Monday, March 31, 2008
Max stayed up late last night composing a cute little joke for his loyal blog visitors. Max is not used to writing this kind of thing, so please bear with him. He hopes you find it humorous. Or even humourous. If not, perhaps you should be over at the perverted Welshman's place learning about high-quality plastics and the fine art of nipple-clamping instead of taking up valuable elbow room in our more refined blog. Also, in keeping with our goal of edifying a particular dumbass American in the finer points of English as it was meant tuh bee spoke, this little joke will be translated into the British by Sister Claire, and will appear in this space tomorrow. So cum N' lern. Try to come all at once, too.
A preacher wanted to earn money for his church in Texas. He had heard there was big money in horse racing, so he decided to purchase a horse and enter it in the races.
However at the auction, the going prices for horses were too steep and the preacher ended up buying a donkey. The preacher figured since he had the donkey, he might as well enter it in the races.
The next day the donkey came in third and the following day the racing form headlines read: “PREACHER’S ASS SHOWS.” The preacher was so pleased with the donkey that he entered it again. This time the donkey won. Next day the racing form headlines read: “PREACHER’S ASS OUT IN FRONT.”
The ranking bishop was so upset with this type of publication that he ordered the preacher not to enter the donkey in the races anymore.
Next day the headlines read: “BISHOP SCRATCHES PREACHER’S ASS.”
This was too much for the bishop and he ordered the preacher to get rid of the donkey so the preacher decided to give the donkey to a nearby convent.
Next day the paper read: “NUNS HAVE THE BEST ASS IN TOWN.”
The bishop fainted. He instructed the nuns to get rid of the animal so they sold it to a farmer for ten dollars.
Next day the paper read: “NUNS PEDDLE ASS FOR TEN DOLLARS.”
The bishop was buried the next day and the following day the paper read:
“TOO MUCH ASS RESPONSIBLE FOR BISHOP’S DEATH.”
Many thanks, and a big swirl of the hose to EttaRose, who provided the seed of the idea for this joke. (Although her idea was completely different than this one.)
Sunday, March 30, 2008
I came across this picture of Charles Manson in my internet travels today. I think it's a mugshot that appeared in Rolling Stone a long time ago. (It's a pretty famous picture.) If you don't know who Charles Manson is, then so much the better for you. Anyway, the picture was taken while he was still a mile high on a really swell LSD trip. It is strangely interesting to see a picture taken just at the exact moment when the person's brain stem loses neural communication with their spinal cord. So blank. So in their own little world.
I have no idea what prompted me to bring up a silly subject like "blank stares of deeply intoxicated people." Strange. Oh, well, back to the slang research.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
I still like to peruse Australian blogs, even though I have pretty much given up finding an Aussie to participate in my book project. They are mostly into bigger and better things. I love the irreverent humor in some of their blogs, and never cease to be astonished at some of the things they seem to be deeply interested in. Like American politics. Really! Some of those Aussies get downright vicious in who they support to be the next U.S. President. Why? Haven't a clue. But some are really, really, deadly serious about "their" candidate. These people know a lot more about the candidates than this (or most, I would think) Americans know. Most Americans have realized a long time ago that it really doesn't matter who wins; they will inevitably continue to get shat upon no matter who wins. Maybe the Aussies still have hope. Who knows.
Another reason that I felt Aussies were not being attracted to my blog was Max's foul mouth. I have been trying to do something positive about this, but I find the only way I am ever going to be successful in that regard is to simply kill Max off. I find that when I write like I am writing now, Max has left the building. It is simply boring ol' Tom left in here. No profane inspiration in Tom's real personality. Max! Get back in here! They're leaving!
But no, I don't think the profanity is what keeps the Aussies away. If anything, Max doesn't get down and dirty ENOUGH--you should READ some of those Aussie blogs! And those are just the ones the lady schoolteachers write. Following is an example of a recipe for an omelette I "extracted" from an Aussie blog the other day. I wish I could give some link love, but I visited so many blogs I have forgotten which one I stole it from. If I see it again in my travels, I will come back here and give them proper credit.
(Warning: Aussie humor is not cutesy double-entendre.)
Recipe for Australian omelette:
2 fucking eggs
some fucking salt and pepper
1 fucking knob (?) of fucking butter
Heat the fucking butter in a fucking omelette pan.
Fucking break the fucking eggs into a fucking bowl.
Fucking whisk the fuckers and add some fucking salt and fucking pepper to taste.
When the fucking butter is hot, add the fucking mixture to the pan.
When cooked, take the fucking thing out.
Eat the fucker.
Ah yes. And you wonder why we refer to it as "down under."
Friday, March 28, 2008
If we were to sum up our findings thus far, I think we would find two categories of words. First, there are words the British use which are entirely foreign to Americans. These are mostly the kinds of words and phrases we have been talking about and making jokes about so far. But there is also a second category, which we haven't been talking about much, and that is those words which we both understand and use, but which we use them to mean different things. To make it even more interesting, sometimes the word might mean something bad or vulgar to one party, and rather innocent to the other. I have especially found several words that are commonly used by Americans, which would be quite nasty to the British.
I can't think of a better example of the first type than the word "bloody." Used in the UK as a mild-to-forceful expletive; used a lot, actually. Americans also use that word, of course, but it is almost always to describe how a bad wound might look. An American using the word in the same manner as the British would be perceived as trying to put on false airs, or affecting a non-genuine manner of speaking. Such an American, if he persisted, would very likely soon be beaten bloody. In other words, if you use the word "bloody" in regular conversation in America, you damn well better have a British accent to go with it. Else you will be extremely annoying.
Then there are the "deliciously different" meanings. Unlike "bloody", there are some words that Americans need to be cautioned against using when visiting the UK. An example that comes to mind was given to me by O My Word Blog in an email not long ago. She said she was cautioned by her husband, when they moved to Europe, not to stand up after eating a big meal and say, "I'm stuffed!"
Humorous examples abound in that "American2English" dictionary that Grumpus mentioned in a comment not long ago. One that I found really funny was the story of an American woman who moved to Britain and was interviewing for a job. She was told by the receptionist to have a seat and wait, because "The boss is outside blowing a fag right now." Brits reading this will simply shrug their shoulders; Americans will be rolling on the floor (at least mentally.)
Who can think of some more? (I have purposely left out the word "fanny.")
And--by the way--who else besides myself would like to see another story by Claire? Only this time, let her pick her own words to teach us backward Americans. What do you say? Let's all get together and twist her arm!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I was getting ready for a night out on the tiles, adjusting my boobs in the mirror whilst wondering if I looked to much like a slapper. Surely there is no such thing as too much cleavage?
There was a noise outside so I looked out the window and saw an old man having a wank in the bushes, dirty bugger!
I must look like a right slag if I am having that affect on the elderly, should I get changed? No way!
Once I arrived at the pub there was not much talent about, just that weird looking fella who always looks like a ponce in that ruddy awful pink shirt and gold medallion. I hope no one ever finds out about me snogging him last Christmas, I had consumed more than one sherbet that night.
As the night wore on I was whingeing to my mates that the only half decent looking bloke in the place was that wanker from last week who made a total pratt of himself dancing with his todger between his legs and singing to ABBA and the one that was currently being a total wally by drinking his own sick for a tenner.
So what is a girl to do?
This is a totally true story, I would never take the piss out of you or anyone else by posting a pack of lies.
I would appreciate any definitions and background info anyone could give on these.
If any of these are too vulgar, I apologize in advance.
taking the piss out of you (from input so far, I'm going to say this more or less translates into "American" as: having a bit of sport with someone at that person's expense; taking someone down a peg or two; taking the wind out of someone's sails. Along those lines.) Americans also refer to an overly exuberant person as "being full of piss and vinegar". Don't know about the vinegar part, but the other may be related to this.
slapper (So, we'll say this would loosely translate into the "American" as--I don't know--slut seems too harsh for this word. Tease? Chippie? Well, I'll just leave it at "woman of questional virtue" for now.)
pratt (So we're agreed that "pratt" is the description of a clumsy fall?--Ass over elbows as the Americans would put it? Could the word also refer to a person who seemed to be abnormally clumsy in general?--what Americans would probably call a "klutz"? Which itself, I guess, is probably Yiddish.) In "Americanese" by the way, "pratt" would only be used to describe an intentional fall by a rather acrobatic person for comedic effect. I've neve heard it used otherwise in America.
whingeing (I think)
Also, another British euphemism captured my imagination the other night as I was preparing an earlier post for this blog: to "Bang one out." as in "Steve watched Bay Watch on TV and then banged one out before his mum came home."
And it struck me that this might not be the ONLY British euphemism for this sort of activity. Are there any other sly, double-entendre words or phrases which might also capture the spirit of what Steve was doing? Mind you, I still haven't received any definitions on this one from anyone yet, so I assume Steve was doing something with a hammer that he felt would annoy his mother. Am I close?
Monday, March 24, 2008
Blimey! Bloody Hell! Shag! Yeah, I know as much British slang as Austin Powers taught me over the years. It seems that the Beckhams are adding another job to their long list of To Do’s since coming to America. Tom Cruise has reportedly become fascinated by Victoria’s array of British slang and is quite keen on learning.
Well. Isn't that just precious. Tom Cruise. Katy. TomKat. Ever so keen on the way Posh Beckham speaks.
Well, tough titties, 'cause Max STILL wants to learn. Despite now having to carry that mental image around from now on. It is to barf, que no?
Really--isn't that information just the shits? Here I am, honorably and sincerely searching for the holy grail of the golden lingo of my forefathers, and along comes this rich Hollywood dork who thinks it's....cute. CUTE! FeckinIdiot. Thinks he's hot shit because he knows what "shag" means. Christ. Claire taught me that one the very first day. More or less. It's a goddam bird.
By the way, thank you to imnotobsessed.com for the pic. You don't know I took it, but thanks. Now tell us where YOU stole it from.
But the comments to the above post is where I learned several new words. There's something like 34 comments to that silly post about Tom Cruise, and I am currently busy kiping (that's Spanglish for "making off with") as many of the words as I deem cool enough to grace our book. That's because I want REAL words, from REAL British mouths, not this Austin Powers crap. And, slowly I am building a stockpile of words for you to translate for me.
I did read one thing that sort of got me knickers bunched, though. One haughty Brit--who really could use a good ass-kicking, by the way--commented: "[Americans] should understand that British slang spoken with an American accent makes you sound like an utter wanker."
Isn't that absurd? No American I can think of speaks with an accent. It's YOU blokes and blokettes that talk funny.
If you want to go actually read the comments for yourself while simultaneously basking in the glow that is Tom Cruise and Victoria Beckham, here it is. Knock yourself out. I've already stolen all the good words, though.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win! Magpies Win!
Howay the Lads!
No, "Magpies Win!" is not an oxymoron. Not anymore, at least!
Ok, I admit that the round ball is still foreign to this poorly educated American, and that I still have the impulse to pick it up and run with it. Round balls are for hitting with baseball bats or stuffing in baskets. But I am honestly trying...
Saturday, March 22, 2008
I feel like I have already written a book about British slang in the past two weeks! I have words coming out of my ears. My brain is slowly deflating, like a football. An American-shaped football. I am starting to feel like my honored inestimable leader, Dubya.
Oh, Eleanor! Where is your husband when we need him?
In addition to simply including an index or list of selected examples of humorous British slang and euphemisms, as fully outlined in the lengthy previous post, of course we will also want to include a continuing narrative in the book itself, that brings all this together and makes our project a writing project instead of just another book of lists.
We want to take a British saying, such as "bugger this for a game of soldiers", and talk about it in some sort of "story" fashion. Like writing a post about it, I would guess. Maybe we could make these "posts" or short stories be the actual "chapters" or sections of the book. Lists of examples, as described in the previous post, could simply be sprinkled in, or be in sidebars throughout the book, or whatever works. I've even toyed with the idea (and you probably have as well) of even including edited versions of some of our actual comment threads. Looking back, some of them are very funny. I think other people would think some of our conversations were funny, too (almost like "intruding" into someone's private diary. Who wouldn't like to do that?) Well, that may be straying too far afield, perhaps. But maybe not. Some of it could be included within a larger chapter, perhaps.
So, don't think we aren't going to write. Here is where people like Linda can shine by turning an American-written chapter/post into a delightfully british-sounding post (to an American, at least) which would be so outrageously incomprehensible to an American reader that it would absolutely have to then be translated into "American" for them. I think what Linda does is hilarious. (And if Max thinks it's hilarious, it gets to go into the book. After we vote, of course.) And Aerten, we need art, and magpieszone, we need design ideas. And we need analysis and we need to be brought down to earth sometimes. And A., and Alison, we need more examples from well-traveled, well read people. If Catherine should choose to return, her insight and critical thinking would be invaluable to us. And Claire, we need somebody to make us lighten up and bring us up off the earth from time to time. Nobody can do that like you. And, m'Lord, we need that heavy dose of irreverence and, yes, bawdy double-entendere. The kind of stuff you can do is universally funny. You are our male equivalent of Linda, only slime-like. No offense, Lord.
And so on with every single one of you. Editing. Writing. Analysis. Translation. You are all so very talented. Stick with me here.
In addition to constantly asking you and everyone else I meet to give me examples of interesting British slang and British euphemisms, I have of course been independently scouring blogs and online reference materials on my own. In the beginning I had no real vision of the specific categories of slang I wanted to collect--anything and everything was fine by me. But I did want it to be funny. Or at least interesting. Or somehow curious.
There have been many words and phrases that I have come across that are clever. But I am finding that "clever" is apparently not the precise criterion for the book I envison. I just realized that. Cockney rhyming slang is clever. To some, at least. But that's not the book I want to write.
Being an American male who is anticipating marketing a product to (probably) mostly American males, I have made myself stop and ask the obvious question: "What do I myself find interesting and humorous?" The answer is important because I myself represent the target audience. More specifically I must ask, "What would I pick up and buy if I saw it staring back at me from a shelf at my local bookstore?"
I am beginning to see a pattern here. At the same time, I am starting to see why it is so difficult for you to offer me suggestions. This difficulty stems from the fact that not only are we separated by a common language, we are also separated by two very divergent cultures in general. By that I don't mean to imply that we don't have common roots; we do--in many, many areas. But we have, over many years, grown very much apart in many cultural aspects. It is becoming more and more plain to me that one of those cultural aspects is humor.
Did we ever have humor in common? Truly? I don't know. What I seem to be hearing from the British is that American humor is direct and coarse and doesn't make one think at all. On the other hand, what I am personally seeing in British humor is that witty-ness and cleverness is more prized; one is supposed to have to think before he "gets" the joke. In other words, it goes back to that Alan King story I was talking about yesterday. ("British humor is very instructive. It makes you think. It is very, very witty. It is incredibly cerebral. It is ever so clever. It just isn’t fucking funny.”)
Why am I bringing this up again? Because what I as an American thinks is funny defines the kinds of British slang and euphemisms I want to collect and write about.
Many of the things that you have shared with me over the past couple of weeks have been ever so clever and interesting. I especially liked, for whatever reason, things like "knackered" and "bugger this for a game of soldiers." Even though neither will make an American audience drop to their knees holding their sides or make tears run down their faces; they are still humorous enough to make it into said "An American's Tongue-In-Cheek Guidebook to British Slang." If there is one point that I would like to communicate with this post, it is the point that MUCH of your slang WOULD make an American laugh. Not chuckle. Not titter. Not cluck. LAUGH. Frankly, that probably wouldn't include "bollocks" (although, since I personally really like that one, it would almost surely make it into such a book), and it probably wouldn't include Brass Monkeys and/or their brass balls. That's clever. It made me chuckle. I'm not looking to chuckle. I'm looking to laugh out loud so that the other bookstore patrons will look over at me disapprovingly.
So, today and for the next few days, I hope you will allow me to gently steer you in the right direction by giving you some examples of British slang that an American male would think are funny. You will quickly get the idea and you will quickly come to understand the criteria. Happily, there is really only one criterion: the material must be outrageously off-color. See? That wasn't hard, was it? No oblique references, none of those cutesy ever-present double entendres. Just say something like, "There was an old woman who lived in a shoe, who had so many children her cunt fell off." That's all. Only say it using those unfamiliar British words, like "Mimsey."
Here I must hasten to remind you that I am speaking only of the American male of the species. American females won't buy this book, probably--at least not in as large numbers as men. Their men will buy it and, when they bring it home, the ladies will read it. They will read it and they will roll their eyes up to the ceiling and they will shake their heads. And they will say, "This is terrible!" "This is disgusting!" Because that's what American women do, by and large.
So if you understand clearly that our target audience is the younger, reasonably-affluent, book-buying American male, then we have come to a real understanding. Because we suddenly see our common bond: young American males and young British males both enjoy vulgar humor and shocking potty talk. That's all. We've never really grown up. We're still in school with our buddies. So, once we know what we are searching for, of course that search will become easier.
Let me turn aside one last time and quicky add that I am not looking for pure gutter talk and filth here. Absolutely not. I do not want vile words just for the sake of shock value. I am very overly guilty of that kind of thing in my own writing, and that is NOT the kind of thing I want included in this book. But outrageous British euphemisms for those various acts and deeds? Absolutely!
Have we had a meeting of the minds, finally? I have only last evening clarified my own thinking. I was going through page after page of (a rather boring but very comprehensive) compendium of British slang last night. And out of over a hundred examples found on the first few pages, there were only about seven or eight that I thought, "That's cool! That's funny! An American would snicker at that and read it to his buddy at the office." To make it even easier, I quickly found that all these "good" examples fell into the same general category: they had direct American equivalents, and they were mostly concerning your basic bodily functions, or various sexual acts, or words which describe people who were somehow "different" than the rest of us. Why is that funny to males of most nationalities? If you have to ask, you're not a male. I say that because the real answer is, "I don't know."
But that's what we're after. And ladies, since you are the very bedrock, reason, purpose, and source of male humor, you simply must stay here in the room with us and inspire us. Please. I'm serious. We can't do this without your feedback. Not in a million years. If men don't think it is hilariously off-color they probably won't laugh out loud. But they also need biofeedback from the ladies: if the ladies don't cluck and shake their heads in (feinted) disgust, and roll those eyes, and tell us how juvenile we are...well how will we know how juvenile we are? You simply must stay with us. Women may not understand why men think certain things are funny, but they damn sure know exactly what those things are. Help us out here.
I am now going to list a few of those terms I extracted from that compendium of British slang that I think are humorous to an American male, and which have definite American equivalents that Americans can quickly relate to.
1. Brit. "Floating an air biscuit." Amer. "Cutting the cheese."
2. Brit. "Arse-bandit." Amer. "Fudge-packer."
3. Brit. "Arse-licker." Amer. "Brown noser."
4. Brit. "Aussie kiss." Amer. No literal equivalent. We just say "eating it" or "going down on her". Nothing nearly as clever as your referral to Australia being "down under."
5. Brit. "Baby batter/baby gravy." Amer. "Jizz. Cream. Load. Scum. and more."
6. Brit. "Bang one out." as in "Steve watched Bay Watch on TV and then banged one out before his mum came home." Amer. (far too many American euphemisms for male masturbation to list here.)
Hello? Hello? Anyone still out there?
Ladies, before you slam the door behind you, let me truthfully inform you that every single example listed above came directly out of the prestigious BBC and PBS compendium of British slang. So sit your lovely behinds back down and let's get to work. Guys and gals, now that you know what we're looking for, it's time to search the back corners of your minds for cute descriptions of various acts, deeds, and natural body functions. "Take a piss" is so mundane. "Take a leak" is even more mundane. So Americans say, "Drain my radiator." "Got to go see a man about a horse." "Tap a kidney." And many more. I'm not saying it HAS to be some sort of bodily function. That's just to get you started.
Let's get at it. Last one to comment is a bag of _________ (what?) And, while you're at it, please don't neglect the most interesting natural bodily function of them all, ok?
[He waits anxiously to see what happens. Will they respond? Will they participate? Or has he finally pushed them over the edge? Perhaps the Aussies will leave. (btw: Austr. "ankle-biter". Amer. "Rug rat.") But I'm betting neither the Americans or British will leave. God, I hope not! Please, people, make my email dinger go off. Don't leave me hanging here holding my breath...]
Friday, March 21, 2008
As most of you already know, I have been trying to sift all this out as I go along in an effort to evolve a list of words and phrases over time, which itself, hopefully, may evolve into an actual little humorous book.
I want to start trying to also post some of these words right here in this blog as I come across them, to get your professional opinions on them, so to speak. That is, I hope you will chime in and tell me (a) what the word means exactly; (b) whether it is in general use or whether it is pretty specialized or obscure; and (c) whether it is odd or clever or common or (whatever else the qualifications might be) enough to perhaps be a candidate for putting on our "short list" for such a book.
The first word so far today (although it may be a common expression I just haven't ever come across in my sheltered life) is "brazilians", provided by a post from Marmelade in her comment to the previous post. (Today, btw, I am putting my punctuation outside the punctuation marks. At least on this blog."--except when it is SUPPOSED to be inside, British Style, as right here.) :) I have also resolved to inundate you with smiley face emoticons to try and counterbalance my smartass American comments. :) :) :)
Another word I want to put on today's list is the word "pants", which I picked up for the first time on another website. Ok, it was on Claire's blog. It was in the context of "weather being disappointing bad". Claire herself, I think, is off on some sort of adventure today, so we may not have the benefit of her delightful input on this. I'm hoping one or more of the rest of you might explain to these poor American ears what the hell pants have to do with the weather.
And, as is the usual case, in my perusal of my reference books on these things, I am left more confused than edified. For example, with regard to (bad) weather, have any of you ever heard a British expression which includes the term "Brass Monkey"? If the delightful Candy happens to read this, she will be amused that it refers to yet another animal's nuts.
More on this later. Good morning, by the way.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I was in the midst of preparing a post for this morning with a subject of Cockney Rhyming Slang, but there seems to be an interesting thread starting on the new "work area" blog, as I was afraid it might, that I need to quickly bring over here to our public blog before it fully develops, so everyone can give input. I sense it is the beginning of an important new aspect, or division, of what I am trying to discover here. At least this poor sheltered American has never heard of the word "Geordie" before. And, since the work blog is intended only for "storage and arrangement" of actual words and phrases (and the posting of pictures of mostly naked young men, apparently) I am quickly making the transfer of this possible new thread:
I'm Here :)
Hiya, what's up lads and lasses? ahm heor te answer the canny invitation frem Max, he is truly awesome lad and was the first mate that I've been so close from the net.
I hope that I can keep amuse him with my articles :)
Up the Toon!!! Howay the lads!!!
POSTED BY SHEARYAD
relax max said...
One more thing. Sorry to keep bothering you, but...
I think the way you talk is ever so cool--I love it! But please help these poor ignorant American ears--it's Scottish, right? Or.....?
relax max said...
relax max said...
None of the above?
Max, you appear to be talking to yourself - take a breath!
He is speaking Geordie or trying to :)
North East of England.
Yes, "Up the Toon" gives it away :) Geordie it is, spoken only in Newcastle upon Tyne in the north east of England (not in Scotland and not to be confused with Newcastle under Lyme, as I tried to explain to a French journalist the other day).
relax max said...
Thank you everyone. Please note that I am transferring this thread over to the regular blog now so eveyone can see it and get involved with commenting on it instead of just we few. Thank you Eddy! Good ears, Claire and a.a.a.! (So, aaa is what you are to be, then, I guess :)
Please continue commenting and analyzing this Geordie dialect as it is new to Max. Intriguing! Thanks.
Only, let's do it on the main blog, please.
Note to all: Let's make the above conversation be our post for this morning, and simply begin adding to this sprouting little seedling down in the regular comments for THIS post, shall we?
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
I promised Inside Candy a souvenir picture of Max to thank her for stopping by in the wee hours this morning. Max usually keeps his identity a secret from his blog visitors, but Candy was ever so nice. So here you go Candy. Enjoy!
Actually, those who know Max are cracking up right now. Max is really sort of a cross between a fatherly college professor and what he imagines that degenerate Lord Likely likely looks like.
So, I must confess that is not really Max. It's really Yummy Biscuits. He's sitting beside me right now, panting and asking me what I think Candy is really like.
Ok. Ok. One of you out there knows I'm still lying. That is really a picture of Clair's toy that she posted on the new "scholarly" BritSpeak2 yesterday. It is already starting over there. What was I thinking? That she would just come over and start making a list of clever British idioms? How gullible is that?
This boy is not going to stay up on this blog too long. How could he? He will distract from my Floozy when she returns. You will notice he didn't go in the header as some of you had suggested. He will, happily for me, go slowly down, and disappear from view as Max makes further posts. Which Max intends to do very quickly rather than seeing him everytime he opens this blog. PeeYecck!
Yummy has a strangely interested look in his eyes right now as he stares at my computer screen. What an indiscriminate DOG!
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Isn't it amazing how a few hours of sleep can clarify muddy thinking?
I was so sleepy that I was almost falling off my chair, and the words on the monitor screen had become unintelligible. I drifted off completely. The pain of a cat climbing up my leg like a tree brought me quickly back to consciousness. I bolted upright and realized I was still sitting in front of the computer. Several lines of gibberish on the page marked the point where I had dozed off and my body had slumped forward, pressing my hands down hard on the keyboard. It was hopeless. I erased the lines of gibberish and went to bed.
A few hours later, I was awakened by my usual alarm clock walking up and down my back. It was still dark. I shuffled into the next room and saw the glow of the computer as it too came awake from my bumping against the desk. I started reading the long-winded crap that was still on the screen. Surely I hadn't really posted all this in my zombie-like stupor, had I? Why, yes. It seems I had. I began reading more. JesusJosephandMary! Had this REALLY looked good enough to me a few hours ago to post?
And then I saw there was email. An advert and 3 real comments. Because it is sorted by time of receipt, Eddy's was on top. And, once again, the man ("lad" as he says) responsible for causing my original little seedling to take sprout, came to my rescue. In his few short lines, the light came back on in my head. His few words quickly reminded me why I had begun this journey in the first place, and also gently reminded me of why this "joint blog" has been so successful in such a short time. Once again, my friend, I thank you.
1. We don't have to shut down this blog. Why would I want to kill the goose when such golden nuggets are still being laid?
2. We don't need to "enter phase two and get down to business"--we ARE already "down to business" and have been from the very start.
3. We don't have to force ourselves to begin some sort of rigorous research: our book is already writing itself! All we have to do is stand back and let it finish.
With a few innocent comments, and the introduction of a wonderfully descriptive new word into my little world, my new friend has made that light go back on in my head: the book is already being written. Wittily, cleverly, interestingly. Naturally. All we have to do is stand back and watch it grow. Nothing is wrong. It simply isn't finished yet.
No, Eddy. We don't have to artificially think up words and make big lists. It is I who has been the twoncker. (Gosh, I hope that means "thick-headed"! If not, then that's what I've been anyway.) What we need to do is throw away them 'ol starchy, stifling rules and let our baby grow. Our job is to nourish it and encourage it, not put it in a strait jacket.
If we build it, they will come. That's all. As the unimaginably inarticulate Lyndon Johnson said as he assumed the presidency upon the death of John Kennedy--"Muh fella 'Mericans, lettuce continyah." And so we shall.
And one more thing: The Floozy shall return. In a more modest condition perhaps. But Eleanor and Margaret can never provide the same inspiration. Look what almost happened when I abandoned The Floozy! Look how serious I got with Eleanor and Maggie staring at me. Sorry, ladies.
Watch that space.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Gasoline prices have just hit $3.24 a gallon in our little town today, and I was just sitting here cussing at the Arabs and their goddam oil anyway, and so, obviously, my next thought was of Trish.
Trish has been a part of our little blog family here for several days now, and it occurs to me that I haven't really embarrassed her nearly to the extent that this classy lady deserves. Hence, this post (as my other webhost would say.)
To refresh your memory (actually, to help you halfway understand what the feck I 'm talking about), I now reprint her original introductory comment:
Hello Max! Thanks for visiting my blog and for the lovely comment.
My husband's parents are both English, and his stepfather was born to English parents living in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Their conversation is peppered with odd little sayings and my husband uses most of them in an ordinary week. Poms would probably find it amusing to hear an Australian man say "bugger this for a game of soldiers" in the same way we find it amusing to hear Americans attempt a "fair dinkum" or "g'day mate." My husband's granny still lives in Yorkshire and she's practically unintelligible to my colonial ears.
There are many differences between The Queen's English and Australian English and I would be happy to add my perspective to this lively discussion.
(we don't really say that)
March 11, 2008 4:08 AM
The operative word in this comment, or at least the one I am trying to decipher today, is "Pom." Yes. She called you Poms.
I didn't say anything at first because, well, naturally I thought it was simply another putdown of Americans. I mean, why should Trish be any different than the rest of the planet? But since I am so mentally swift, I, four days later, have decided to look the word up in the dictionary on the outside chance it is really a dictionary-type word. Turns out it is.
The first attempt didn't help much. In it's typical helpful manner, my American dictionary edified me: "Pom. Noun. Short for Pommy."
I don't want to digress here, because this post is going to probably end up being too long as usual, but why can't those stupid academic pricks just give me the definition on the same page instead of making me leaf through more pages? Are they hoping I will spy another word somewhere in between Pom and Pommy that will draw my attention and make me buy something from them? It's almost like these clowns who put their entrecard down at the bottom of their three-mile-long page, which has already taken eleven minutes to load due to all their clever overlays, video snippets, and MP3 files, which, of course, have all opened automatically. Thanks guys. Since I have been on your page so long now, I will surely click on a few of your ads and buy something from one of your affiliates. For sure. Nudge nudge, wink wink.
By the way, since I have already blown my intention for a rare short post (so what the fuck, eh?) let me point out that Google's automatic spellchecker on Blogspot has just informed me that there is no such word as "Pommy." Then why is in the dictionary, dolts? Why don't you spend a few of those GoogleDollars and update your spellchecker program once every couple of decades? Thanks. Poetically, "Blogspot" is not in Google's dictionary either.
If there are a few of you left who are still reading this (leaving out Claire, of course, whose attention span is not nearly long enough to be still mucking around in a post this far down, unless it is about one of her special interests, like making sausages or something like that) let me return to the subject at hand. (Now what was that again? Ah, yes. Embarrassing the classy Trish.)
Returning to Poms, and the teaching of unsuspecting Americans obscure slang they will never in their lives use, I find that "Pommy" is (according to my American Dictionary, at least) an: "Austral/NZ informal offensive slang for a British Person, probably derived from the word pomegranate because it nearly rhymes with immigrant."
Horsepucky. First of all, pomegranate doesn't "nearly" rhyme with immigrant. Not even close. Second of all, and I hate to break it to you Trish, but this is sounding more and more like a smug native Austrailian insult to YOUR ancestors, not the Brits who stayed at home in England/Great Britain/The UK/Whatever. Doncha think?
Yes, there's a moral. Stop using it, because it won't annoy the real Brits, and that is our true objective here. Well, perhaps it would annoy Claire, but, then, she's not reading this far down, right?
Christ. I forgot about Trish's mammoth man. Bet he can get a visa, too. Crikey.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Just when I am ready to chuck it all and move on, I stumble across one of your incredibly witty posts, and the inspiration begins to seep back into my blood. You people are fantastic! See if you can guess which of our little group authored this little gem. (I have lots more questions for ______, but I don't yet know her well enough to ask. She gives us clues.
"The best day of skiing I ever had was that time at Thredbo when I went skiing with old school friends, and we stopped for lunch and I had a beer. One beer was the difference between skidding with trepidation and skiing with aplomb. Didn't help my technique one bit, I still looked like a wombat on skis, but I was so much more relaxed and stopped worrying about stuff like anterior cruciate ligament stability. Maybe I need to forget about the gammy hip and get myself a hip flask."
This, as opposed to a geeky flask, I suppose?
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Football fan sites are proving the best, or at least most consistant, source of BritishSpeak for me so far. Here is some more from our friends over at Magpies. Anyone?
If Cashley is just a chancer then he’ll off ski.
Matchdays are shite. (But, then he might have simply meant to type plain old "shit." That would make sense.)
Emre and Viduka I respect, they have just thought fuck this for a game of soilders, but Taylor and Butt and Given and Duff and Owen and many many others. Fecking great!
(I am still waiting for someone to explain that soldier thing to me. Is it really that unspeakably dirty that none of you can bear to do it?)
CHRIST IT JUST HIT ME! It's not soldiers, it's soilders. Feckin' bloomin' idiot, I am! (Still don't understand it, though. Sigh.)
And then there are some things I think I understand, that don't need translating, but which are just so poetic they need to be aired and enjoyed, like 'Liza's father speaking in "My Fair Lady", if you know what I mean (in fact, I think Cockney poetry is going to be the next category added to this blog):
I laugh in the face of humiliation…
the slow dim-witted flabby old beast that is…
(I just now remembered what the elipse key combo is on my mac, so stand back!)
A number of poisons will be lanced and boy do they need lancing!
The crowd are old and bitter and beyond spontaneity or wit.
(This does bring up another question, however. Why do all of you always use use the plural infinitive--in this case "are" instead of "is"--for a singular subject/noun? I've noticed that. You do it all the time. Even Canadians do that. So, obviously it is taught in the British school systems. An American would never write "crowd are." [And here we must digress one step even further and note that Americans are taught, as you probably just noticed, to put their periods and commas inside the quotations marks instead of simply doing it logically like you do.] I realize that a crowd is composed of many people, but we are not talking about about people, we are talking about crowd. One crowd. Singular. As in "not two" crowds. It is not the most important thing any of you will do today, but I am still curious if anyone would care to explain the logic. I may as well learn to write BritSpeak at the same time as I am trying to learn to speak it. That may be one for Catherine. Thanks.)
Again, these are all extracted from today's post at magpieszone.com
I've been hanging out there a lot lately, but it isn't helping much. There's not a single post that I've been able to understand from beginning to end. God, it is just great!
In my posting travels today I came across a reminder on another website about a more serious matter than we usually discuss here. In fact, it is so serious that I had second thoughts about posting this. I am going to anyway.
Remember the homeless this Easter. Feed someone in your own neighborhood. Or make a donation to the Union Gospel Mission's Annual Easter Dinner. They are located in Canada (in British Columbia, I think.) Read more about what they do by visiting their website. You may make a donation directly on their website if you wish.
I won't do this often, I promise. They kind of got to this ugly American.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Hello again, Max!
Well, blow me, you've got me sussed! Now don't I feel like a right Charlie! Ruddy hell!
Actually, a cock up on your part, I never was stationed outside of the good ole' US of A (unless you count New Jersey) but my mum's mum came across the pond via steamer when she was but a young lass of about 9 years old. Also, my mother's father's family hailed from jolly old England but came over and helped settle Connecticut long before there ever was that whole bloody revolution and disloyalty to the king stuff. Suffice it to say that British blood most definitely flows through my veins - or at least DNA!
I never met my grandmother as she died when I was but a wee babe but I probably wouldn't have learned much about the family from her as she wasn't much of a roister doister but rather dour and quiet. For all I know, all of my ancestors were doing porridge for having attempted to nick the Queen's jewels or something! I've been meaning to look up the family genealogy but just haven't had the time what with the whole blogging thing and all.
Anyhow, enough of this or else you'll think I'm off my trolley. I'm going to chivvy off but I shall have to pop by again soon and chat some more.
By the by, because it's the dog's bollocks, I've added your blog to my Reader! Cheers!
March 12, 2008 7:06 PM
relax max said...
Welcome back, Linda. Your reappearance has made me very happy. I was beginning to think you were just a one-shot kind of gal. But you've come twice and I admire that in a lady.
But listen to your talk!--I admit I don't really understand what you said, but I sense you are just ASKING for trouble, aren't you? I usually allow a full two days grace period for new visitors before I mount a full-fledged counterattack. But your kind of talk just won't wait. Besides, you're no real Brit. You're really just a bloody colonial, same as I, Snooty Connecticut abode notwithstanding. So take cover, lass. Let the initial landing-zone bombing begin.
For starters, look tomorrow to have your bold comments posted on the front page for all the world to see. At least all in our little world here. Let's see how your perky sass holds up when I turn those tenth-generation bloodthirsty Brits and Aussies loose on you!
Why do I have the feeling that won't faze you a bit? We'll see. Perhaps they'll leave you be--I put them in their places pretty fairly today. Especially that troublemaker Claire. I doubt we'll be seeing the likes of THAT little fox around here again soon!
March 12, 2008 7:51 PM
Not to change the subject Linda, but is that little Susie--Calvin's 1st grade nemesis--all grown up in your avatar? Or am I seeing things that aren't really there? Are you her? Oh, my, I hope not. I may be in for it.
Thanks for subscribing to my feed. At least I think that's what you said.
1. Toon! Toon! Black and White Army!
2.Theres only one Kevin Keegan….
Theres only one Kevin Keegan!
Sam got the sack. We got Kev back.
Walking in a King Kev wonderland!
3. Newcastle United,
(clap clap clap clap)
newcastle united fc,
your by far the greatest team,
the worlds ever seen.
4. We’ve traveled far and wide,
weve been to merseyside,
but ther is no place where id rather be,
thats in the leazes end,
where geordies never end,
and mackem s**m
they all lie d**d at our feet.
5. We are the Geordies.
The Geordie Bootboys.
Oh we are mental.
Oh we are mad.
We are the loyalist,
football supporters the world has ever had.
6. We are the Geordies,
the Cock O’ The North.
We all hate Sunderland and Boro of course.
We all drink whiskey and Newcastle Brown.
The Geordies boys are in town!
Thanks Eddy! You were my inspiration! And thanks for the writeup at magpieszone.com today. You rock!
Note: Eddy also referred me to fanchants.com for even more incomprehensible audio delights. Here I found, at the top of the page, this disclaimer: WARNING TO NEWCASTLE UNITED FANS: Many Newcastle United chants and songs contain swearing. football songs lyrics may also cause offence...
Turns out you CAN put !!!!!!s in the post title. As usual, don't have a clue why it didn't work before.
I NEED YOUR HELP! REALLY QUICK!!! (By the way, did you know that Blogspot won't let you put exclamation marks in your blog titles? Goddam Google, anyway.)
As is my custom, I am out today dutifully making comments on people's blogs in an effort to slyly shag them to visit this one. I am proud that I thought of doing that, because I don't think anyone else has ever though of doing that yet.
I am trying to simply make polite comments about the things I see on their blogs, BUT IT DOESN'T SEEM TO BE WORKING!!! Since one of the main purposes of OUR blog is to critique each other's word usage, I sure would appreciate it if you would give me some input as to what you think I am doing wrong in my commenting. Please read the following recent example of a real comment I made just a few minutes ago, and give me some constructive criticism. And I mean FAST, or else we're going to be out of business here! (Note the excessive use of exclamation marks. I'm desperate.)
Hello. I was just out dropping entrecards, and I came across your odd little blog. I don't really understand it, but my real purpose of commenting to you is to get you to visit MY blog at britishspeak.blogspot.com so it really doesn't matter if I understand your blog, I guess.
I see by your entrecard information that you are located in Paris, France. And I thought, "How very cool!" I mean, who wouldn't want take the opportunity to make fun of the French, right? But then I saw the other writing on your blog and said, "Boy, that isn't French, is it?" Magyar, you say? Wow. I'm just an American, so please forgive my ignorance of geography, but that's like, umm, Hungary, right?
I think you would fit in nicely with our little new blog, because I notice when you write you include a lot of those extra "u"s in your words. So that's cool. Even if you find the site a little over your head, I hope you will still visit as it will give you a chance to practice your English and work on your slang, too.
So please come. In fact, since you are in Paris, you can come twice, ok? If you do come twice, I will introduce you to our Lord Likely. So please try really hard to come twice. Thank you.
By the way, what did you mean by "eating cheese in the grass"? Is that a secret code? I hope so, because the Brits really seem to get off on that sort of thing.
PS--I clicked on the word "Hozzaszolasok", the one with all the diacritical marks and accents on it. I sure hope that is Hungarian for "comments" or else I am in big trouble.
PPS--are you a boy or a girl?
Now I am going to click on "Hozzaszolas elkuldese" and see what happens.
Well, now I'm off to visit "Black Tennis Pro."
Just got back from "Black Tennis Pros." A pretty cool blog, actually. No, I didn't embarrass myself by trying to make a comment.
Just tried another one. Hope this version works better. If not, well, I think it is the dead of night in Kangarooland anyway. Hope so:
Dear Mrs. Sparrow:
Love your sense of humor. You seem to have all the requirements to audition for our little group at britishspeak.blogspot.com
Which is to say you might just be worldly enough not to be excessively offended by what we do there.
Besides, we are always looking for more Aussies to amuse and abuse. Do come. and see us sometime. Thanks.
Ok, that do come thing is wearing a little thin now. Won't use it again.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
It is half-past midnight in cactus country where I am, so officially it is now the 4th day of this new blog. (I don't know why the date still shows March 11. Must still be before midnight in Googleland. Or else they haven't yet changed their servers to Daylight Savings Time. Whatever. Pretend it says March 12.)
While I am, in general, pleased at what has been happening so far, and so quickly, it is also pretty obvious that some changes need to be made with regard to the vision and direction of the blog. It is already getting out of my control, if ever it really was in my control. I am steering by the wake, as it were. I am not unhappy that you are taking control from me, but I do crave some sort of purpose and direction.
This blog was started rather on the spur of the moment when I was out entrecruising (as I call it) and noticed that I kept coming across very interesting and very literate blogs which all seemed to be located in the vast territories of the former British Empire. I kept reading interesting stuff, but soon realized I didn’t really understand as much of it as I would have liked. Indeed we are truly separated by this common language we share. I would stare at the words. The words were obviously English words. English is my native language (honestly). So why wasn’t I understanding the nuances of these posts?
I happened to be trying to read the football commentary on magpieszone.com when the spark of the idea for this blog entered my head.
I still believe in the validity of the basic premise, but at the same time it is becoming obvious that some changes--course corrections--need to be made. I hadn’t thought the blog concept through deeply enough. We are adrift. There have been bright spots, of course: For one thing, I hadn’t anticipated that proper British ladies would so love to bully unsuspecting American men. I love it. But that’s not what I am really talking about.
My general vague plan on day one of this blog was for me to continue roaming the internet and harvesting examples that I truly didn’t understand, and then bring those examples to your attention. Then you would translate for me, in a helpful and friendly manner, and, gosh, what a fine time we all would have. Ha.
The first thing that I quickly realized was that there was really no need for my inept “harvesting”, and I found out even faster that I wasn’t very good at it anyway. I mean, not knowing what the words meant, how was I to know if what I was choosing was interesting to you, the audience; whether it was mundane, or whether it was a real nugget to be examined and savered until all the marrow had been delightfully sucked out.
The second thing I quickly learned was that while American humor is direct and hits you right in the gut fast and hard, British humor is much more subtle. You lean toward nuances, comparisons, stories, and, of course, you are masters at metaphor and the fine art of the double entendre.
Perhaps the differences between American and British humor are best explained by this rather tidy summation which was given by the late great American commedian Alan King (whose picture appears at the head of this post.) I saw this on HBO many years ago. Mr. King had been invited to a student comedy competition at a famous school in Britain. Cambridge, I think. It was the kind of competition where the two sides each sit on one side of the small autditorium, and the audience would move to seats on the other side of the aisle whenever they were swayed by the comedic prowess of the speakers, who took turns. I remember that Mr. King spoke first to the very bright young British audience. His words summed up very succinctly the point I am grasping to make here.
“I love British humor.” he began. “It is very instructive. It makes you think. It is very, very witty. It is incredibly cerebral. It is ever so clever. It just isn’t fucking funny.”
I am going to, in the main, stop my feeble attempts to harvest what I think to be interesting tidbits of unusual examples of the British vernacular. Instead, I am going to let the experts do that. The experts know the territory. The experts don’t stumble around like I do.
You are the experts.
Have at it. I can’t hold a candle to you, anyway. I am a babe in the woods, compared to you. Just let me moderate. Let me make commentary. Let me ask questions. Teach me about the real English language; the one that is still so very much alive and vibrant in your country’s ethnic subdivisions and neighborhoods; the language of my ancestors. Listening in on your talk among (amongst) yourselves, it is obvious you have no clue as to the incredible treasure you have inherited. Having grown up with it, you take it for granted. Time and distance has slowly alienated Americans (and, sadly, to a great extent, Canadians) from this birthright, little by little, over the years.
But I want to do more than try and learn to understand English. I want also to feel free to ask you questions about other things (besides language differences) I (and other Americans) have long been curious about but were afraid to ask. Or had no one to ask. Since I am far away and you can’t just reach out and slap me for asking stupid questions, let me give you an example of an American stupid question:
Just what exactly does being British mean, anyway?
I mean, you have your English, your Scots, your welsh, your Irish. But what is being British, exactly? Any random combination of the above? Hardly, I suspect. Those might even be fighting words to you. Hell, I don’t know. You have England. You have Britain. You have Great Britain. You have the UK (which I know is supposed to be followed by the words, “of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” Please bear with me. It has been many years since this stuff was crammed into my head as a 10-year-old in rural Michigan. I know about England and I know about Scotland. I know about at least one Act of Union. I don’t think there was actually an Act of Union when you got Wales so long ago. I think you just went and took it one afternoon. I know that what is now independent Ireland is no longer under British rule, although I don’t have a clue about the circumstances of the separation.
You see? There is much more fodder for this blog than simply teaching me real English (although that is still the biggest reason for this blog’s existance.) It seems to me that the enlightment of Americans' rather poor understanding of (some of) their ancestor’s culture, without restriction to only the language part of it, is a worthy purpose as well, and it occurs to me that this blog can serve as a vehicle to that worthy purpose. Talk about a run-on sentence, eh? No, I haven’t been drinking. It just strikes me as a good idea. Potential for more intellectual abuse by the ladies, as it were. Because, like it or not, with regard to knowing about their roots, Americans, in general at least, are dumber than stumps. Whatever you tell us, we’ll believe. It could be great sport for you.
So let’s begin our 4th day together with that new premise. No more restrictions as to subject matter. You talk, I’ll ask questions and make dumbass uninformed comments. It’ll be fun. You’ll see.
Start with the one I have already posed. What the hell, truly, is “British” anyway? Or what do you think it is? And don’t toy with me. Or do toy with me. Whatever.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
THIS WAS MY VERY FIRST BRITISHSPEAK POST. IT RAN AT 11:45 AM ON MARCH 9, 2008. MARCH 9, INCIDENTALLY, IS MY WEDDING ANNIVERSARY.
Opening comment, in order to save needless vicious emails:
Yes, I already know that you call it "football" if you don't live in the USA. But thanks.
Stumbled upon (and fell down over) this post at: http://www.magpieszone.com
Posted there by/on: March 8th, 2008 by shearyadi
Excerpt in question:
Newcastle Team Scores:
Beye: Looks bewildered.
Enrique: Looks lost.
Taylor: Slowly breaking apart.
Faye: Head goes down.
Butt: Fucking dreadful.
N’Zogbia: Already at Spurs.
Martins: A bit of hope.
Dumbass American questions about Britishspeak:
I think I know what "Fucking dreadful" means. But what the fuck does "Knackered" mean? And "Already at Spurs"?
Posted by Relax Max at 11:45 AM
Saturday, March 8, 2008
It has been a fine, fun, interesting journey.
I expected it to take 3 months to collect those special words for my book, but it hasn't taken that long.
As I start today to concentrate on writing, behind the scenes, instead of actively blogging, I want to thank all of you who have contributed so much to this project over the past weeks. You have all been wonderful!
I would like to take some time to run some of my early posts, which appeared before I got to know any of you. It seems strange, because many of you have become like old friends since then! I will also be running some "profile" posts from time to time, of some of the interesting people I have been so lucky to meet over the past couple of months. I hope you will still drop by from time to time.
From each of these posts I have dutifully extracted the words and phrases that seemed "foreign" to me as an American. To these I have added the lists of words that you gave me on purpose.
Now all that remains is to put all this into book form, to describe the fun I've had, and to present, as best I can, the wonderful English words used around the world that Americans are so oblivious of.
That, I suppose is MY problem, now.