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British Slang

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

  1. Rinzei

    Rinzei Troubadour

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    Yes, that's it exactly! Difficult to try and explain that mannerism. There is almost a national tendency for politeness with opinions so as to not to offend anyone, even with mundane things like saying how good a restaurant was or not.
     
  2. Gecks

    Gecks Scribe

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    Yes, I don't know why we as a nation feel the need to agree on pointless opinions such as how good a meal was, but for some reason it's awkward to admit to enjoying it if someone else didn't or vice versa.

    Actually, I used 'quite' about 2 hours ago without thinking and immediately thought of this thread. There was an amount of cake left that could either be one very large, or 2 very small pieces. I said:
    "It's not a that much, I mean it's not really a very big piece, it's quite big"

    Also here's a fun phrase... I asked my American mother (who has lived here in England for over 20 years now though) if she could think of any phrases said here and not in the states. I didn't realise this one is not common in American apparently(?)

    "Bob's your uncle" which sort of means.. well, I know exactly what it means but it's hard to explain! It's sort of like "and there you go"

    eg. "To make this cake you just mix all the ingredients, put it in the oven, and bob's your uncle"

    I would say it's not said especially often, but it's definitely well known (that is, everyone would understand it), and it is current and not old fashioned. It's a VERY familiar phrase, though not especially used constantly or anything, if that makes sense. No one would find it odd if it was used in daily conversation.

    Wikipedia reckons, "Typically, someone says it to conclude a set of simple instructions" which sounds about right to me... but it can be used in a few other ways... it sort of means 'everything is all right'

    Also, "take the mick" / "take the mickey" is extremely common. It means the same as "take the piss". In other words "to make fun of"

    "Stop taking the mick/mickey/piss" = "stop making fun of me". You can also say "take the mick[ey] out of me"

    By the way, mickey comes from cockney rhyming slang. Take the mickey is the rhyming slang for "take the piss" (mickey bliss - piss).

    Both take the mick and take the piss are extremely common terms.

    ...

    Oh! here's another one from cockney rhyming slang! Its origin is very much not really known and the word is "berk".

    You can say "you silly berk" or whatever and it's kind of like saying "you idiot". This one is a bit more old fashioned. Most people would consider it not at all offensive... but of course a lot of people don't realise its origin.

    Berk from Berkeley hunt (which is a fox hound pack in the west of England). I'm sure it doesn't take much imagination to think up a very rude word that rhymes with 'hunt' and then you know what 'berk' is the cockney rhyming slang for!
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2013
  3. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    They probably wouldn't have much slang from the "streets" but they will have their own Cambridge slang and for Eton college too [the college publishes their own list].
    On a debatable point... Some one upper class from London going to university [for fun and not the education] is probably as likely to choose St Andrews or Edinburgh in Scotland and maybe York or Durham in the north of England and Oxford [even Exeter and Bath] in the South...
     
  4. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    Oh, thank you, Joe!
     
  5. Sia

    Sia Sage

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    Last edited: Jul 22, 2013
  6. Sia

    Sia Sage

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    Furthering on from the earlier comments on education, note that Hogwarts is a Secondary School and a College. O.w.L.s take the place of GCSEs (the old name being O-levels) and N.E.W.T.s being A-levels.
     
  7. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    some from our home (my husband is from Leicester):

    A "git" is a mild insult like "cur"
    we say pump instead of the f-word I hate. Another polite way is saying wind. Rather than being gassy, you might be windy, according to my mother-in-law
    a garage (pronounced GAER-adge) is a mechanic's shop
    Also, foetus is pronounced the same as in American, but the "t" is a harsh sound rather than the American preference for a soft "t" sound. Same as in the word "little". My husband pronounces the t, where mine's like a "d".
    food has all kinds of different meanings. chips are fries, crisps are chips, biscuits are what we call cookies, rolls are what we call biscuits. English Muffins are crumpets, salad is lettuce (as in, "I'd like a cheese and salad sandwich.") beans are a perfectly reasonable food for any meal at any time of day. We call them pork and beans here, very different from baked beans. custard is different, a specific thing, where we use it generically, pudding is dessert, not what we think of as pudding, jelly is what we call jello, and jam is jelly, without a stipulation for whether it has seeds or not, like here. if someone is fat, you might say, "He's like a big, wobbly, jelly."
    a bonnet is a car hood and the boot is the trunk. A car boot sale is a flea market.
    what we always called our "teapot" is called a kettle in England and is most certainly a different thing than a teapot.
    the bin or dustbin is the garbage, which is weird, because "garbage" is from the word "cabbage", a renaissance English word for the thing tailor's scraps ended up in and were thrown away.
    a bender isn't a drunken spree, it's a gay man. I don't know how derogatory it is, but in bottom, they refer to the bishop as "the bent vicar".
    My husband likes to say he's "cream crackered" rhyming slang for knackered, meaning tired. A knacker is a broke down car. The knacker's yard is the junkyard.

    I could really go on and on for a long time...

    I'd recommend watching British comedies. Many can be found on Netflix and Youtube. Only Fools and Horses was mentioned and is good for common speech and rhyming slang. Bottom is good for common speech and especially toilet humor related words and swearing. Inbetweeners is modern and deals with more toilet humor type speech, but is from teenagers' POV. Shameless is pretty versatile as far as content.

    I had to get used to: Me: "What time is it?" Him: "Half eight." I could never tell whether he meant half past eight or halfway to eight from seven? It took time to get used to that. Now, I use it in my novels because it makes so much more sense and I love it.

    I remember when we were newly married. I asked him whether he wanted some food item for supper. He answered, "I don't fancy that." I was like, "Excuse me? You don't what?" he wasn't trying to be posh or snooty.... My husband speaks a really understandable, middle-class accent, but he was raised in a terribly poor, ghetto neighborhood.

    So think about what your characters represent. Are they true to their region and roots? Are they striving to sound better than they are? More common than their posh upbringing? There's a lot that goes into and is extrapolated from an accent. Americans have no concept of it, but watching my husband enjoy a BBC show is sometimes like watching an animal inits natural habitat. He reacts and laughs at very different times than I do, and some of the jokes, I just am not equipped to get. He'll laugh at something, say, when anaccent is used in a particular way to imply something about the character that I completely can't understand. I mean, a British person can tell in like one sentence so much about a person by how they speak. Region, class, tons of stuff. We don't have anything like that in America. I men, yeah, we can recognize an accent as Boston or Texan, but it isn't clearly defined like it is in England. One Texan might have a drawl, terrible enunciation, and horrific grammar, but the guy standing next to him (also a native Texan), might have none of those things. There just isn't a similar example we can draw in the US, where, when you're in England, it's very noticeable (or when you watch the tv shows) that in one show/ region, people speak one way, and in another, it's VERY different.

    Mix and match with EXTREME caution.
     
  8. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

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    Most of the slang and ways of speaking mentioned here is also very heavily used in parts of Australia. It is in my circle, anyway. Half eight makes perfect sense to me!

    Though I've been to the US twice, before reading this, I honestly didn't realise just how different language was in America. I'm thinking: 'They don't say that in the US?' I know when I went there, especially rural America, they were both confused and amused by me.

    I think the problem with people who write about characters from different countries to their own is that they rely on stereotypical slang or old slang that really isn't used as often as it's made out to be. Because of this, it sounds unnatural or comical. There are ways to introduce the language subtly so that it isn't so stark, but noticeable enough so the reader understands where they are from. People don't use slang every second, either. You should be wary of websites that list slang. I can tell you that most of the 'Australian slang' I've seen online or in dictionaries is stuff I've never heard of, never said, and may be either old-fashioned or from a different part of Australia.

    Definitely watch British TV. Besides being educational, British TV is good fun and entertaining. Shouldn't be a chore ;)

    If you are quite concerned, give your manuscript to someone from there and see what he/she thinks of it. For example, I saw something written by a friend the other day. She was writing about an English character and he said 'candy'. It was so out of place it was easy to notice. Your reader can circle it. Another example that bothers me is a so-called Australian using the term 'shrimp'. Here we call them prawns.

    What's unforgivable is 'fanny' used incorrectly. Hehehe.

    I'd be interested to see a thread on Scottish slang for different areas there!
     
  9. Sia

    Sia Sage

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    While we're at it, note that the Weasley twins did complete Hogwarts - NEWTS are entirely optional, just needed for a lot of jobs. Since they have enough money to start up WWW, thanks to Harry's tri-wizard winnings, they don't really need NEWTS. I see this confusion coming up a lot in the form of 'Hagrid got his wand snapped because he was expelled and therefore didn't complete Hogwarts - why did the twins get to keep theirs despite leaving prior to finishing Hogwarts. The sixth and seventh years are completely optional.

    The answer is that the twins did complete what they needed to, they just became entrepreneurs straight out of school. Also, they left of their own free will. Hagrid was EXPELLED prior to completing Hogwarts.
     
  10. Sanctified

    Sanctified Minstrel

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    Check out David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, particularly the chapter, "The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish." Ignore the movie, it's terrible. The book is amazing. And it's hard to imagine anything could be more British than Cavendish's story.
     
  11. Sia

    Sia Sage

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    What's a pound key ('press the pound key') anyway?

    This is a pound symbol: £
     
  12. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    [On a phone keypad] they mean the "#". I'd call it a hash-tag but I have heard it called the pound-key.
    The only other pound I can think of is "lb" when talking about weight.
     
  13. Sia

    Sia Sage

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    Yep, on a phone keypad... the only time I heard it was on holiday in America, relatives got a call from an automated system ... and I was thinking 'What the feck is a pound key?' I was familiar with the 'lb' and 'oz' for weights though.
     
  14. Sia

    Sia Sage

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    Also, this might help:

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, we call your 'French Fries' chips. If you want the American version of chips from a Briton, ask if he has a pack of crisps. Altough, if you ask for French Fries, you might wind up with crisps since we have a brand of crisps called French Fries. Just because life wasn't confusing enough.

    The First floor in the American sense is the 'Ground Floor' in British English. (Basically, we count by the flights of stairs you need to climb to reach it, I don't know what you're doing.)

    And private and public and state school gets so horribly confusing that when discussing school with British and American English users present, it's probably best to just skip the terminology altogether and describe whether you paid or not and whatnot.
     
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  15. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    I know this thread is a covered in dust but I have to ask; do British and Australian folks say, "That's different TO that. " ?... I, and every American I can think of, say, "That's different FROM that."

    Just curious.
     
  16. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    I think it's the first floor most people enter... thus we call it the First floor. Either way seems local at first glance.
     
  17. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

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    I've heard people say both. I think it's one of those things that's less cultural and more just generally varied.
     
  18. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    I say both, but I'd probably write "different from"...
     
  19. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    Okay, this is directed to our Londoners, because my connection in the north of England has no idea. :D

    How often do you guys use the term "mate" to refer to your friends in conversation? Something like this -

    I think I've heard it used before, but I don't want to run the risk of having our British characters, all of whom come from London, sound Australian. Help!
     
  20. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

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    That example seems perfectly fine to me. Use of 'mate' is very common indeed, usually though I hear it used most often as part of set phrases such as 'cheers, mate' or 'you alright, mate?' Though, in a weird way, you're more likely to refer to someone as 'mate' if you don't know them very well, or literally just met them. You could thank a postman or a shopkeeper by going 'cheers, mate'. It basically acts as a general fill-in for someone's name.

    This is just what I notice anyway.
     
    A. E. Lowan likes this.
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