you on education in England.

    In America, someone who has 'left school' is probably a university dropout who we're being polite about. In England, you talk about someone who has left school and people are picturing a 16 year old who's just graduated 'high school'. High school itself is referred to as either Upper School or Secondary School, depending on whether the county you grew up in uses a two-tier or three-tier system.


    We don't tend to talk about graduation unless we're referring to university. Maybe college if the person took a foundation degree. We don't make as big a deal about going on to the next school either. No primary school graduations for us! SATs are very very different to the American ones.

    American Sats are pre-college ones, right? Our Sats are something entirely different. The first SAT is at Key Stage 1 and we're testing 7 year olds who are in Yr 2. Then Key Stage 2 comes along and you test people again at about 11 in Year 6. They don't count for a lot but people make a big fuss about them because a)they're mock-mock gcses or seen that way and b)It's a holdover from the 11+ which streamed people into academic/non-academic paths. Then Key Stage 3 - Year 9 and people are 14 years old roughly.

    So an American without any SATs has completed highschool as their highest level of education. An English person without any Sats either has incredibly neglectful parents, is under 7, or else, was home educated/educated otherwise. Then there's the GCSEs.

    The GCSES are the biggies. This is what you're judged on when you leave school and have no experience yet.

    General Certificate of Secondary Education - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The closest equivalent to 'Higher' Americans have is probably 'AP'.

    The 'golden passport' for jobs/more education is generally 5 A*-C GCSEs, including Maths, Science and English and this is probably roughly equivalent to the highschool diploma.

    Still valuable but not nearly as much. The 'silver passport' (roughly equivalent to the American G.E.D) would be 5 A*-D Gcses, including English, Maths and Science.

    Anything below a D in English, Maths and Science (although technically a decent pass) practically counts as failing high school, even if you have a bajazillion A*s (the highest possible).

    Oh and we don't get A+s on report cards even at GCSE level. It's possible to have a good 'B' or a bad 'B' but you generally have to actually physically go up to the teacher and ask.
     
  12. Gecks

    Gecks Scribe

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    Furthermore on Sia's comment, 'college' does NOT mean university. If someone tells me they attend 'college' I assume they are either doing some sort of vocational course, or are perhaps doing their A levels, but no in a school. People attending college are generally 16-18 years old though not necessarily. eg. many young people I work with attend college part time and do various courses like NVQ in hospitality, or childcare, or whatever. However, a university can contain colleges... where the term means a different thing again.. uh..

    My area of the country got a little behind in upgrading the school systems and all the way through my schooling (I'm 23) we still called it first, middle, and high school. My old schools are referred to now as infant, junior, and secondary schools respectively.

    Everyone in every school does the same syllabus (to an extent, there are a few different exam boards). but generally everyone across the country in year 10 and 11 (age 14-16) will be sitting the same GCSE exam at exactly the same time, to prevent cheating. The same with the SATS in years 2(?), 6 and 9.

    Private schools don't often do the SATs but EVERYONE does GCSEs. Even homeschooled children need to take their GCSEs and can be entered as an external candidate. As Sia noted, many jobs will automatically disqualify you from applying without the correct GCSEs. (interestingly, the RAF [royal air force] had an automatic screening process and for a certain role, required a GCSE grade B in maths. A friend of mine was rejected based on not having this, despite having a [more current] grade B in A level maths which is the next level up... they wouldn't overlook his lack of GCSE though]

    "Public School" - this means private school. That's because it's open to the 'the paying public'. Bit odd, but if someone says they attend 'public school' it means they attend a private school!

    On a completely unrelated note, I can across the word 'bangs' for the first time when I was about 12 and reading a book by an american author. I had no idea what this was! We say 'fringe'.

    And the most OBVIOUS one of all... "football" means Association Football (often shortened to soc or soccer football or just soccer in the USA.). But saying football or 'footy' here on its own can only mean Association Football. If you mean American Football, you need to say "American Football" which is a bit of a novelty sport than no one really knows how to play...

    By the way, Rugby is also a football code, so don't be surprised if people say Rugby Football or say they're in a Rugby Football Club. Of course it's goverened by the RFU (rugby football union).. and there are 2 main types. Rugby Football Union and Rugby Football League. It's not a league like you might use the term - league and union are different types of games with different rules. League is popular up north while Union is the most popular overall, and on a world-scale. If you play touch, it's basically like playing touch league though.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2013
  13. Rinzei

    Rinzei Troubadour

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    I find it interesting you so it as two words - I've been living in Cheshire a few years and I've always heard if as one word, like "squiff". But yes - angled, crooked, not quite straight. "That painting on the wall looks a bit squiff/skew whiff," would mean it doesn't look straight.

    I don't think I've seen anyone else mention it somehow! The restroom can also be called "the loo". Such as going to, heading to, using, needi the, etc. And, yes, bathrooms will get you odd stares. Asking for "the toilets" usually gets you there though.

    I don't hear people saying the word "awesome" as much as I did in the States. The equivalent of "That's awesome!" may be something like "That's bloody brilliant!".

    The British native also tends to use the word "quite" rather than "very". For instance, Bill Bailey (British comedian) asked a woman at one of his gigs if she enjoyed swimming with dolphins: "It was quite good."

    A few spellings things - people have mentioned the u's - favourite, armour, colour. There are some Z's and C's that change to S's as well - recognise, apologise, realise, defense, offense (that last one is iffy).

    One last slang, and one my favourite's because it confuses EVERYONE back home - chuffed. I LOVE IT. I say it way too much, I think. Chuffed is "very pleased" about something. So, say you wrote a book and got a very favourable review, you might say "I'm dead chuffed with that!" Common words used with chuffed are "dead chuffed" and "well chuffed". I've seen an example that showed "rather chuffed" but have never heard anyone make chuffed sound so formal! Also "chuffed to bits".
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2013
  14. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    I have a question to toss out to our UK folks, but perhaps especially Gecks since you said you studied linguistics. We also have British characters, several actually, being introduced in our second book of our series. My question is: these characters are very upper class wizards, primarily from the London area and the young men (in their late 20's) all attended Eton College and Cambridge together. So, how much slang are they likely to realistically use?

    Also, an interesting notes. I find it fascinating that the term SNAFU was being used in the British military as far back as the 1940's. I am a US Navy brat, which means I was born and grew up while my father was active duty, and SNAFU was a term I became familiar with in the US military as well!

    Finally, American Football, to clarify, is basically Rugby played with 40 pounds of protective gear against 300 pound gorillas. ;)
     
  15. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    I couldn't agree more but that kind of talk could get someone in trouble if there are any leatherheads on Mythic Scribes.

    Trick: What are my options?

    Torturer: Death by a thousand cuts or watch several (American) football games back to back, with Madden as the sportscaster.

    Trick: I hope your knives are sharp and ready to go. Please hold the lemon juice.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2013
  16. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    *gasp* And you live in rural Idaho? Aren't you violating some sort of testosterone contract or something? ;) I love tossing the Rugby comment at the in-laws during Superbowl season - it tends to get me banished to the kitchen to make sammiches.
     
  17. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    Yes, but I'm from Seattle. I don't own a truck, ride dirtbikes or hunt either. I may be the sore thumb here but the endless fun I have observing the sports fan's natural habitat is like being in the wild. I feel like Dian Fossey.
     
  18. Gecks

    Gecks Scribe

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    "That's bloody brilliant" sounds a little bit put on to me.. I don't know how much awesome is used here compared to the states but I personally hear it all the bloody time. One of my managers at work will respond with "awesome!" to almost anything you say to her!

    Be wary of 'quite'! It's not really the same as very. If you say something was 'quite good' then it means 'well, it was ok' NOT 'it was very good'. It's either less than positive but they want to be polite, or means it was acceptably good (depends on the tone).

    Also, yes 'loo' for toilet.. I admit I didn't really think of it till you said it particularly cause it feels like such a 'normal' term to me it wouldn't spring to mind.

    As much as you like I reckon, but make sure it's not regional slang! Basically all the hilarious things that American actors say when pretending to be British.

    By the way, it might be notable at this point to talk about 'class' which is a little more complicated here, in terms of how we use the terms. In American I gather it is very simple in that upper class means rich. However, here:

    Upper class = noble or royalty. You MUST have a title (eg. lord/lady/duke) to be considered 'upper class'. Even if you have a billion pounds and live in the biggest house in britain, if you do not have a title you are not upper class
    Middle Class = this is what you are if you have loads of money. It is sometimes split into these:
    Upper middle class = super wealthy. Like millionaires etc
    Middle middle class and lower middle class = lines are not so clear cut but if you live in a detached house that you own (as opposed to rent) and have a professional job (as opposed to a service or labour job), and have university level education.. there's a good chance you're middle / lower middle class. It's a sort of mix of various things... uh...
    Working class = probably working in a service/labour job, or with benefits, education is most likely high school level etc.

    Bear in mind that apart from the distinct separation of Upper Class, the lines are not so clear. Someone may consider themselves one thing but be considered another by someone else. But be careful saying 'upper class' when you mean 'middle class'.

    (ps. another vocab I thought of while typing about money was 'quid' which is VERY commonly used for 'pound' as in our currency. It's like saying 'buck' for 'dollar' and is used all over).
     
    A. E. Lowan likes this.
  19. Rinzei

    Rinzei Troubadour

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    Fair enough - "bloody" might have pushed it a bit. But I hear "brilliant" more than "awesome" by far around here. I don't actually remember that last time I heard someone say awesome and it wasn't me (followed by coworkers giggling about how "american" I was).

    The 'quite' is always touchy to me - because, as you said, people do use at something being good, but not quite great. But it also feels sometimes that people use it to reduce magnitude out of politeness, like saying something was "very good" and someone else might disagree would be an offense. Does that make sense? I'm still learning the local ways (don't hurt me!).
     
  20. Gecks

    Gecks Scribe

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    Yes, I think I agree with this, if this is what you mean...

    Person A: The restaurant last night was very good!
    Person B: Yeah, it was quite good.

    Where person B actually didn't think it was all that good (though they didn't think it was awful), but it would be rude to disagree with Person A. So they use 'quite'.

    If person A said straight off "The restaurant last night was quite good" then they probably mean it was ok, but they're not gonna commit to saying it was great or anything. Anyone else is free to agree to varying degrees so it bypasses and potential awkwardness that would arise from having different opinions (which is rude :D)
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2013
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