|Posted by dawngriffis on August 7, 2017 at 9:00 PM|
I belong to a private Facebook page for expats, or Brits living in North America, who are close to, or over 60 years old. Most of us have been in the US many years. Most of us came to this side of the pond because of marriage or work. Many of us came at a very young age, leaving family and friends behind, plus everything that was familiar to us, whether it was food, customs or speech. Most of us thought ‘well they speak the same language we do, so it will be easy’. It didn’t take long for many of us to realize, how wrong we were. Not only are things spelled differently, grammar is different, meanings are different, plus our multitude of sayings or words, are unknown to most American ears. This is where the saying comes from ‘that we are separated by a common language’. Oh! So true, most of us have spent many hours explaining ourselves, and what we truly mean. When we are in company of other Brits, it is so easy and nice, to talk without having to explain ourselves. Of course our American husbands were young when they came to Britain, and they had to learn to understand our speech, sayings, and customs; but I don’t think many of them thought to warn us how different it was in the US; I know mine didn’t.
On this side of the pond, where different areas have different names or terms for everyday things, the same applies in Britain; but probably because total area in Britain is much smaller, we often recognise where it comes from, and generally the meaning. Brits have spread to all areas of North America, and with the onset of Facebook have been able to easily reconnect, and support each other. Recently, on the Brit page I mentioned, some one asked what words or sayings they still used, that most locals needed an explanation for them to understand. We ended up with so many; I thought it might make for an interesting blog. Obviously this connects both sides of the pond, which is what I try to do each month. I asked Beverley Coleman, our kind and prolific poet in Banbury, to write a poem addressing the subject to post for you. I will post the poem first, then list all that came out of the list of words, names, saying and terminologies that the Facebook page generated. I will also try to put meaning by each. As all of you know, I can screw things up sometimes, so if I have, please put a correction in comments below.
I came across another poem in the British magazine, ‘Evergreen’ which really describes nicely this land we Brits come from, this I will share with you at the end along with relevant photos taken by the excellent photographer Anthony Morris who lives in Oxford. The last one is of Scotland taken by my niece Emily Alsford, she asked for people not to use it without her permission. Following those, I will post some pics from the US.
Here Bev’s poem I asked her what title she’d like to use she suggested this
To Hell and Back
By Beverley Coleman
I get up in the morning
Wash my FIZZOG and away
Use the LOO before I go
I won't be back today
I'm running down the GINNEL
Couldn't give a TINKERS CUSS
Need to now STEP ON IT
Or I might just miss the bus
The HEAVENS THEY DID OPEN
Thank the Lord for a BROLLY
Must go to the bank today
And draw out extra LOLLY.
I waved to the woman across the road
Who lives NEXT DOOR BUT ONE
She is always PISSED AS A NEWT
But seems to be having some fun
I then remembered back in the day
When lots of sayings were funny
Getting KNICKERS IN A TWIST
And NOT A HAPPY BUNNY.
I carried on regardless
Looking very far
And wondering another thought
WHY SPOIL A GOOD ROAD FOR A H'PENNETH OF TAR
I started then to DAWDLE
My mind on other things
I'm thinking I'm going DOOLALLY
I'll see what tomorrow brings.
Feeling in pain
I remembered another
NO PAIN..NO GAIN.
My head all ADDLED ...I was in a TISWAS
And trying to KEEP MY PECKER UP
I called into our local pub
A drink ....I need to SUP
Feeling refreshed and RARING TO GO
My NEW BROOM NOW SWEEPS CLEAN
I'm homeward bound and very tired
But remember where I've been
How to understand the Brits
‘A bit naff’. From S. London. = not happy with situation
‘Addled’= mind not working right, could be just from being over tired e.g. my mind feels addled meaning cant think clearly
‘A right cock up’, = screwed up something, but when we say this we usually get AWFUL looks.
‘A right narna or nana’ = a person who does stupid things
Being precise for example customers at the bank in the US are asked for a couple of something, and then when we give them the 2 they ask for more. Brit tends to take numbers literally so couple = 2, few would be a more flexible amount, usually up to about 5..
‘Bloody hell’! ‘What a twat’. ‘Sod off.’ ‘Bugger that for a game of soldiers’; this is how to give vent in front of Americans, by using the swear words to a Brit with Americans not having a clue what we're saying or that we are even swearing. I once saw a New Hampshire license plate that said ‘Sod off’ obviously NH DMV had no clue they were being sworn at.
Braces = suspenders
Brolly = umbrella
Checking the post and posting a letter. = post is same as mail
Cheesed off = had enough of whatever is being said or done
Cock up = messed up a job or project
‘cos = because
‘Couldn’t give Tinkers damn about it’; or a ‘Tinkers cuss’. Tinkers were people who delivered hardware item in lorries (trucks) to homes in villages; they were good news travelers and didn’t care too much about anything being true or how accurate everything was.
Crisps – chips
Dawdle = walk slow.
Different as Chalk and cheese, instead of night and day = (for 2 people being different when you might expect them to be similar as in siblings).
Discombobulated or Underconstumbled = all mixed up
Don't ask a lazy person to do anything, they never have time. Ask a busy person they will find time. This is so true
Don't get in a Tizz = don’t get upset
Don't get your knickers in a twist = again don’t get upset over little things, knickers are underpants usually female
Don’t just stand there like a tin of milk = don’t just stand there doing nothing
Don't lose your bottle = nerve
Don’t spoil a road for a h'peneth (halfpenny) of tar.= don’t make short cuts by not using enough of what is needed to do a job properly, in other words a job worth doing, is worth doing well, or a job's not worth a tinker's cuss if its not done well.
Double 2 throws Americans; Brits almost always will use double 2 or any number that there are 2 of the same number together or even triple 2 if there are 3 together are the same number
Elastoplasts = bandaid
Fiddle = whether an object or person or situation = to try anyway necessary to make it work e.g. I fiddled with it until it started.
Fizzogg = a person’s face
Fortnight = 2 weeks.
Going "doo lally tap" or doo lally = a little crazy in mind or thoughts not clear thinking or behaviour
In a tiswas = didn’t know which way to turn
Jacket potato. = baked potato
Jumper = sweater
keep your hair on = don’t get all upset over nothing
Keep your pecker up= keep your chin up, things will get better
Knock me up = knock on my door to wake me up in the morning.
Knocked up = woke me up as in the morning by knocking on my bedroom door
Lollygag = hanging around doing nothing useful
Loo = toilet
Mucky pup =someone who got dirty and messy
Nah! = No
Next door but one = it means the house after the one next door to you.
OAP. Old Age Pensioner = same as a person receiving SS
Off his trolly = a person not really with it mentally!
Old trout. = very old person probably wrinkled
Owt = nothing or anything e.g. I haven’t got owt to give you.
Pinched = stole
Pissed as a newt, people usually think it means mad- ticked off. = not happy with situation
Rubber, = eraser.
Rubber bands for elastic bands.
Scunnered or scuppered? = fooled or out done
Storm in a teacup, whereas Americans say tempest in a teapot; their version of "I'm a little teapot" is different too, and they often call a kettle a teapot or vice versa.
Take the dustbins out ‘cos the dustman is coming. = take the garbage or rubbish bins out because they are being collected, the dustman is the name given to the person doing the job of picking them up.
Tea up! = Means tea time the afternoon meal is ready or just a cup of tea is ready.
Telegraph poles = utility poles
The way we pronounce some things is hard for Americans to understand here are a couple of examples - Bottle many think we are saying butt holes; water they often think we are saying, weight.
’titfer’ = hat is a cockney rhyming slang, of course plus there's a problem if it the hat was red... "Red hat, no drawers!" drawers = underpants or knickers
You are in and out like a pox doctors clerk = in and out of the house
Wellies = Wellington boots
Here is the poem about our home country
Where in the World?
Meet the people, see the smiles.
Roam the counties, walk the miles.
Conquer mountains, see the coasts.
Try the famous Sunday roasts.
Drink the whiskey, drink the beer.
Marvel at the cultures here.
Visit Scotland, see the Glens.
Through your eyes or through a lens.
Watch the sunsets on the West.
That is Ireland at its best
Channel Islands, Isle of Wight.
Shetland for the Northern Lights.
Fish the rivers, walk the Dales
Steeped in history, hear the tales
Palaces and castles stand.
Waterways snake through the land.
Know the heritage and the laws.
Read of battles, read of wars.
Rulers, monarchs of the ages
Archived in the history pages.
Come and ride the railway
Through Snowdonia today.
As the light fades, day is done.
Go to Stonehenge, watch the sun.
John o’Groats down to Land’s End.
Wales to Ireland, families, friends.
Meet the people, see the smiles
Come, explore the British Isles!
By Joanne Jervis
Printed in the Evergreen magazine the summer 2017 edition
Blenheim Palace Woodstock By Anthony Morris
Hot day at Bourton on the Water by Anthony Morris
Birling Gap by Anthony Morris
Eastbourne beach and pier
Ponies keeping cool at Port Meadow Oxford by Anthony Morris
Minster Lovell ruins by Anthony Morris
Stocks at Stanton Harcourt by Anthony Morris
Whitney the town where the blankets were made. by Anthony Morris
Village of Shutford by the late Robert Bowman
South Western coast of Scotland by Emily Alsford
Arizona by Jean & Corb Sponcel
a garden in Arizona by Jean & Corb Sponcel
Golf course in Arizona by Jean & Corb Sponcel
Colorado stream by Carol Gillen
Oregon by Carol Gillen
Maine by Penny Gramling
Maine again by Penny Gramling
Chickens in Vermont owned bya Brit Jacqueline C Rousseau, where I get my eggs
Loon and chick by Jane Glick
That’s it folks hope you have enjoyed the blog, and thanks to all the Brits that contributed to it.