Wet your whistle on these
October 17, 2012 2:37 AM   Subscribe

What ho, dearest cousins in the Western Colonies. You appear to be increasingly using the vernacular of the mother country. Splendid!

A few more examples to assist [1] [2] [3] [4]. Toodle pip.
posted by Wordshore (180 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also, a reminder that as you're refinding your fondness for the proper language, the offer stays open.
posted by Wordshore at 2:42 AM on October 17, 2012


Well, the people of Newport, RI, insist that "Thames" is pronounced with the "Th," that was how it was done in the 18th C, and the British have forgotten how to do it properly. No idea if that's correct, but, hey...

Some of these are kind of interesting as they exist only in sayings. Like knickers. I hear people say "don't get your knickers in a twist," but I have never heard anyone use the word to refer to women's underwear outside of the phrase. Also, Nadine from Seattle missed the point. People do say panties in that expression, but apparently they "bunch" rather than "twist." I suspect this has nothing to do with UK vs US undergarment design.

"When I was in New York and waiting with an American friend to get into a bar, I called it a queue. She told me that in the US it was called a line. However, she commented that 'queue' was becoming more common because of the use of the term 'printer queue' in computing."


Isn't it "on line?"
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:50 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


This post is utterly pants.

I keed, I keed!
posted by eriko at 2:51 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I prefer 'autumn' and 'queue' because their American equivalents 'fall' and 'line' are words overloaded with too many other meanings.
posted by vacapinta at 2:54 AM on October 17, 2012


Eponysterical, old bean!
posted by trip and a half at 2:55 AM on October 17, 2012


Speaking as a Canadian, my head just imploded.
posted by mannequito at 2:59 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm all for it, especially if we can encourage the damn kids to start saying "fancy" as a replacement for the hideous scourge of "like-like".
posted by Mizu at 3:00 AM on October 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


This being self-reported/crowdsourced/anecdotal I'm a little skeptical. For instance, cheeky is a word I suppose has been used more in the UK but always existed here. The term "flat" has had currency in certain urban environments, e.g. the two-flat or four-flat building, even if the word "apartment" is more universally known. I think some words like "row" have also had regional currency. The word "holiday" vs. "vacation" has had a class separation in the US. Aside from the handful of obvious affectations ("bloody", "gobsmacked", "mate"), I'll allow that certain words have been migrating into more common usage here ("frock", "kit") but largely because of net-universal jargon usage -- e.g. a bicyclist's kit meaning not their gear so much as their spandex outfit.

I cannot remember a time when the word "twit" was not used.
posted by dhartung at 3:05 AM on October 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


"Speaking as a Canadian, my head just imploded."

Eh?
posted by bardic at 3:06 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Linguist Lynne Murphy, an American who's lived in Britain for years, has discussed this rather nicely, with a roundup of links to some of the other mainstream media coverage of this "phenomenon".
posted by knile at 3:08 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sounds a bit twee, guv.
posted by Segundus at 3:08 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm glad the article mentioned Austin Powers because seriously try and remember just how many American asshole dudes walked around college/grad school campuses for a year saying stupid shit like "Do I make you ho-nee, baby?" and "Let's shag!"

At least, that was my nightmare.
posted by bardic at 3:10 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nice to see some of the sayings cross the pond :)
posted by TristanWood at 3:27 AM on October 17, 2012


We are also using her alphabet
posted by Renoroc at 3:28 AM on October 17, 2012


"Wonky" is the only one I know I've adopted myself because it is really sometimes the best possible word. When you've just had to reconnect six times, "sorry, my wireless is wonky" seems to do much better with denoting that it is an inexplicable and probably unfixable problem. "My wireless is unstable" implies I need a new router or maybe I have a configuration issue. Wonky implies that I need to go glower at it for awhile, give it a stern talking-to, unplug it until it says it's sorry, and then it'll probably be okay for awhile longer.

"Twit", according to dictionary.com, appears in an American slang dictionary, so I think that one might just be wrong about it being British. I'm also really not sure about whether "autumn" fits at all, and "proper" with their given definition isn't, but "proper" to mean "really good" or "really big" might be. I might refer to a proper breakfast as opposed to my usual entirely improper habit of, at best, eating dry cereal straight out of the box while reading RSS feeds, but I don't think I've ever referred to someone as a proper idiot.
posted by gracedissolved at 3:31 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Q. What do you call an ass with 3 legs?

A. A wonkey.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:34 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the article: I've never heard a Englishman say 'dude'

Dude, come off it. I say it all the time.

Some notable omissions:

Dodgy, adj. suspect, suspicious, unreliable (see also: sketchy)
Reckon, v. opine, conclude
posted by Acey at 3:36 AM on October 17, 2012


This sort of affectation drives me mental.

(Mainly because as a Brit in the Former Colony, people start using these words at me to be "funny," as if they're the first ones ever to think of doing it.)
posted by subbes at 3:49 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Looking more at the other lists, now... elbow grease? Not a Britishism. "Piece of cake" was ours first, I'm pretty sure. "Do it yourself"? Seriously? We have DIY, too. In a way, sort of interesting to see what people think is unique.

I'm pretty sure the Good Words list isn't English-as-in-England, it's English-as-in-the-shared-language, despite the page design. At least, I hope nobody thinks that Americans haven't heard of tying the knot, going on honeymoon, or doing spring cleaning.
posted by gracedissolved at 3:53 AM on October 17, 2012


Kit, n. A collection of personal effects or necessities. "I've noticed the adoption of the British term 'kit' for what athletes wear, in the place of what we Americans would generally call a 'uniform' or 'gear'

He's noticed wrong. The only way Americans use "kit" is together with the words "whole" and "caboodle." Or as something you assemble.
posted by three blind mice at 3:57 AM on October 17, 2012


I blame Red Dwarf, Doctor Who, The IT Crowd, Nathan Barley, Father Ted, et cetera.

I might well be using tons of britishisms and not realize it because it seems natural to me. I said "We haven't got" to a customer once and she lambasted me for using incorrect English. Not so.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:58 AM on October 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Swings and roundabouts innit
posted by Flashman at 4:04 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the article: I've never heard a Englishman say 'dude'

This person needs to watch more Peep Show.
posted by escabeche at 4:11 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Acey:
Reckon, v. opine, conclude
"

This one is very regional in the US. I'd suggest (reckon) that it's very strongly correlated with a heavy Southern/Texan accent and I heard it all the time growing up in Alabama.
posted by This Guy at 4:30 AM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Reckon is something I grew up as a twangy southern thing and so had stayed away from using it. I was SHOCKED to hear my British co-worker using it regularly.
posted by nile_red at 4:30 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


(ham) This Guy over here knows what I'm talking about. *nudge nudge* (/ham)
posted by nile_red at 4:32 AM on October 17, 2012


Swings and roundabouts innit

I think the confusion over the word 'roundabout' (and the difficulty in navigating one) is caused mostly by the fact that until quite recently, there were none in the US. According to Wikipedia, the first modern roundabout in the US was built only in 1990, so it's no wonder that people still can't tell a roundabout from a traffic circle.
posted by daniel_charms at 4:33 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Watching BBC has skewed my mental English, but I'm not confident enough to just come out with things like "swan off" for fear of it sounding like an obvious affectation.
posted by nile_red at 4:41 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Q. What do you call an ass with 3 legs?

That would be a wonky donkey shurely?
posted by aeshnid at 4:50 AM on October 17, 2012


@vacapinta "I prefer 'autumn' and 'queue' because their American equivalents 'fall' and 'line' are words overloaded with too many other meanings."

Eventually everyone will autumn into queue.
posted by EnterTheStory at 4:53 AM on October 17, 2012 [17 favorites]


The interesting thing about "innit" is how far its British use has stretched beyond the initial contraction of "isn't it". It's now used as a postscript to any statement where you're inviting the listener to agree with you.

For example:

"They always go on their holidays to Spain, innit?" (Innit = "don't they").
"I would have called him later, innit?" (Innit = "wouldn't I?")
"They've always got a choice, innit?" (Innit = "haven't they?"
posted by Paul Slade at 4:55 AM on October 17, 2012


Ali G: You wanna know 'ow I make diz country bettah? Iz simple, two words: keep it real!
Cabinet M.P.: That's three words!
Ali G: Don't be a spannah, it ain't a real word. It's short for innit, innit?

posted by daniel_charms at 4:58 AM on October 17, 2012


Interesting. (via kniles' link)

That has to be the first time I've seen a beer explicitly marketed on the basis that it lacks testicles.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:58 AM on October 17, 2012


No, No, No, No, No. Yes.
posted by drezdn at 5:04 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh yes, "Dude" is surely used over here.

Mostly in a semi-ironic way, by public schoolboys who have grown up to be social media strategists and now live in Dalston.
posted by LondonYank at 5:05 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'll cop to using "bloody" quite a lot. Especially "bloody hell". It's a great intensifier to use when "fucking" would be inappropriate.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:05 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


the orgin vector for the Beeb story appears to be the us-based language blog Not One-Off Britishisms.
posted by mwhybark at 5:06 AM on October 17, 2012


'Numpty'? Surely that's not a thing. It's just a mountweazel implanted to see who scrapes their content and reposts it elsewhere.
posted by steef at 5:07 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wonky is a Britishism? I (an American English speaker) said something was wonky to a coworker here in London the other day, and she said, 'Ha, hardly ever hear that word.' I think there may be more overlap.
posted by Partario at 5:08 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


For about 7 years I lived with some guys who were born in the US to British parents and lived for a significant time in each place. They spoke mostly-British English with American accents. I picked up some strange linguistic habits during those years, at least in part because I heard Britishisms spoken in the local accent so constantly.

(Note: nobody in the US understands "the dog's bollocks," although "the mutt's nuts" has a slightly higher success rate. Likewise, "bollocks" itself as a verb is only occasionally understood, although as an interjection it seems to go over just fine.)
posted by uncleozzy at 5:08 AM on October 17, 2012


I hear people using "bloody" in the US occasionally. It always sounds weird and forced.
posted by ghharr at 5:13 AM on October 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Fall for autumn was the word used in Britain 500 or so years ago and the Pilgrim Fathers took it with them when they headed across the Atlantic where it's still used today. On the British side it then fell out of use and autumn took over.

If it hasn't been mentioned already, Bill Bryson's Mother Tongue is a great read on the differences between US and UK English.
posted by jontyjago at 5:23 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


We are also using her alphabet

Reperies, credo Romanis litteris utimur.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:25 AM on October 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


We are also using her alphabet

Nope, Zed's dead baby, Zed's dead.....
posted by guy72277 at 5:29 AM on October 17, 2012


nobody in the US understands "the dog's bollocks"....

I'd actually love an explanation as to why this is considered to be a good thing. Because dog balls aren't something I've considered getting all happy about.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:32 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


This trend is naff and needs to sod off.
posted by Egg Shen at 5:40 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


nobody in the US understands "the dog's bollocks"....

I'd actually love an explanation as to why this is considered to be a good thing. Because dog balls aren't something I've considered getting all happy about.


Nor are kipper's tits....

For the phrase "it's the dog's bollocks", I've always found it strange that if you remove "the dog's" and just say "it's bollocks", it means totally the opposite.... Blighty's post-Norman tongue is bizarre.
posted by guy72277 at 5:42 AM on October 17, 2012


My personal favourite is the increasing uptake of the phrase "can't be arsed", not (for some reason) mentioned here.
posted by Grangousier at 5:43 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


My wife and I spent the summer/autumn watching a bunch of Brit-Coms off Netflix and Amazon. I was just telling her last night that I was going to start using innit.
posted by drezdn at 5:44 AM on October 17, 2012


I'd actually love an explanation as to why this is considered to be a good thing. Because dog balls aren't something I've considered getting all happy about.

Because the dogs bollocks are clearly The Best Thing Ever. Why else would they spend so much time licking them?
posted by rubyrudy at 5:46 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


How to not give a fuck

Don't be arsed.
posted by Segundus at 5:46 AM on October 17, 2012


How about the construction, "It's all a bit [fill in the blank], innit?"
posted by uncleozzy at 5:47 AM on October 17, 2012


I have trouble separating bc my SO is British-Canadian and I've lived in the UK - brought back "flat" and "trousers" but already had "bloody" thanks to Spike on Buffy. But my decidedly Canadian-only family has never used "butt", only "bum". "Butt" is a word for rude teenagers, "bum" for children and parents.
posted by jb at 5:48 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Such colourful language.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:55 AM on October 17, 2012


My BFF is American but spent her formative years in London. She is the only American I know who can use Britishisms without it sounding terribly affected.

An ex regularly used "shag". Made me feel like I was sleeping with Austin bloody Powers.

Are autumn and bum Britishisms? I think they are just English...
posted by peacrow at 5:58 AM on October 17, 2012


(Mainly because as a Brit in the Former Colony, people start using these words at me to be "funny," as if they're the first ones ever to think of doing it.)

Considering how sympathizers with the Crown used to be treated, I'd count my blessings. Of course, the American sense of Humor has progressed somewhat from the late 18th C. (I say somewhat.)
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:06 AM on October 17, 2012


daniel_charms: I think the confusion over the word 'roundabout' (and the difficulty in navigating one) is caused mostly by the fact that until quite recently, there were none in the US.

In that expression, "roundabouts" is referring to fairground merry-go-rounds, not circular intersections.
posted by gilrain at 6:13 AM on October 17, 2012


I blame PBS and Netflix.

Sorry.
posted by tommasz at 6:14 AM on October 17, 2012


Easy bruv
posted by Damienmce at 6:16 AM on October 17, 2012


Growing up in Detroit in the 60s and 70s, everyone commonly used "flat" to describe a unit within a multi-family house. The most common usage was "two-family flat" which is what I would now call a "duplex." There could also be "four-family flats." However, the use of "flats" seemed to only refer to a low number of units within what appeared to be traditional-looking houses. Units within an obvious apartment building were always called apartments.
posted by The Deej at 6:19 AM on October 17, 2012


My mother (an editor) has been noting this for years, and has her own personal list. Some of them are far more subtle than this - including the phrase in which we say someone or something 'went missing,' which wasn't American usage until fairly recently. Another is "a coffee," as in "let's go get a coffee," which replaced the American "let's go get a cup of coffee" starting in the mid-90s.

I blame the internet. We exchanged TV programs before it came along, but it was always really affected to borrow Anglicisms from TV shows (it showed you watched PBS and considered yourself a sort of 'alternative.') But with the internet, we can all just read anything Anglophone, and we all come across a lot more English written content that didn't originate in North America. IT doesn't surprise us to read or hear them any more, even if we know in my hearts that we never used the phrase "went on holiday" in our lives before the last decade.
posted by Miko at 6:21 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are autumn and bum Britishisms? I think they are just English...

In the US, "bum" means a derelict. I understand the Brits use it approximately the same way we do "fanny" (which, again, here is considered a polite, old-maidy euphemism for "butt").
posted by psoas at 6:22 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


wanky
posted by ambient2 at 6:24 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


They didn't list wanker or wank (maybe for obvious reasons), but I read that word a lot from US folks. Though I wish it were us giving up "autumn" than others picking it up. It has always sounded like a pretentious word to me. Round my way many locals call it "backend", and so "autumn" just sounds stupidly posh in comparison.
"Wonky" is the only one I know I've adopted myself because it is really sometimes the best possible word. When you've just had to reconnect six times, "sorry, my wireless is wonky" seems to do much better with denoting that it is an inexplicable and probably unfixable problem. "My wireless is unstable" implies I need a new router or maybe I have a configuration issue. Wonky implies that I need to go glower at it for awhile, give it a stern talking-to, unplug it until it says it's sorry, and then it'll probably be okay for awhile longer.
I don't know about the whole of England, but certainly in the parts I know we wouldn't say "wonky" for this, but "dodgy". "Wonky" means physically uneven or unstable. Interesting.
Well, the people of Newport, RI, insist that "Thames" is pronounced with the "Th," that was how it was done in the 18th C, and the British have forgotten how to do it properly. No idea if that's correct, but, hey...
The "t" pronunciation is original, not the "th". The river was called Temes in Old English.
posted by Jehan at 6:24 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


wonky to a coworker here in London the other day, and she said, 'Ha, hardly ever hear that word.'

I actually think American wonky and British wonky are different, and it gets confusing. In the US we can say somebody is wonky if they're a policy wonk or data wonk - another version of geek, except more political. The Britishism is more for equipment that's about to fail or doesn't work well.
posted by Miko at 6:25 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Data point, the Thames River in New London, CT, is also called "Thames," rhyming with James, with the full th- .
posted by Miko at 6:25 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think Britishisms have been in my personal vernacular for, oh, I dunno, nearly twenty years (mostly because I was an Anglophile since I was a little kid much to the confusion of anyone in the suburban American South). But even now, though I do use them, I use them in a proper context. All too often I have seen people on Facebook who clump them all together and it just sounds weird and all a mess. As though they think because they've seen Attack the Block or whatever that makes them Sarf London hardcore.

(Also, chav is offensive and I will slap an American that uses it.)
posted by Kitteh at 6:26 AM on October 17, 2012


"When I was in New York and waiting with an American friend to get into a bar, I called it a queue. She told me that in the US it was called a line. However, she commented that 'queue' was becoming more common because of the use of the term 'printer queue' in computing."

Isn't it "on line?"


G&P, can you explain what "it" is here? I honestly can't parse this.
posted by psoas at 6:26 AM on October 17, 2012


Speaking only for my New England gang, we picked up and actively used lots of phrases from Monty Python back in the late 70s. Teens love catch phrases and we integrated them right alongside Steve Martin and SNL. I recall greeting friends in the cafeteria with "what's all this then?" and thinking nothing of it.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:29 AM on October 17, 2012


I think Genji and Prost are referring to the NY/NJ/CT Metro usage for waiting a turn in line. People from the region (such as me) will use the phrase "on line" interchangeably with "in line." It's not a huge difference, but apparently "on line" sounds funny to people from the hinterlands.

I didn't know until maybe 5 years ago that this was a regional marker - I used the phrase where I lived in NH, and an aquaintance (who didn't know my background) said "So, what part of New Jersey are you from?"
posted by Miko at 6:29 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


we picked up and actively used lots of phrases from Monty Python back in the late 70

I did too, but that comes under the affectedness I mentioned before. Intentionally adopting phrases like that as a marker of pride in difference is something teenagers have done for a long time. But that's not the same phenomenon as having colloquialisms creep into unconscious mainstream usage from sources the users can't remember or identify.
posted by Miko at 6:31 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Speaking only for my New England gang, we picked up and actively used lots of phrases from Monty Python back in the late 70s. Teens love catch phrases and we integrated them right alongside Steve Martin and SNL.

Same with my gang in CT in the 80's. We even incorporated a few catchphrases from the Secret Policeman's Other Ball show. And don't even get me started on Hitchhikers references.

I'm not so sure it's "Americans" incorporating British slang so much as it's "American geeks".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:31 AM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


In that expression, "roundabouts" is referring to fairground merry-go-rounds, not circular intersections.

Eh, live and learn.

(I was actually referring to the article anyway)
posted by daniel_charms at 6:33 AM on October 17, 2012


Dude - a couple days ago, I had this weird thing where I kept using Britishisms... I made a post on facebook, here's what I wrote...
Lord help me, I just caught myself, when reading about x, y, z coordinates, saying "zed" instead of "zee" HALP I'm becoming British!

Before you know it I'll be saying things like queue, petrol and... worst of all "different to"...
Then my friend said "you'll know you've reached the point of no return when you start mispronouncing aluminum, and I shit you not...

I READ IT AS ALUMINIUM!

That said, I really do like "bloody" and have loved since I was a wee lad. I'm especially fond of "bloody 'ell"
posted by symbioid at 6:33 AM on October 17, 2012


No, the copyeditor in me is going to insist this isn't geek mimicry we're talking about. Certainly, TV and movie from the UK play a part in introducing what are neologisms in American. But there's also a big part of this that reflects changing colloquial mainstream usage, not just self-conscious language play.
posted by Miko at 6:33 AM on October 17, 2012


I knew that I was part of the Commonwealth now when my iPad started correcting all words that ended in "or" to "our" and "ense" to "ence." I am waiting to see what it does to words in "ize" by the next upgrade, because I swear to you it never ever did that in the past year.
posted by Kitteh at 6:37 AM on October 17, 2012


I use wonky as I heard on Red Dwarf with the Despair Squid. I never use wonky to mean "wonkish" as in "Wonkette is rather wonkish" but never "Wonkette is rather wonky"... "Actin' a bit wonky today." is certainly more like something I'd say.
posted by symbioid at 6:40 AM on October 17, 2012


apparently "on line" sounds funny to people from the hinterlands

As someone from "the tri-state area" who also says "on line", I must insist on the correctness of our usage.

A line is a one-dimensional entity. It is a topological impossibility for a three-dimensional entity to be "in" it.

Imagine you've drawn a line on the floor and you want someone to stand over it. Are you going to stay "stand in that line"? Or are you going to say "stand on that line"?
posted by Egg Shen at 6:40 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think Genji and Prost are referring to the NY/NJ/CT Metro usage for waiting a turn in line. People from the region (such as me) will use the phrase "on line" interchangeably with "in line." It's not a huge difference, but apparently "on line" sounds funny to people from the hinterlands.

It does sound funny to me (since I do only hear that usage from people in that area), but I was more puzzled because I thought the distinction being made was between the nouns "queue" and "line" (regardless of preposition) and couldn't figure out if "on line" was supposed to refer to the "printer queue" designation and now I've confused myself again I think.
posted by psoas at 6:43 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is "an item" specifically British? I always thought of it as a Valley-girl thing. And I think some of these have always existed in the US, but with pretty specific connotations -- "autumn" is slightly formal, "bum" is homey and childish. "Frock" is more or less the preserve of cutesy clothing stores. (I'm looking at you, Modcloth. Please don't try to make me vomit as I browse your dresses.)

Also, I think the reason this trend drives so many Americans nuts isn't because the phrases are associated with England, it's because they're associated with British TV and the kind of people who think that watching it means that they're more worldly and enlightened than everybody else. Particularly jarring when you hear things way outside their original class context. The slang that really is filtering pretty naturally into US English seems to be the less colorful stuff, like "queue" or "ginger," as opposed to exclamations or interjections.
posted by ostro at 6:43 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now that I think about it, I'm surprised that the British don't have many words for "queue" - just as the Eskimos have many words for "snow".
posted by Egg Shen at 6:46 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


couldn't figure out if "on line" was supposed to refer to the "printer queue" designation

No, it read to me like he was just extrapolating from the mention of "line." We don't use "line" for anything to do with the print queue.
posted by Miko at 6:46 AM on October 17, 2012


I'll believe this when I go a year without being made fun of (to my face!) for saying one of these things. See also the fact that my pronunciation of 'yogurt', 'pasta' and 'been' is totally unacceptable to Americans. Oh, add 'phone' as a verb to the list, too.

(Also, Roald Dahl wrote a book called The Twits. Surely this would be a natural route for the word to find its way into American English.)
posted by hoyland at 6:48 AM on October 17, 2012


One that I seem to have picked up is declaring 'Right!' whenever it's time to get up and go do something, like charging into the cannon-fire or starting to clean the kitchen.
posted by jquinby at 6:48 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Flat" instead of apartment was established Chicago usage for a long time, since "3-flat" is the term for the standard Chicago tenement. Dates at least to the 1980's.
posted by ocschwar at 6:51 AM on October 17, 2012


I really like "knackered," but I definitely can't get away with saying it. "Quite" has been sneaking its way into my speech, though.
posted by lauranesson at 6:53 AM on October 17, 2012


If I remember the story correctly, the term 'roundabout' for that smaller variant of the traffic circle was popularized/invented by an American working for the BBC back in the 20s or 30s. Before that, the story went, the British called them 'gyratory circuses'.

Britain, you're welcome. Because, come on—gyratory circus? So it's not Anglocreep really, but us just re-appropriating one of our own.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 6:58 AM on October 17, 2012


Whan longen folk (who wonynge fer by weste) to speak the tonge of Engelond, thay moote yeve heed to the spelling, that thay be evere honoured for theyre worthynesse.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:58 AM on October 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


That's it! My Halloween costume! Sexy Gyratory Circus!
posted by lauranesson at 6:59 AM on October 17, 2012


Oppa Gyratory Circus ... no, even Psy can't make something sexy-sounding out of that.
posted by Wordshore at 7:09 AM on October 17, 2012


I gotta tell you, once they put four roundabouts just down the road from you, and you get used to saying "roundabout," turning it into "bloody roundabout" seems pretty damned natural.
posted by tyllwin at 7:10 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just say stupid roundabout and I say it increasingly more every year. The damn things are populating the United States like rabbits. I lived in Surrey for a year and it's completely inconvenient to navigate to destinations with routes that avoid the major ones. Thus, my irritation at their growing prevalence, born in their native country, which is compounded by the fact that they can be handy replacements for certain intersections. Meh!


And as noted above, fall is the good original term. While autumn has an eloquence and the serenity of yellowed maple leaves carpeting a still green lawn in morning sunlight, it's still just a foreign tramp of a word imposing itself with its fancy use of two vowels.
posted by Atreides at 7:18 AM on October 17, 2012


Is 'sprog' a britishism? That's what we called our bundle of cells before it exploded into the world a screaming, pooping, mass of awesome.
posted by mfu at 7:18 AM on October 17, 2012


I just say stupid roundabout and I say it increasingly more every year. The damn things are populating the United States like rabbits.

I like the word for 'em in New England: rotary. In New Jersey we called them "traffic circles," which was fine, but rotary just sounds like more fun, besides being fewer syllables.

They're proliferating because research shows they're actually safer than multilane controlled-turn intersections.
posted by Miko at 7:23 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


The interesting thing about "innit" is how far its British use has stretched beyond the initial contraction of "isn't it". It's now used as a postscript to any statement where you're inviting the listener to agree with you.


"Innit" is a also a piece of Indian Reservation slang. I was hearing it in New Mexico long before my friends in the Too-Damn-Much-PBS crowd were using it.
posted by ocschwar at 7:24 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


They're proliferating because research shows they're actually safer than multilane controlled-turn intersections.


And they're called roundabouts because the new ones are deliberately made to be tighter than the old New England rotaries.
posted by ocschwar at 7:25 AM on October 17, 2012


Then again, there are those people who hear the word "roundabout" and think of this instead.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:30 AM on October 17, 2012


And they're called roundabouts because the new ones are deliberately made to be tighter than the old New England rotaries.

Really? Can you provide background? I would have assumed that it was just regionalism. Because even New England rotaries are designed quite differently now than they were 20 years ago - it's not as though "rotary" is a specific design, it's just a concept.
posted by Miko at 7:31 AM on October 17, 2012


You must be referring to this sort of usage:
In the U.S., many people use the terms "roundabout", "traffic circle", and "rotary" interchangeably, and they are defined as synonyms in dictionaries.[13] This is the reason for the distinction made when engineers use the term, "modern roundabout". Many old traffic circles remain in the northeastern US. Since many of the older junction forms have unfavourable safety records, transportation professionals are careful to use "roundabout" when referring to the newer designs and "traffic circle" or "rotary" when referring to ones that do not meet the criteria listed above.
I'd still say, whether an engineer would call them "modern roundabouts" or not, in New England they are all still called rotaries.
posted by Miko at 7:33 AM on October 17, 2012


I'm musing over the fact that they say "in hospital" rather than "in the hospital".

I suspect the availability of government health care is involved.
posted by Egg Shen at 7:38 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Then again, there are those people who hear the word "roundabout" and think of this instead.

I reflexively sing "In and around the lake," out loud, every time I have to merge into one, and "...mountains come out of the sky" when exiting. I have to, it's the law.
posted by jquinby at 7:40 AM on October 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I suspect the availability of government health care is involved.

It goes back to before that, though.
posted by Miko at 7:44 AM on October 17, 2012


I hear American schoolchildren say "Brilliant!" a lot when they like things, for which I blame Harry Potter. Totally unironic and unaffected. It's pretty cute.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:46 AM on October 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't know about the whole of England, but certainly in the parts I know we wouldn't say "wonky" for this, but "dodgy". "Wonky" means physically uneven or unstable. Interesting.

See, and I intentionally picked it up from British internet friends in the mid-90s about ongoing adventures in laggy connections and dialup, and never really thought about it after that. Given that everybody I knew was kind of part of the same group--probably an internet-subcultural thing that I figured was more universal. Which is an interesting element of language drift, when you're picking things up from people who already aren't quite standard...

Granted, I should be more aware of this, I always forget, too, that nobody outside my little geographic area in the real world refers to that piece of grass in front of the house as the devil strip.
posted by gracedissolved at 7:53 AM on October 17, 2012


that piece of grass in front of the house

What, the tree lawn?
posted by Miko at 7:55 AM on October 17, 2012


Americans don't say "autumn"? This feels like when I discovered "washroom" will get you funny looks in parts of the US, and you should say "bathroom" even if there's no bath, or "restroom".
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 7:58 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


We say 'autumn' but it's considered more formal than 'fall.' You go back to school in the fall.

"washroom" will get you funny looks in parts of the US

What parts? I sometimes say that one and have never noticed. I tend to be random about this name - washroom, restroom (most common prob), bathroom, ladies' room....
posted by Miko at 8:00 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


nobody in the US understands "the dog's bollocks"....

I'd actually love an explanation as to why this is considered to be a good thing. Because dog balls aren't something I've considered getting all happy about.


Though there is no consensus on this, I'd posit that it is purely down to the use of the definite article. Saying that something is "a dog's bollocks" is clearly not complimentary by any stretch of the imagination - dog's bollocks being two a penny these days. But to say that something is "the dog's bollocks" implies that while, yes we are still talking mutt's nuts, these are the very ne plus ultra of dog's danglers. And being compared to the apex of anything can be taken to be complimentary.

Similar reasoning could apply to why it's a good thing if you are "the shit", but less so if you're simply "a shit".
posted by MUD at 8:00 AM on October 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


People here are calling the serious junctions that people use correctly "roundabouts", and the little traffic calming things where 50% of people get the right of way wrong "traffic circles".
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 8:01 AM on October 17, 2012


"Tere's me tum' is my favorite way to mock the Irish aversion to haightches, Other than that most everything short of rhyming slang is understandable. Disclaimer I lived in Britain til six years old, use my fork in the left hand cut with my right. I often find myself spelling words with the gratuitous "u" I have no idea why at 59 I still adopt this affectation. I usually will correct the spelling but have been known to add the words to my personal dictionary.
posted by pdxpogo at 8:11 AM on October 17, 2012


I actually think American wonky and British wonky are different, and it gets confusing. In the US we can say somebody is wonky if they're a policy wonk or data wonk - another version of geek, except more political.

I've never heard it used this way. In that particular instance I was referring to a copier which just never seems to work. Having now been a teacher in both the US and the UK I'd say there's a lot more borrowing of slang among children. Like someone said above a lot of my US kids use 'brilliant' and 'snog' because of (probably) Harry Potter. Likewise I hear my UK kids using Americanisms like 'totally', 'wicked', and even 'elevator'. I know a lot of them are huge fans of Adventure Time so I figure they must be picking it up from American tv.

On another note, I have friend who's a conspiracy nut and is always saying 'dodgy', and now it's creeping into my vocabulary.
posted by Partario at 8:13 AM on October 17, 2012


At a gas station in Oklahoma I was corrected: "Oh, you mean the bathroom?"

Some time later I looked it up and it's way more commonly used in Canada.

Also, probably in California because I fly over there often, "Excuse me, where's the washroom?" "The restroom is over there".
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 8:14 AM on October 17, 2012


My family is of British descent, so maybe we always used some of the words in the main link. "Autumn," for instance. (But that's probably more common in Canada and the US than the writer thinks.) And "bloody" was a swear word, not to be used in front of parents. Dad really didn't like that one.
posted by Kevin Street at 8:17 AM on October 17, 2012


People here are calling the serious junctions that people use correctly "roundabouts", and the little traffic calming things where 50% of people get the right of way wrong "traffic circles".

Or, if you're in Minnesota, they get the right of way horribly wrong on the proper roundabouts, too. Wrong as in stopping on the roundabout.
posted by hoyland at 8:23 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


My current employer is a UK-based company, and the desktop teams on both sides share the same ticketing system, so I get to see all the help tickets from UK users. One I saw yesterday tickled me no end:

I know its a bit cheeky, but I wonder if its possible to swap the SyncMaster for a second P2210 if there are any available.

Just because I would *never* get a ticket like that in a million years. More's the pity.
posted by briank at 8:24 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I grew up a British kid in the Northeast.
Many of the books I loved when I was a kid were English as were many of the TV shows we watched.
Listening to my father curse at a stuck bolt was a master's course in strange words and phrases.
To this day, the occasional 'u' slips into my typing for no particular reason.

Unfortunately, with my accent, my father's eloquent 'sodding thing' just makes me sound like a git.

Similarly, if you're from Ohio and walking around saying 'bloody this' and 'bloody that', you sound like a right wanker*, so stop.

Just stop.


* I was going to use another word that my relatives are fond of, but it's another word they get to use and Americans don't. Of course, they pronounce it wrong, so what do they know.
posted by madajb at 8:41 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find myself saying things like bloody and cheeky more and more, but for the past +5 years I've been dating a woman who was raised in London, so I may be an extreme example. I have a habit of picking up the verbal tics of people I spend a lot of time with.
posted by brundlefly at 8:42 AM on October 17, 2012


Oh please, be married to a reformed Yorkshireman and before long the strangest fucking words will start coming out of your mouth.
posted by The Whelk at 8:44 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can't find a geographical distribution for this one, but here is some discussion of washroom/bathroom etc.

I'd really like to see it mapped in the US.

The only one that grates, for me, is 'toilet' - as in "where is the toilet?" as a way of getting directions to the bathroom. I understand it's just a perfectly normal word to use for the room itself and does not descend from a reference to the actual commode, but my grandmother's lace-curtain decency rebels: ewwww, they just said toilet.
posted by Miko at 8:48 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Growing up around here it was always "washroom" in public and "bathroom" at home. Could be we picked up the habit of saying "bathroom" from TV.

My impression is that "bloody" used to be a very rude, low class thing to say. But during the 20th century it became less of a swear word and more of a casual way to express emphasis.
posted by Kevin Street at 8:50 AM on October 17, 2012


I like calling things pants.

Cause pants are ridiculous. Sausage casings for your legs!
posted by The Whelk at 8:53 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Americans don't say "autumn"? This feels like when I discovered "washroom" will get you funny looks in parts of the US, and you should say "bathroom" even if there's no bath, or "restroom".

There are some words here that may be used in Canada as well as Britain. I always heard autum when I was a kid in Canada, but I never used automn in writing because I can't spell.

"Washroom" may not be uniquely Canadian, but it's not used the UK or in many parts of the US. They talk about that in an episode of Northern Exposure when Shelley goes to visit friends in Canada and I had to learn to stop using it in Connecticut because it just confused most people. Many Canadians also use tap instead of faucet.

The only one that grates, for me, is 'toilet' - as in "where is the toilet?" as a way of getting directions to the bathroom. I understand it's just a perfectly normal word to use for the room itself and does not descend from a reference to the actual commode, but my grandmother's lace-curtain decency rebels: ewwww, they just said toilet.

and yet, ironically, "toilet" is itself a euphemism to refer to washing. The really rude thing would be to say "Where can I urinate/shit?"

I adjusted to toilet very quickly in Britain, though I tended to say "loo" more often as it sounded softer. My SO says loo-roll, but I still say toilet paper. (Why do North Ams have no problem with toilet-paper, but with toilet?)
posted by jb at 8:56 AM on October 17, 2012


The Britishism is more for equipment that's about to fail or doesn't work well.

To this Britisher wonky means something that's not straight or wobbly (I put a picture up but it's a bit wonky. Let's move, we've got the wonky table.). I've never come across it mean faulty equipment. That's more like shoddy.
posted by jontyjago at 9:04 AM on October 17, 2012


I've wrapped myself up in so much British media and am surrounded by so many English (internet) friends that I sometimes forget if some of the words/phrases I use are 'okay' in American English or not. The word 'pants' doesn't come naturally to me like it used to, for example. They're trousers now.

Sorry if this apparently offends people.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 9:06 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


cherrio, pip pip, nudge nudge, wink wink...now sod off.
posted by stormpooper at 9:11 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


little bit of the ole lampshades in the submarine eh?
posted by The Whelk at 9:15 AM on October 17, 2012


I've never come across it mean faulty equipment.

I may have misunderstood the nuance, but I learned the British version on ships, where if something is wobbly or unstable it's definitely faulty anyhow.
posted by Miko at 9:22 AM on October 17, 2012


I just searched my work mail for "wonky", and the first result was an American IT guy describing a faulty/misbehaving server.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 9:43 AM on October 17, 2012


It does sound funny to me (since I do only hear that usage from people in that area), but I was more puzzled because I thought the distinction being made was between the nouns "queue" and "line" (regardless of preposition) and couldn't figure out if "on line" was supposed to refer to the "printer queue" designation and now I've confused myself again I think.

Sorry, I just thought it was funny that the queue/line example was from NY, which is the only place I have heard the in line/on line distinction. Of course, I guess in NYC you could be online on line in your in-lines, assuming wearing inline skates were still a thing.

Also, yes miko had it correctly; sorry for the confusion.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:12 AM on October 17, 2012


little bit of the ole lampshades in the submarine eh?

That would put a spanner in the works.
posted by Egg Shen at 10:14 AM on October 17, 2012


I like calling things pants. Cause pants are ridiculous. Sausage casings for your legs!

That's not the kind of pants they're talking about, you know....

Although, I do think "pants" is one of those words that is just intrinsicly funny no matter what kind of garment is meant.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:17 AM on October 17, 2012


In writing, I constantly use "whilst" rather than "while."

So, yeah. I, for one, will welcome and quarter my new Redcoat Overlords.
posted by Danf at 10:28 AM on October 17, 2012


Do any Americans use the (origin: Scotland) word "outwith" yet? Seems to be suddenly common in academia in England.
posted by Wordshore at 10:31 AM on October 17, 2012


I'll tell you one phrase that hasn't come over: "take the mickey". Because here's how the conversation went when I was working with a bunch of Brits at a British company's office in the US.

"Don't worry. He's just takin' the mick."
"Taking the mick?"
"Taking the mickey."
"Taking the mickey? What's that?"
"Ah, that's just the polite version of 'to take the piss'."
"'Take the piss'? What?"
"You know, to take the piss out of someone."

At which point my poor, confused brain, like Microsoft Word trying to open an MP3 file, did the best it could with what it had been given. It conjured the image of opening someone's chest via some kind of kitchen cupboard door, revealing a shelf on which there was a small flask filled with yellowish urine, which was then literally "taken out" of the person. I didn't figure out the actual meaning until months later.

I wonder what would have happened if I'd have said "You're pulling my leg, aren't you?". Do the British use that phrase, or would I have just given back as much confusion as I had received?
posted by benito.strauss at 10:43 AM on October 17, 2012


EmpressCallipygos: "I like calling things pants. Cause pants are ridiculous. Sausage casings for your legs!

That's not the kind of pants they're talking about, you know....
"

They're talking about foreskins, aren't they?
posted by symbioid at 11:02 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


/Oh, and apologies to any Irish folk who might have been offended by that exchange. I'm not sure what the overtones of "mick" are when used that way.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:03 AM on October 17, 2012


Oh please, be married to a reformed Yorkshireman and before long the strangest fucking words will start coming out of your mouth.
Indeed, as much as some of the words in this article might muddle a few US minds, they're nothing compared to heavyweight dialect words. As a kid I took it for granted that everybody knew what sprag, beal, boke, and tush meant. Yet they're not even in most dictionaries.
The only one that grates, for me, is 'toilet' - as in "where is the toilet?" as a way of getting directions to the bathroom. I understand it's just a perfectly normal word to use for the room itself and does not descend from a reference to the actual commode, but my grandmother's lace-curtain decency rebels: ewwww, they just said toilet.
In England, "toilet" is polite. To be rude you have to ask for the "bog".
/Oh, and apologies to any Irish folk who might have been offended by that exchange. I'm not sure what the overtones of "mick" are when used that way.
We call Irish jokes, "thick Mick" jokes.
posted by Jehan at 11:06 AM on October 17, 2012


My impression is that "bloody" used to be a very rude, low class thing to say. But during the 20th century it became less of a swear word and more of a casual way to express emphasis.

I wouldn't say 'bloody' in front of my mother and I do say 'fuck' in front of my mother. I do say 'bloody' in (US) public, though.
posted by hoyland at 11:13 AM on October 17, 2012


That said, as far as my mother swearing goes, 'blood and sand' is the phrase deployed in the most extreme circumstances and I have no idea what that's supposed to mean.
posted by hoyland at 11:15 AM on October 17, 2012


That said, as far as my mother swearing goes, 'blood and sand' is the phrase deployed in the most extreme circumstances and I have no idea what that's supposed to mean.
My grandfather says that it originated with downed planes in WW2. Folk coming to the scene of a bad crash with mangled wreckage soon learnt to exclaim, "well, blood and sand!" Why? Because that's all the relatives would get to bury...

I doubt this is true, but they supposedly did use dirt as makeweight for coffins if there wasn't enough left to bury.
posted by Jehan at 11:23 AM on October 17, 2012


They're talking about foreskins, aren't they?

Nope - the things you wear on the outside are "trousers", and "pants" are you wear underneath your trousers.

Your foreskin is inside your pants and therefore your own business.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:32 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not able to do full research at the moment, but I think the origin "the dog's bollocks" might be connected to the dog's dinner/breakfast expression, no?
posted by Queen of Spreadable Fats at 11:33 AM on October 17, 2012


A line is a one-dimensional entity. It is a topological impossibility for a three-dimensional entity to be "in" it.

I'm sorry, it's impossible to be "on line" unless you are splayed out on top of the people who are waiting. These unfortunate people are "in line."

I moved out east from Michigan; I'll relent to "soda" for "pop" but I am not surrendering this one.
posted by stevis23 at 11:42 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


My youthful penchant for absorbing British media (in the form of Agatha Christie and Monty Python, particularly) came in handy when I visited Jamaica at 19 years old. A member of our group wanted to cash a check, and the local Port Antonio bank wouldn't take it without an account holder's co-signature.

On exiting the bank, we asked a random passerby if he could help, and through his thick Jamaican accent he explained that he did not have an account there, and that we needed a liar.

The check-holder protested that he would not want anyone to lie about it, and the man exclaimed louder and louder, that we needed to see a LIAR. After repeating "LIAR" about half a dozen times, and seeing our confusion, and with his frustration growing he finally said, "No! Not a LIAR! A LYYY-ERRR!!! A barrister!!!"

The rest of the group has no clue what a barrister was, but I saw there was a lawyer's office across the street and thanked him. The LAWYER (not liar) was an account holder and gladly co-signed the check, as he knew who we were staying with.

Some of my co-travellers thought I must have been very worldly and intelligent to know the meaning of the word "barrister" so I just smiled smugly and didn't let on it was from watching Monty Python.

I'm just glad he didn't say "solicitor."
posted by The Deej at 12:05 PM on October 17, 2012


Canadianism I can't bring myself to use, but like: "goof". As in, wanker, twit, jackass. Also, rude Canadianism I don't hear anyone but BC peckerwoods using, and which I've made it my personal mission in life to popularize: "fucky", which would be wonky, or as in the last example, goofy.

Americanism British never seem to use: "the can". Americanism the British seem to have picked up waaaaaay too enthusiastically: the sarcastic "really?" as in, "I totally can't believe you just said that." Britishism Americans seem to have picked up on: "bog-standard".

Chinese official-speak I've found creeping into my speech: "relevant authorities", used in news articles and pronouncements as shorthand to indicate multiple or obscure (or to obfuscate) the people in charge of something. Other useful Sinicisms: "harmonize" (censor), "tall rich handsome/white rich pretty" (used as gendered nouns, "I'm a tall rich handsome", in reference to romantic partners), "firing squad" (毙 as verb, to completely screw something up), "-cunt" (intensifier suffix like "-ass", which you can append to ANYTHING-cunt), "jiong/WTF" (囧, it looks like a face going "WTF!", so it turned into internet slang as an adjective, "Look at this jiong-cunt cute kitty!"), and "a bro" (used to refer to myself in third person).

I like innit, and I'm keeping it. I'm a NAM, a Merkin (I say this, actually!), for anecdata.

In sum: language r fokken sweet, innit?
posted by saysthis at 12:12 PM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


We should just standardize (standardise?) on shitter.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:02 PM on October 17, 2012


I, American, had always pictured "wonky" has describing facial features that were sort of "off" and it just hit me that this mental picture is from a quote by noted British author Roald Dahl.

I'm a NAM, a Merkin (I say this, actually!), for anecdata.

Uh.
posted by psoas at 1:36 PM on October 17, 2012


The British guy I dated in college -- my first (and only) college boyfriend -- announced his interest in me be stating, "You know, I'm quite keen on you." I had no idea what he meant and went merrily on my way.

He had to try again using different words.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:10 PM on October 17, 2012


I have a dear British friend who I spend a lot of time with. I also absorb language styles VERY easily. I realized recently that "cunt" has slowly crept into my usage, and that it had better creep the hell back out again.
posted by mollymayhem at 2:37 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Are y'all having a laugh? Can't think I've ever used that one, but I do like it. A lot of these britishisms sound normal to me, but I'm a magpie that way, if it says it better, I'll go ahead and use it. 'Dog's bollocks' is wonderful, and I'll take it.

I've always liked the various kinds of 'boys' there are- 'wide boys' is super-evocative to me. Hard boys is good, hey, 'let's hear it for the Soft Boys.' I've always wondered about 'bovver boys', let's see if the internet can enlighten me... yeah, it's about like I thought. But I imagine you have to sound cockney to actually pull it off.

Not sure how many times I heard 'Seventeen' by the Sex Pistols before I understood he was repeating "I'm a lazy sod," but I know it was years after that that I understood it was supposed to be dirty. I'll use it occasionally, but since that meaning of 'sod' isn't current over here, it probably just makes me sound goofy. Oh wells.
posted by hap_hazard at 3:07 PM on October 17, 2012


That said, if americans ever start saying 'drink driving', it's probably going to piss me off, because that just sounds dumb. Could also do without turning things into baby talk, i.e. 'telly' or any of the creepy terms for food like 'buttie,' whatever the hell that is. But maybe that's just me.
posted by hap_hazard at 5:05 PM on October 17, 2012


I cannot remember a time when the word "twit" was not used.

Me neither. I think "fuckwit" is a recent arrival, though.
posted by homunculus at 5:39 PM on October 17, 2012


I guess "zuffle" never really caught on.
posted by homunculus at 5:41 PM on October 17, 2012


Canadianism I can't bring myself to use, but like: "goof".

i've been hearing that one in michigan since the 60s

the worst canadianism in the world is "eh?" - it's been 30 years since i summered in canada and i'm STILL saying it
posted by pyramid termite at 5:45 PM on October 17, 2012


I use 'shit munchers' because of Peep Show. But I heard it first from Bill Hicks.
posted by PHINC at 5:48 PM on October 17, 2012


I can't stand this sort of affectation (the American students I'd hear in the pub when I was living in Oxford would just drive me menn(t)alll) but I can't stand a lot of silly Britishisms either: "not fit for purpose", "gap year", "have you got?", "want to come with?". Worse is the habit, especially among the upper and aspiring upper classes to ascribe infantile nicknames to everything: biscuit becomes 'biccy'; sandwich becomes 'sammy'...
But the British love their Britishisms and they seem to come up with new ones every season and the old ones discarded. I don't think anybody's referred to a 'bovver boy' [skinhead] in decades.
posted by Flashman at 6:28 PM on October 17, 2012


I'm fairly bad at judging these things, but I'm 99% sure "want to come with?" exists in some parts of the US. Google turns up the abstract some bloke's dissertation about its use in Minnesota.
posted by hoyland at 6:50 PM on October 17, 2012


I don't think anybody's referred to a 'bovver boy' [skinhead] in decades.

:(
I probably got that from who knows where, Iain Sinclair? Martin Amis? Moore, Moorcock, something in The Invisibles? Something pulpier somehow than any of that? Maybe it was at least some period stuff. There does seem to be a current-ish band called that.. I was going to link to them but they're definitely skinheads, and I'm not going to spend the time to parse whether they're the good kind or not.

/end 'railly
posted by hap_hazard at 6:57 PM on October 17, 2012


"but I'm 99% sure "want to come with?" exists in some parts of the US."

It's a pretty standard midwestern usage. Chicago Tribune on it. I've heard both Hilary Clinton and Michelle Obama use it, actually. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:14 PM on October 17, 2012


Worse is the habit, especially among the upper and aspiring upper classes to ascribe infantile nicknames to everything: biscuit becomes 'biccy'; sandwich becomes 'sammy'...
Upper class say words like biccy and telly? Never knew that. Shortening words with a "-y" or "-ie" ending is common among normal folk too. I've not knowingly spoken to an upper class person, but I know plenty such words. For example:

bevvy: drink, usually alcoholic
biccy: biscuit
croggy: passenger ride on a pushbike
divvy: divide, dividend
fotie: photograph
leccy: electricity
plaggy: plastic
sarnie: sandwich
telly: television
posted by Jehan at 7:28 PM on October 17, 2012


"Want to come with?" is a Germanism/Yiddishism common in many parts of the US. It has its own Ask thread. I was startled to learn that there are Americans to whom it sounds strange.
posted by escabeche at 9:11 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was only in London a few whiffens past... Chip chip churree!!!
posted by dunkadunc at 10:48 PM on October 17, 2012


What, no love for 'gutted,' meaning extremely disappointed? It's caught on incredibly quickly here since the 2000s, and it certainly catches that almost visceral sensation of hollowness that's caused by a really big let-down.
posted by Ripper Minnieton at 12:38 AM on October 18, 2012


As someone from "the tri-state area" who also says "on line", I must insist on the correctness of our usage.

A line is a one-dimensional entity. It is a topological impossibility for a three-dimensional entity to be "in" it.

Imagine you've drawn a line on the floor and you want someone to stand over it. Are you going to stay "stand in that line"? Or are you going to say "stand on that line"?


Maybe it's that New Yorkers need to shoulder their way through the crowds, to push, to shove, to dominate, to stand ON line.

Californians are out in the sun, they might even be slightly more relaxed than the New Yorkers. They're IN the line, they're a part of the line, they are the line.

I can't pretend to speak for points in between. I can't even pretend to speak for New York or California.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:59 AM on October 18, 2012


Maybe it's that New Yorkers need to shoulder their way through the crowds, to push, to shove, to dominate, to stand ON line.

New Yorkers, while they don't necessarily have a lot of patience for bullshit and are very good at moving through crowds, are generally pretty nice. That macho dominating elbowing crap is 100% Massachusetts.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:20 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


The people are the line. You stand "in" line. If you're "on" line you're standing on top of somebody.
posted by Gringos Without Borders at 4:20 AM on October 18, 2012


No mention of 'loo' in the washroom/restroom/lavvy/bog/netty/WC debate?
posted by Myeral at 4:30 AM on October 18, 2012


My daughter picked up "want to come with?" from some time in the midwest, as so far as "sammy/sammie" for "sandwich," my mind jumps to Rachel Ray (along with "EVOO" and "delish"). I just think it's funny that the Britishisms that sound annoying and affected to you are ones I'd never have picked out as Britishisms at all.
posted by tyllwin at 6:07 AM on October 18, 2012


I hear "wonky" a lot in tech contexts. I'm actually surprised it isn't in the jargon file.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 11:15 AM on October 18, 2012


Shortening words with a "-y" or "-ie" ending is common among normal folk too.

"Sammie" has caught on in the US, but for that I blame Rachel Ray, not the UK.

I learned "Brekkie" (breakfast) from an Australian boss and now use it all the time.

New Yorkers, while they don't necessarily have a lot of patience for bullshit and are very good at moving through crowds, are generally pretty nice. That macho dominating elbowing crap is 100% Massachusetts.

Having lived in both places, that's absolutely true. The idea that New Yorkers are rude is a total canard. They know how to behave in big crowds, something few people in other parts of America do. They have a pretty strong sense of justice that means they won't tolerate you cutting in front of them, but neither will they tolerate other people generally screwing up the system for others. Massachusetts people are shockingly inconsiderate of others; the idea is to treat everyone else as completely nonexistent (this is the real deal behind the famous "reserve," and hope to get away with your pushiness.

Living in the Boston area now, and whenever I travel back to the New York area, I breathe easier, especially using public transport: people sharing space are a thousand times more civilized about it in New York City.
posted by Miko at 2:02 PM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


re: pulling your leg

The more common expression would be "the other's got bells on," as in "pull the other leg, there're bells on it."

However I've heard take the mickey many times used by Americans going back a long time. I think it's just old fashioned.
posted by syncope at 3:17 PM on October 18, 2012


Really? "Take the mickey" in America? Can I ask where and when, because I've never heard it from anyone other that a Brit, Scot, Welsh, or Irish person.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:11 PM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've only heard "slip him/her a mickey."
posted by Atreides at 6:02 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Never heard "take the mickey" in the US.
posted by Miko at 6:09 AM on October 19, 2012


In Canada, a mickey is a 375 mL bottle of liquor shaped like a flask. It's not even really slang; for example you can ask the guy at the liquor store for a mickey of beefeater gin.

Only ever heard "slip a mickey" in US TV/movies, and I think that's probably being displaced by "roofie".
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:01 PM on October 19, 2012


Extracting the Michael.
posted by Grangousier at 2:33 PM on October 19, 2012


Mickey's?
posted by pupdog at 4:57 PM on October 19, 2012


Britishisms In America, Americanisms In Britain, Suggested Swaps Across The Pond
Dear England,

The British press has had its knickers in a twist over Americans appropriating Britishisms for some time, whingeing about it in The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Beeb, and even that font of high British cultural observation, The Sun, which noted the phenomenon in its own colorful bespoke style.

But it has now been officially recognized on this side of the…ocean (sorry, ‘pond’ is just too trite)… in no less than The New York Times, in a wonderfully snarky piece by Alex Williams, who suggests that many Americans trying to sound hip and clever in fact are sounding too clever by half. The Britishization of English in America has also been officially recognized with its own website, Not One-Off Britishisms , the wonderfully entertaining work of English (the language, not the country) professor Ben Yagoda. A phenomenon sanctioned with its own website is sort of the Information Age equivalent of the OED officially sanctioning a word.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:21 AM on October 21, 2012


A phenomenon sanctioned with its own website is sort of the Information Age equivalent of the OED officially sanctioning a word.

With so much to read out here on the Internet, it's useful to know when to stop reading an article because it's clear the writer has no idea what's going on.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:50 AM on October 21, 2012


I honestly had no idea until this thread that things like wonky, sussed, whinge, one-off, roundabout, 'pop over' and 'want to come with' (I am midwestern though for what it's worth) were Britishisms.

And 'snarky' is apparently a Britishism so CAST THE FIRST STONE METAFILTER I DARE YOU

Apparently by many's standards I am a poseur asshole. :/

I dunno man look language evolves can't we just let it do its thing without being dicks about it I mean English itself is just stolen words and phrases
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 3:03 PM on October 21, 2012


« Older The Genome Compiler is an IDE for DNA projects for...  |  Fifteen Scathing Early Reviews... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments