Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Huge Rooster Beats Off Hungry Fox

Tidbits gathered from BBC News:

Suffolk County Council formally elects Mark Bee leader.
"In April, Mr. Bee beat off competition from... "

Scotty McCreery wins American Idol.
"... beating off competition... "

Aussie woman, 89, beats off bandit with handbag.
"Used a handbag to beat off a knife-carrying... "

Is it possible the term "beating off" means something different in British than in American?

To put it another way, would you REALLY beat off three guys to save your girl?


  1. To add clarity to the discussion, in british english, the phrase "beat off" is virtually unknown.

    In Archie's situation, had he been speaking english as an englishman, he'd say " beat-up", he would not say "I sure did", nor would he refer to the others as "guys".

    We do, of course, understand the U.S. meaning of the phrase, from our exposure to american books and films, and of course, television. Maybe british kids use that term now.
    Archie was the first cartoon character to have a No.1 hit record in britain, Sugar Sugar, in 1969.

  2. @Soubriquet - Well, I hope you won't hold it against me for posting on a topic this blog was intended for (differences in words and phrases in our two countries and others) although I admit that doesn't happen much any more. In short, this post is spot on, topic-wise. I wasn't trying to say yall have to know American phrases any more than Americans need to know that Shag refers to a fish-eating bird. :)

    Having said that....

    1. My examples came from the BBC and I expect them not only to know British English but to know how to speak it like Englishmen. Another example they gave, which I didn't use, was a story about Pakistani troops beating off the enemy. They didn't say "beat up."

    2. Archie is an American perpetual teen of the 1940s and 1950s, so he seldom speaks English as an Englishman would. I did find it odd that his puppeteer had him say beat off rather than beat up, as an American would normally say. Probably this was not as shocking to me as seeing posts pounded into the sand bottom 50 feet from shore, but odd nevertheless. When one takes the easy way out and uses Google Images for one's posts, one takes what one can get. :)

    3. What would he have said? Blokes? Leches? Cads? Scumbags? Well, whatever, Archie beat them all off.

    4. We don't say "beat off" here on television. We have a bit more class than that. We don't swear on tv or in our movies, either. If you knew what beat off meant in American, you must have picked it up on your own tv. We have a lot of your tv here, but mostly on the channels numbered above 300 so we aren't deluged enough to have to beat it off. Neither do we remember any of your special words. Hence, this blog. :) :)

    5. Not to be picky, but the name of the group was called The Archies. I was too old then to be watching children's Saturday morning tv programs, but I remember the song and have it on my ipod. I even blogged about it recently. If you are interested in the other big songs that year, see my post:

    I forgive you.

  3. Ah, indeed. The BBC shows a sadly deplorable slide in standards.
    Tone and nuance is tricky to get right in written comments. I was in no way snarking at your post, merely expressing my surprise at the implied usage.
    I though you were implying that Archie was here being english....
    and that, in the true traditions of britishspeak, you have again turned up a phrase with very different connotations either side of the atlantic.

    Soubriquet will be winging his way across the ocean in about six weeks time, and will need a crash course in colloquial phrases to avoid. He is planning to tell anyone who asks, that of course he knows the Queen, a dear old lady, he often sees her in the fish and chip shop down the road.

  4. @Soubriquet - I hope I didn't seem defensive. I'm not. With me, it's always a dispassionate detached debate. Well, mostly. I like nuances. I like extras. :) anonymous commentors, however, should simple be beat off.

    Not by me.

  5. I can't give you much advice on what phrases to stay away from. I probably would just let the beat off thing rest while you are here, and not tell large people to kiss your ass. You will be fine. Don't pick any fights on the airplane because if an air marshal shoots you, your trip will be considerably less pleasant from that point. Don't walk on the flag unless you are in San Francisco. Like that.



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