By Sue Seibert
I have admitted to you, and I will again, that I am a committed Anglophile. I love all things English, well, British, and I enjoy talking about it, too.
I subscribe to the British Monarchy Facebook page and look forward to seeing what the royals are doing each day – to seeing that Prince Philip is out and about after a long illness; that Prince William, known over there are the “Duke of Cambridge,” plays football (soccer) on the grounds of Buck House (Buckingham Palace); and that little Prince George Alexander Louis is growing well and strong.
I watch a lot of, almost exclusively, British television, both on PBS Channel 13, on BBC America, and on Netflix. I am addicted to the Brits and everything about them.
Right now I am watching a new television series called “Ripper Street,” staring Matthew Macfadyen and Jerome Flynn. It’s brand new and takes place in the East End of London shortly after Jack the Ripper’s time.
Another new, fabulous British television series is “Call the Midwife,” and it also takes place in the East End. It has many great actresses and actors, including Miranda Hart and Pam Ferris and Ben Caplan, to name a few.
I also love the British jargon. On BBC America they advertise that they speak English; and, of course, they do, but they speak Brit, not American!
For instance, to say the time 10:30, they say “half ten.” We say counterclockwise, and they say “anti-clockwise.” A “banger” is a sausage, and “mash” is, you got it, mashed potatoes. A favorite dish, bangers and mash!
A “barney” is a quarrel, and a “bed sit” is a one-room apartment which we call an efficiency. To be “chuffed” is to be proud or pleased, and a “cleg” is a horse fly.
To say someone is talking “codswallop” is to say they are talking garbage. Codswallop was coined after Hiram Codd, the inventor of the Codd bottle, which was the commonly used 19th Century bottle for fizzy drinks – you know, those carbonated drinks like Dr. Pepper!
“Cotton wool” is what we call a Q-Tip; the “dole” is welfare; an “estate agent” is a realtor; “gobsmacked” is slang for being astonished.
“Gormless” means stupid or clumsy. “Hols” are the holidays. An “ice lolly” is frozen fruit juice on a stick, and “identity parade” is a police lineup. A “jumble sale” is a rummage or garage sale, and if you are “legless” you are extremely drunk.
A “zebra crossing” is a crosswalk. “Wellies” are rubber boots, also known as Wellingstons after the Duke of Wellington. A “marrow” is a gourd fruit such as a squash, and “rashers” are slices of bacon.
If a person pulled up “sticks” in England, he pulled up stakes in America. If you are “toffee-nosed” there, you are stuck up here. And they don’t have dessert, they have “pudding.” Also, a “porky” is a lie – a short form of the rhyming slang pork pie for lie.
And they spell things differently, as well. For while they say “whilst,” and for among they say “amongst.” Color is “colour,” and neighbor is “neighbour.”
We have much in common with the British, but many things are different, as well, and our language plays a major part in that. When I began watching British television, often I would not understand a word they would say. Now I can even understand the Welsh, Irish and Scottish!
I highly recommend you get acquainted with the Brits on television. Their comedy is much more sophisticated than ours, and, often, their dramas are much deeper.