British - English and our eccentricities!

@garymarsh6 (17894)
United Kingdom
May 3, 2019 3:58am CST
Following a post I made yesterday, there were times when I thought people did not quite understand what was going on and the spirit of the post. There were differences in the words which may have meant something different to other readers so I thought I would talk about some stuff that makes us slightly different to others and to try and stop any confusion. For example, the British sense of humour may seem to be completely barking mad as was evident in the post yesterday. We often use jokes, innuendo’s and other words and tease each other mercilessly which may seem very odd to others. We are not insulting each other but taking part in a repartee or bantering! Intro What is being British? Great Britain is also known as The United Kingdom is made up of four distinct and different countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each nation has their own language which then subdivides into regional and local dialects. The predominant language is British English as often Malu will point out she speaks British English and not American English. Regional accents. There are around 30 different regional accents in the UK and then local dialects within those different areas. Some words are meaningless to other people from outside that area. For example, Gilly hails from the North of England from the City of Liverpool whereas I hail from the South East of England from the Town of Dover. Roughly a 300-mile road trip which would take around 5 hours. However, Gilly has moved South and now lives around 30 miles away from me. Her accent is quite clearly different from mine. She has what is known as a Scouse accent whereas I have a Southern accent more akin to received pronounced (RP) English. We would have no difficulty understanding each other although I dare say Gilly could lose me with some of her local sayings. My daughter, on the other hand, was brought up in Dartford around 10 miles from where we currently live. Her accent is definitely Estuary English which drives me crazy and I am constantly correcting her. I am sure often she does it to wind me up. For example, she will often not pronounce her ‘T’s when speaking so instead of saying Butter She will say butaa or instead of Water she will pronounce it warta with both with a silent T but sounds like ugh! Ugh indeed it makes me feel quite irritated when she speaks like this often ask her would that have a T in it somewhere??? Colloquialisms Local sayings and nuances Just some of the terms we might use English slang to describe money • A Quid = A pound or a Nicker • A Fiver= £5 • A Cockle £10 or a tenner • A Pony = £25 • A ton = £100 or a century • A Monkey =£500 • A Grand = £1000 Where difficulties lie are when we try to speak to someone from Scotland. Especially if someone is from Glasgow. The cable company Sky have their main call centre in Glasgow. You can imagine the fun talking to someone from Glasgow. Often I have to apologise and ask them if they could put an English speaker on as I honestly cannot understand half of what they say! The BBC usually have fairly clear speakers speaking RP English however there is a bizarre trend to have regional News readers who quite frankly do not pronounce in understandable English which I find irritating to say the least. Listening to news programmes from 20-30 years ago the English spoken was quite succinctly RP or in other words similar to Queens English. Personally, I much prefer to listen to this on the news. Language evolves all the time. Some words and phrases we use go out of fashion and it is hilarious when you have to explain the meaning of words that we might have used many years ago. Unfortunately, Americanism’s have crept into the English language over the years. For example ‘we was’….. Sorry no you were’nt It should be ‘we were’. Another example on the weekend. No, it is at the weekend. Sometimes when I read stuff on the internet I can tell immediately that the person who has written a piece is not a native English speaker. On a recent cruise to Norway, the announcer on the ship was Italian. Guess what,no one could understand a word the man was saying apart from the odd word here and there. It became a standing joke among us. We would laugh and say he wants us to change platform and go to platform 9. So for those who speak English as a second or third language, you may think you are speaking English and you probably are but accents can lose the meanings completely and can cause misunderstanding and offence. I have to say here though. Most British people are lazy when it comes to learning another language. So hats off to anyone who does speak another language. As a piece of advice, I would highly recommend reading Malus posts. She has an excellent command of the English Language and can spot errors in spelling and grammar like a hawk! I promise you that you will learn a lot from her! Tomorrow I will write about the British sense of Humour!
38 people like this
40 responses
@jstory07 (79505)
• Roseburg, Oregon
3 May
Very interesting. In the USA we speak English.
7 people like this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
Yes, you speak American English some words are used in completely different ways for example Trunk we say Boot. Pants we call trousers. Pants for us are underwear although only for men Ladies underwear are called knickers! Sidewalk =Pavement. We can generally make ourselves understood though! You should never take offence if we say something you either misinterpret or vice versa. I don't think the majority of mylotters wish to cause offence.
6 people like this
@topffer (37932)
• France
3 May
But are you speaking "RP English"?
3 people like this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
@topffer Mostly verbally! Yes.
2 people like this
@LadyDuck (224906)
• Switzerland
3 May
Maluse has a perfect English, I envy her a lot. American and English (British) have many different words, but it's the way the language is spoken that is VERY different. I remember the first time I debarked in the United States and I had to ask some info, I was completely lost, saying that I was "confused" is not enough. It was the same when I heard for the first time Canadian French.
5 people like this
@MALUSE (51184)
• Germany
3 May
My English is not perfect. I wish it were. It should be correct as I've taught English at secondary grammar schools for 40 years. But it is rather bookish. I'm not so good at colloquial English. I have nobody near me to talk to. No, I have to correct myself. I have nobody near me I want to talk to. Our next door neighbour to the right is an American from Seattle. He came with the American Army. There used to be a helicopter base in our town. He taught at the High School there. The Army left but he stayed because he married a German woman, one of the stupidest specimen he could find. His greatest pleasure is to shovel snow at 6 am. How frustrated he must be! There was no snow last winter!
4 people like this
@LadyDuck (224906)
• Switzerland
3 May
@MALUSE Oh my goodness, poor man, he must be really frustrated, I feel sorry for him. I am not so good at colloquial too, because I also have nobody near me to talk to.
3 people like this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
@MALUSE A thought. My wife must dream in French because sometimes she talks in her sleep but in French. I wonder do you dream in English or German or has it never entered your thoughts?
3 people like this
@JohnRoberts (82602)
• Los Angeles, California
3 May
You need subtitles for those speaking broad Cockney! I though the Brits at least upper class were versed in French?
5 people like this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
I think you can guarantee that even I do not understand some of what they are talking about especially in the markets and they are in full swing., It is quite interesting to listen to them speaking. Well for a time in the middle ages in lower England the official court language was French. French was the official court language in Russia. Most children are taught a smattering of French in the UK as a second language followed by German and Spanish, Personally, I think Spanish would be more useful than German for Children to learn closely followed by Chinese.
3 people like this
@JohnRoberts (82602)
• Los Angeles, California
3 May
@garymarsh6 I think Spanish should be mandatory here in the US from an early age for all peoples just because that's reality. I have watched Scottish TV shows that could use subs. About money, how much are farthings? I guess you don't have pence anymore.
2 people like this
@Fleura (9693)
• United Kingdom
3 May
@JohnRoberts We do have pennies/pence, 100 pence in a pound (same as cents and dollars). But we no longer have half pennies (ha'pennies) or farthings, which were one quarter of a penny.
2 people like this
@Tampa_girl7 (30771)
• United States
3 May
Even in the United States it can sometimes be hard to understand someone. I live in Mississippi. I've been here for 32 years. I have to listen very carefully to some people. They have very thick accents and pronounce some words differently than I do and have a few extra words in their vocabulary that either have a different meaning then my understanding or I simply have no clue as to the word. I've lived in so many places that I think I've picked up a little of this and a little of that, but mostly I sound more northern is what I've been told.
5 people like this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
The Southern accent is much nicer than that from New York! OH my word how they speak is so rough and painful to the ears!
1 person likes this
@Tampa_girl7 (30771)
• United States
3 May
@garymarsh6 my baby sister’s husband has a New York accent. It’s a very unique sound. he’s actually from New Jersey, but from a town only 20 mins from NYC.
2 people like this
@GardenGerty (111959)
• United States
3 May
@Tampa_girl7 I think you have expressed what has crossed my mind. We have a few regional dialects here, as well. I grew up in Oklahoma, but for the most part did not have that Okie accent. However, when we lived in the San Diego area, if I became tired, an occasional y'all slipped through. I was often teased for it.
1 person likes this
@jaboUK (57582)
• United Kingdom
3 May
Very erudite Gary, well done. I have done a few posts over the years on British/American English and you're so right - they can be very different. It always seems odd to me that when you ask someone how they are they respond with "I'm good" . Also when they say "how fun" instead of "what fun" you know immediately that they are American. And what about the "could care less" when they actually mean they couldn't care less? I do love Americans (most of them anyway) and I suppose it's our differences that keeps things interesting.
5 people like this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
Yes could care less is a very odd one for me too. The differences are not just global there are significant differences within the UK itself!
3 people like this
@jaboUK (57582)
• United Kingdom
3 May
@garymarsh6 That's very true.
2 people like this
@Shiva49 (15675)
• Singapore
4 May
@jaboUK It makes me recall what Johnny Depp told after he had an awkward meeting with Charles, Prince Of Wales. “He came to the premiere of Finding Neverland, I shook his hand but I didn’t understand a word he said and I don’t think he understood a word I said so it wasn’t very meaningful necessarily, but he seemed nice!” siva
1 person likes this
@BelleStarr (45175)
• United States
3 May
Excellent article and of course my accent is New England while my grandma came from the Fens where many generations of my ancestors lived.
5 people like this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
OH yes I remember you mentioning the Fens. Up near Sandringham! You are practically Royal Liz
2 people like this
@BelleStarr (45175)
• United States
4 May
@garymarsh6 Practically lol.
@JudyEv (160587)
• Bunbury, Australia
3 May
What surprises me a bit about all the regional accents is that people never seem to lose them. Some Brits have been in Australia almost all their lives but they still retain their accents. We watched a film set in Glasgow once and ended up reading the subtitles. We thought that was pretty funny. Great post thanks.
5 people like this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
Yes they seem to have a certain accent but mixed with the Australian accent too! It is most bizarre!
1 person likes this
@MALUSE (51184)
• Germany
3 May
This Malu person must really be an interesting character!
5 people like this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
OH indeedy she is! I must be her number one fan!
2 people like this
@Janet357 (17120)
3 May
you are right with butaa and warta hahhaah. I dont like such accent. I still like american accent because i can easily understand them. Am just wondering if american can easily understand british. I love your post. Kinda entertaining. And you never fail to mention gilly.
4 people like this
@Gillygirl (31050)
• Sutton, England
3 May
He is my friend really but don't tell him I said so.
4 people like this
@Janet357 (17120)
3 May
@Gillygirl hahahhah i asked him if you two have met, he said, you did not meet.
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@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
Haha, you want entertaining. Wait until tomorrow when I talk about our sense of humour!
2 people like this
@MALUSE (51184)
• Germany
3 May
I learnt and taught this differently. The official definition is the following: Great Britain is an island that consists of three somewhat autonomous regions that include England, Scotland and Wales. The United Kingdom (commonly abbreviated UK) is a country that includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Its official name is United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
4 people like this
@MALUSE (51184)
• Germany
3 May
Officially, there are six German speaking countries in Europe: Germany - with more than 80 million speakers Austria - 8 million Switzerland - 4.6 million Belgium - 75.000 people Luxembourg - 390.000people Liechtenstein - 35,000 people You can imagine how much the language differs. I don't have to go abroad to be lost. There are regions in Germany where I don't understand a word when people open their mouths!
2 people like this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
You are correct Each of these are countries in their own right although Wales is actually a principality a little like Monaco
1 person likes this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
@MALUSE By that formula then perhaps the following languages should be official languages of the UK. 1.English, 2 Polish, 3. Punjabi 4.Urdu
1 person likes this
@Gillygirl (31050)
• Sutton, England
3 May
I'm please to see this post Gary as you have worded it better than I could have done. In Liverpool the pronunciation and words not commonly used in England really can cause confusion. I like 'geggin' as in nosey. I speak standard Queen's English and have done for many years. I have lived in a few places in the UK and the dialects are so different. Mine evolved due to moving so much. In Yorkshire we lived in a neighbourhood where there were many Southerners. They were employed by ICI. A big steel company in it's day. Moving South was not too bad as I had become accustomed too Southern ways. My four year old grandson has picked up some dialect from school and has started to drop his t's so my daughter reminds him to say water correctly. Sorry for the long winded response. Have to dash as going to the not so sunny seaside.
4 people like this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
Oh lovely have a lovely day and don't forget the fish and chips!
1 person likes this
• United Kingdom
3 May
Similarly, my other half has a weird accent because of moving around so much. A non-Midlander might be able to tell he's from somewhere around Middle Earth but he does have odd things that give away his origin, some things that give away the fact he spent some time living in the US, and other bits and bobs that he picked up from various places. He is from the Midlands (Warwickshire) but went to school in Shrewsbury (border of England and Wales), had his children in Hastings (South East coast), and travelled the world firstly with the Army and then for other personal and work reasons. I'm now having to remind him that we have aeroplanes, not airplanes, and that there is only one 'u' in nuclear (even though it's been decades since he left America)!
2 people like this
@Fleura (9693)
• United Kingdom
3 May
@pumpkinjam Not to mention 'aluminium'!
2 people like this
@pumpkinjam (6448)
• United Kingdom
3 May
I am from the middle of England so, obviously, I speak with the correct pronunciation as opposed to Gilly's Scouse and your posh accents! :P I was going to correct you on not knowing that Great Britain and United Kingdom are, in fact, slightly different but I see that Malu has already beaten me to it. Like Malu, I can spot a spelling or grammatical error from a mile off (or approximately 1.6 kilometres, if you prefer). Around here, as long as I can read and understand, I tend not to mention it unless it's requested. You can tell the origin of an English person by the name they give to a rounded piece of bread - I expect you would call it a roll (which is, of course, completely wrong because if I ask for a sausage roll, I expect pastry, not bread). Although my son is at university near Liverpool, I'm not actually sure which word they use up there! Is it muffin in Manchester? That, of course, is also a bit silly because a muffin is a cake. Where I come from, it's called a batch (although some nearby towns say 'cob' or 'bun') Speaking of the son, I told him that I'd disown him if he returned home with a Scouse accent. :P I had a French teacher at school. He was actually French but from Normandy. He said that his accent was equivalent of a Geordie teaching English.
3 people like this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
Haha, I can top that. One of my French teachers was Welsh so you can imagine the pronunciations from him. If we dared mimic him it used to result in a blackboard rubber to the head and trust me he was a good shot! We had no option but to learn the correct pronunciation. Can you imagine that happening these days what with Childline, Social services involvement oh lord above! Gilly would be so proud of your son picking up Scouse!
2 people like this
• United Kingdom
3 May
@garymarsh6 I haven't disowned son yet. He spends most of his time up there on campus, mingling with people from different places. He even made a friend with an American through their mutual enjoyment of mocking the Scousers :D Ah, yes, I remember the blackboard rubbers. Do they even have them now? I never had one thrown at me but I did witness a few soaring across classrooms. We would certainly be in some trouble now if that happened.
3 people like this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
@pumpkinjam OH good on him Oh mark him down in Gilly's black book! I do not think they use blackboards let alone blackboard rubbers, I think they use these write on wipe off white boards these days! Oh boy, I can remember the sound of the chalk grating on the blackboard! EEK!
2 people like this
@bunnybon7 (40885)
• Holiday, Florida
3 May
when I don't understand something from a Brits post it is because of words meaning different things here. Like when I was talking with a guy from there a while back when I used to drink (way back) We was drinking at a party and he told me he was "pissed" here that means "mad about something". so I ask him what was making him mad? He said nothing was. but I said you just said you was pissed. He said oh, that means I am drunk. So see what I mean Gary? nappy there. here diaper. etc. etc.
3 people like this
@Fleura (9693)
• United Kingdom
3 May
Yes there was a children's book which was publicised here, supposed to be more inclusive or something, it was called 'Nappy hair'. Not sure what that means there.
1 person likes this
@bunnybon7 (40885)
• Holiday, Florida
3 May
@Fleura here it means fuzzy and uncontrolled I think.
1 person likes this
@Fleura (9693)
• United Kingdom
3 May
@bunnybon7 Oh good, I didn't think saying someone had 'diaper hair' was particularly friendly!
1 person likes this
@Sojourn (5351)
• India
3 May
Informative and interesting post. Happy that an Englishman here clearing up the doubts . One small thing that bothers me, that how did this wonderful name of football became soccer in American English. I hope you like football, btw.
3 people like this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
OH dear well surprisingly and sorry to disappoint but I hate football. Soccer is an American name. I also do not like cricket! Shock Horror. That is almost a sin thing to say to someone from India!
1 person likes this
@Sojourn (5351)
• India
4 May
@garymarsh6 Are there any specific reason for hating football or cricket?
1 person likes this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
4 May
@Sojourn OH yes trust me there is. When I was a kid around 8 years old my father took my brother and I to see a game in London. It was cold, raining and I could not see the match for the whole of the time we were there because of the giants standing around me. I was so small. This I think gave me my hatred of football. I prefer to play cricket than watch otherwise I just get too bored with it. Same goes with Tennis another boring thing to watch!
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (86326)
• Walnut Creek, California
3 May
I'm worth only 25 pounds?
3 people like this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
Gosh you reckon you are worth that much! I guess I am more a farthing man myself!
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (86326)
• Walnut Creek, California
3 May
@garymarsh6 Farthing...farthing...
1 person likes this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
@TheHorse A quarter of a penny!
1 person likes this
@florelway (6050)
• Cagayan De Oro, Philippines
3 May
Thanks for this post, very informative.
3 people like this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
Thank you I hope it is helpful!
2 people like this
@florelway (6050)
• Cagayan De Oro, Philippines
3 May
@garymarsh6 yes definitely.
2 people like this
@rakski (32208)
• Philippines
3 May
Some words are pronounced differently and some I think mean differently. I noticed that.
3 people like this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
OH yes you are correct there!
2 people like this
@rakski (32208)
• Philippines
3 May
• Pamplona, Spain
3 May
One of my Sister-in Laws is from London a true Cockney and she loves me to imitate her accent with respect of course. She just used to laugh and say do that again you do that so very well and also a Girl I used to work with was in fits of laughter at my London accent imitation. She would also say go on do that again love it. I love the Welsh accent and coming from where we come from they have had their influence on the way we speak as well alright boyo ow yer doin much the same as the Wolverhampton "slang".
3 people like this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
I must say I am not very good with accents no matter how hard I try and yet a friend of mine is so talented and can take many accents off to a T.
2 people like this
• Pamplona, Spain
3 May
@garymarsh6 Its not something I do very often though just with people whom I really know.
1 person likes this
@simone10 (29616)
• United States
3 May
I have to admit that I was getting a little lost at first when I started reading your post. That's a lot of information to digest. Then as I read on, it was making more and more sense.
3 people like this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
Haha that is my mission in life to confuse! No seriously it just shows how easy it is to cause confusion to each other through the written word.
2 people like this
@simone10 (29616)
• United States
4 May
@garymarsh6 that very true and we are all speaking English
1 person likes this
@allknowing (83091)
• India
3 May
The simpler the way one expresses oneself the better it would be as myLot is made up of users from all over the globe. . There is also a rule here that does not permit pointing out errors of others.
3 people like this
@garymarsh6 (17894)
• United Kingdom
3 May
Yes and it is great to speak with people from all walks in life and from far-flung places to learn about their daily lives, sharing knowledge and skills with each other and helping people to learn from each other. You do and can learn something new every day on Mylot! You are correct there are rules about pointing out errors that does not mean to say that we should not help others who wish to improve their written English. What it should not permit is ridiculing the person which is totally unjustified and not in keeping with most peoples intentions.
2 people like this