Sunday, June 19, 2011

I Will Miss British: Language

To mark the end of my fourth-to-last Sunday in England, I am continuing my 'will miss' categories.  Today's is language. 

I will miss English accents.  I still think they are lovely, even though I have finally gotten used to them (see my comment here to remember how long even that took me).  I will also miss many words and phrases.  A few of my very favourites include:

Hiya!: Greeting.  Used instead of 'hi' or 'hello.'  Said to the tune of a descending major second - think the first two notes of 'Mary Had a Little Lamb'.  Beautifully sing-song and cheery.

You alright?:  Greeting.  Used instead of 'how are you?'.  Very confusing to Americans, who have a tendency to respond very defensively: 'Yeah, of course I'm alright.  Why wouldn't I be?  Do I look like I'm not?'

Mummy:  Title.  Used instead of 'mommy'.  I've already told David that our kids are going to have English accents.  There is nothing more adorable than a little boy or girl saying 'Mummy?'.  Like 'hiya', 'Mummy?' is always asked in a sing-song way.  Beautiful. 

Bit: Diminuative noun.  Example: 'It's a bit wet outside' or 'it's a bit sad'.  I use 'bit' all the time now.  I think it might last the re-Americanisation process. 

I can't be bothered:  Phrase of nonchalant disregard.  Example: 'I should have gone to the lecture, but I couldn't be bothered'.  Or: 'You don't have apologise.  I'm not bothered'.  Pessimistic as it is, this phrase summarises my attitude towards life far too often.  I'm sure it, too, will survive the re-Americanisation process.

Meant to: Verb.  Used instead of 'supposed to'.  Example: 'I was meant to go...'

Could do/Would do/Should do/Will do:  Verb ending.  Example: '- Are you going to work on your essay today?  - Yes, I should do'.  Or: 'Are you going to bed early tonight? - Normally I would do, but...'  Again, this extra 'do' sounds very strange to American ears, but it is something I am always delighted to hear and even find myself saying once in a while. 

Rubbish: Noun. Used instead of 'garbage'. Also an adjective, as in: 'That's a bit rubbish!' or 'That movie was rubbish'. 

Flat:  Noun.  Used instead of 'apartment'.  In the annuls of my memory, my first married home will always be 'our apartment' and my home here in England will always be 'my flat'. 

Half Three:  Time phrase.  Used instead of 'thirty'.  Example: 'The meeting is at half ten'. 

Car park: Noun.  Used instead of 'parking lot'. 

Hob: Noun.  Used instead of 'stove burner'. 

Motorway:  Noun.  Used instead of 'freeway'. 

Uni: Noun.  Short for 'university'.  For example, 'What did you study at uni?' or 'When I was at uni...'.

There are plenty of other nouns that I could list, but I don't think they could honestly be classified as my favourites.  I have chosen most of the phrases or words that I have picked up since I have been here.  Some of them I hope to appropriate permanently ;)

I have to also put in a small word in favour of British spellings.  This post was originally going to be titled 'I will miss British: Speech', but I broadened it to include written language as well.  During my second term, I decided to write my essay in complete British style and spellings.  I have been writing 'realise' and 'favourite' ever since.  I think there is something very elegant about the s-in-place-of-z and our-s instead of or-s.  I know I will need to switch as soon as I return home to the States, but I will always be a bit sad about it I think...

1 comment:

Ryan said...

I obviously picked up a lot when I was in Africa, but I also watch a lot of English Football, and the commentators just have such an effortless way of expressing themselves when they commentate. Examples:

American: He had a nice pass
English: He gave him a lovely ball

American: The players are angry at each other
English: Both teams look a bit chippy down there

American: The home team had a bad game
English: It was a poor outing for the home side.

Can't watch soccer without British commentators, it's just a crime.

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