Monday, April 7, 2008

New words, anyone?

Max is looking for contributions of British slang or phrases, please. You would really be doing me a favor if you would make a comment to this post and list your interesting words (and meanings, too--most are not obvious to Max, I'm afraid.) The book on the subject that some of us are putting together concentrates on usage in the UK itself, but Max really welcomes contributions from any country and anyone. And THANKS A LOT!

BY THE WAY...Max realizes that your language is spoken in many more countries than the flags in the above picture represent--he just didn't have enough space for ALL of them! Don't let the lack of a flag in the picture stop you from commenting! (Or Max will find a way to track you back to your own blog and make life miserable for you until you post a comment here!)

Orig. 4/7/08 12:25 AM


  1. You got these??

    tjoon you
    sommer net so
    tjek you!

    Too early though to think about this...

  2. "tjoon you?" hehe. These are great! I think I sense a little drifting off the ol' English here, though, what?

    Don't leave us hanging like this! Help!

    Some pronouciations and usage though, when you get some time, ok? :) :) :)


  3. "pronunciations"? Yeah. That looks better. :)

  4. Two South Africanisms I often use are:

    Kak (pronounced: cuck), which I use to indicate that (a) something is crappy or that something sucks; and (b) my own version and most common use of the word is in conjunction with 'luck' - i.e. kak-luck (which rhymes when you pronounce it properly). It means that nothing ever goes my way... and that no matter how bad I may think things presently are, they can always get worse... as in 'I have such kak-luck.' (Kak is Afrikaans word for shit or pooh - I think... because I don't actually speak Afrikaans myself).

    Howzit? (pronounced: how-zit), which is a common SA greeting used instead of saying 'Hello, how are you?'.

    I think I shall post a longer list of these on my blog... what say you Max-i-moo?

    PS: I deleted previous comment because blogger still doesn't allow a person to fix typos in their comments... gawd!

  5. Candy, thanks for the words. And what a good idea. We will be watching your blog to see what you come up with. I have to speak for Max because Max is out, as usual, visiting blogs and people and collecting new words, and slowly writing his book. Besides, you know how excited Max gets when Candy is around, so it's for the best!


  6. Hello there, Max just left a delightful comment on my blog, so here I am, ready, willing and able to help with Australian slang. Not 100% on how I should go about this, so I might just start a post on my blog and see what my readers and I can come up with, if that sounds ok to you!

  7. Hi Justine! Wow--would you do that please? We can't trust Max to recognize good words anymore. We'll make him stop by your blog every day and see what your readers have come up with! (But Justine, you yourself will have to stop by THIS blog a minimum of 5 times a day, ok? Please?)

    Thanks again for stopping by. We think this may be our big break for that special Aussie brand of English.

    PS--be very glad Max wasn't here. He isn't NEARLY as respectful as he sounds in his comments. Be warned. :)

  8. OK. I was also pointed in this direction by Max. But alas, I have no words to add that hasn't been covered here already.

    I will however be back as soon as I come up with something.

    BTW - You will note that a lot of the South African English slang words are derived from Afrikaans (eg. Lekker). There are also some words derived from African Languages like Zulu. One word often used that springs to mind being "Haiwenna". For more visit Bridget on of our fellow Saffa Bloggers on the following post:
    Zulufication of South African English

    Ok. Enough rambling from me.

  9. Thanks, glugster. (And thanks for the cleavage pics that got ol' Max's motor running this morning!)

    You sure don't waste any time! Thanks for stopping by. Then again, with those dang power outages you are enduring, you may have had nothing better to do than visit. :)

    I'll follow up on your suggestions for source material, and also will keep badgering you personally. :) Thanks again, my friend.

    PS-Well. I guess the "cat's out of the bag" so to speak, about my becauseIcan fabrication...

  10. From my new Aussie (Ozzie, btw) mentor Justine, comes the following on her blog today:

    Aussie - pronounced Ozzie, not Orssie as most Americans say! Hopefully this one is self explanatory.
    Built Like A Brick Shithouse - a big strong bloke
    Cactus - dead or not working, ie “my microwave is cactus”
    Heaps - a lot, ie “thanks heaps”… I never knew this was Aussie slang til I went overseas and had this pointed out to me
    Tall Poppy Syndrome - Australian’s tendency to criticise successful people
    Pot - 285ml glass of beer in Victoria (and I think maybe QLD too?), it’s called a “Middy” in NSW.
    Wagging - to truant, ie “I’m wagging school today”

  11. And also 3 more that I stole from Justine's very interesting writings earlier:


    And, of course we Americans know what a brick shithouse REALLY refers to. ;) And it's not a bloke.

  12. Whenever I get stuck trying to communicate with my american co-workers and friends, i refer to this site

    It comes in very useful.

    My latest confused look came today when I was talking about my TV packing in at the weekend.

  13. Ok Max, This is a long list and like you I stole them. :)
    C of E - The Church of England. Our official protestant church - of which the Queen is the head.

    Camp - Someone who displays effeminate or gay behaviour is somewhat camp. And to "camp it up" would be to dress in drag.

    Cheesed off - This is a polite way of saying you are pissed off with something.

    Chinese Whispers - This a good one. It refers to the way a story gets changed as is passes from one person to the next so that the end result may be completely different from what was originally said. Sound familiar?

    Cobblers - I have heard people say "what a load of cobblers" more than once. Maybe that's because I talk so much rubbish. An equivalent would be what a load of bollocks. It means you are talking out of your butt and has nothing to do with any kind of dessert! Derived from the cockney rhyming slang where Cobblers Awls = Balls!

    Cock up - A cock up means you have made a mistake. It has nothing to do with parts of the male body.

    Cor - You'll often hear a Brit say "cor"! It is another one of those expressions of surprise that we seem to have so many of. It will sometimes be lengthened to "cor blimey" or "cor love a duck", depending on where you are. "Cor blimey" is a variation of "Gawd Blimey" or "Gor Blimey". They are all a corruption of the oath "God Blind Me".

    Fagged - If you are too lazy or tired to do something you could say "I can't be fagged". It means you can't be Bothered.
    Fagging - Fagging is the practice of making new boys at boarding schools into slaves for the older boys. If you are fagging for an older boy you might find yourself running his bath, cleaning his shoes or performing more undesirable tasks.
    Fancy - If you fancy something then it means you desire it. There are two basic forms in common use - food and people. If you fancy a cake for example it means you like the look of it and you want to eat it. If you see someone of (hopefully) the opposite sex then you might fancy them if you liked the look of them and wanted to get to know them a little better!!!
    Fanny - This is the word for a woman's front bits! One doesn't normally talk about anyone's fanny as it is a bit rude. You certainly don't have a fanny pack, or smack people on their fannys - you would get arrested for that! Careful use of this word in the UK is advised!
    Fanny around - I'm always telling people to stop fannying around and get on with it. It means to procrastinate.

    Have fun

  14. Why thanks ettarose. Wow! You have put in some time on these and Max appreciates it. This is great! I was reading the list and when I came to the fag one, I think that must also be what they mean when they say "I can't be arsed." At least I think so.

    Thank you again for that work. Even if you stole it somewhere, you still had to find it first and then take the trouble of copying it. We're getting quite a collection, aren't we?

  15. I got more Max. I will send them a few at a time. Ok? Love ya

  16. One common english/british phrase that seems to throw most visitors is


    Cheers can mean :
    a general wishing of good health and well being,

    I think it shares something with Ciao the Italian phrase which can mean hello, goodbye etc..

  17. Thanks Sage. I had heard that word used a lot and had made general assumptions about what it probably meant, without knowing for sure. (Now I know for sure! :)

    Interesting also is the fact that (as you no doubt know) that word is most often used in America only as a kind of "to your health" sort of thing just before you take a drink to something, as a toast.

    Hope your day went well. :)

  18. In South Africa we use the word:

    "robot" - instead of your word - "traffic light"

    The phrase: "You have guts" which means "You are brave"

    I will try and think of some more and send them later.

  19. Frostygirl, thank you. I have never heard the referred to as robots before. I will make note of that. The guts thing is the same in America btw.

    See if you think of some more for me!

    I love your blog, btw. I will be peeking in the window often, over your shoulder. Teach me. :)

  20. Hi Max

    the men in SA refer to their girlfriends as "chicks" or "cherry's".

  21. Frostygirl-that's interesting. I presue those are complementary terms right? I mean, the chicks and the cherries are ok with being called that?

  22. Yes they are both complementary terms here.

  23. Frostygirl-you are too serious. I am joking with you frostygirl! (But you knew that.) I am working on some serious questions, btw. Give me time to think them out. :)

  24. "grockle" - used mainly in the South West of England (where there is a lot of coast and countryside so people come for their holidays) to describe a tourist from the rest of the UK.

    i.e. "ugh, look at those grockles in that grockle shop*"

    * a grockle shop sells cheap plastic tat, like souvenir magnets and sticks of rock to the gullible grockles

  25. When my husbands firm was taken over by an American company based in Houston they had to order any equipment they needed through Houston. He put in a requisition for a router (connects a computer to a network - pronounced rooter). Imagine their surprise when a large parcel turned up and on opening it they discovered a router (large drill that puts ridges in wood - pronounced router)this was for a computer software company mark you. It was then they realised that, in those immortal words 'Houston, we got us a problem!' Lets just say its been an interesting learning experience over the last couple of years, on both sides :-)

  26. charmainezoe, thanks so much for your comment. That's funny! Well, it probably wasn't that funny for your husband. :) It is amazing at how different we have become over the years, language-wise. I hope you stop by again.

  27. There are many British slang terms and most of them are regional. For example there are words used in Liverpool that a cockney wouldn't understand (and vice versa).

    For example - some gems from Liverpool (the land of the Scousers):

    "Don't get a cob on" - don't lose your temper.

    "Where's me keks?" - Where are my trousers?

    "Bizzies" - Police

    There is a tangible rivalry between Manchester and Liverpool (the cities are roughly 40 miles apart). Locals here call Liverpudlians "Mickey Mousers" (i.e. "Scousers"). Other gems from Manchester:

    "Angin" - Ugly

    "Nowt" - nothing

    "Bobbins" - Rubbish

    Of course there are millions more ...


  28. I hope you're not thinking of putting out a book that competes with mine??
    Anyway, no one has mentioned two words that Brits say a lot -
    "Knackered" - meaning tired if you're a person, and broken if you're a thing.
    "Dodgy", which means a bit suspicious if you're referring to a person, and very likely to break if you're a thing.

  29. @Expat mum - I was at first. Quickly I changed my mind when I saw how many books of that genre already existed. But you did all right - carved out your niche.

    See... one day I was just reading other blogs at random and I came upon a blog (in Indonesia, actually) that was talking about (association) football, and I didn't understand a lot of it. Turns out he was trying to talk Geordie, but I didn't even know what that was back then. Anyway, I was intrigued enough to try and collect examples of words I didn't understand, and I started BritishSpeak to do that. Naively, I thought that publishing a book on British slang was a novel idea. Ha!

    Anyway, my interest in things British soon enlarged to cover many other subjects than simply slang or interesting British words - although I never changed the name of the blog. I soon found out that British English is worldwide, and I have made friends in Australia and South Africa in my blog travels.

    There is indeed a book in the offing, if I would get off my arse and finish editing it, but the book will be more about cultural differences rather than simply the language part. Somewhat like your book of course, but I intend to go deeper into history and specific regional differences than you did. (Plus, as an American, I am FUNNY! Kidding.) I had no idea the British were so different, "internally", I mean. North vs south for example - I thought the country was too small for that kind of thing. Ha! Little did I know!

    So that is my interest now. History and the "intra"-cultural differences as well as the obvious UK/USA difference. (My mind has been expanded by meeting the British on my blog. :) :)

    Yes, "Knackered" was covered early on. Very early on, along with shag. The bird, I mean...

    One of my first friends I found was Claire. ( and she told me that one could get very knackered from too much shagging. I had no clue and she knew it. You should read her guest posts she did for me about British sex words. Hilarious. And also you should read Lord Likely's guest post. But he is pretty rank, I warn you. (His blog is I think.) Be warned.

    Thank you for your recent input. I hope we don't corrupt you. :) I have learned the British are not NEARLY as reserved as Americans think.

  30. So nobody is using this eh?

    Edinburgh, like everywhere else has words pertaining to the city alone.

    Radge = mad, angry, mentally unsettled Hibernian supporter, daft.

    Barry = good, like it, great.

    Others when (and if) I remember them.



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