London Lingo

There was a lot of talk before I left about phrases like “bonnet” and “boot” and “bugger.”


Being here, hearing the British lingo, I’ve noticed a few particularly amusing phrases. Some friends and I visited the “Evolving English” exhibit at the British Library just blocks away from our school centre the other day. It was a really neat and fascinating exhibit all about the development of the English language with everything from the original Canterbury Tales to Alice and Wonderland, the Magna Carta to The Beatles. It was fascinating to see how and when and why all the literary and linguistic changes came about. It made my little English major heart so happy to see original manuscripts and hear recordings of James Joyce reading his work. And seeing the development of recent popculture words like “google” as a verb, or “facebook,” in an exhibit like that definitely made me feel my (still young) age.

 

Reading on the tube (347 pages so far. I’m on the tube at least 4 hours a day)

 

So, for my own little exhibit on British English, here are a few phrases that struck my fancy (or created some awkward situations):

 

jumper is a sweater, not one of those awkward little dresses you wore when you were 5.


Cheers” gets thrown out there all the time; it covers everything from goodbye to your welcome to thank you


Pants: underwear. So when you say “these pants are so uncomfortable” very loudly in a cafe it’s interesting. Instead, they’re called “trousers


Purse” is a wallet and and “handbag” is a purse.


People my age go to “Uni” and they live in “holes.”


The tube stop “Leicester Square” is pronounced “Lestor” as in the name or like ‘molester.’ They just decide that some letters aren’t impotant enough to be pronounced, I guess.


When you order an americano, you get a few dry shots of espresso. When you order ablack coffee you get an americano. No one does, but I guess if you wanted actual coffee, you would ask for “a filter.”

 

That’s the beginning of it at least. I’ve gotten used to the driving on the wrong side of the street and transferring on the tube, but I’m still likely to inadvertently explain my underwear to a complete stranger.

 

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