Friday, 18 December 2009

The Vagueries of English

Just for the benefit of readers around the World, I will try to clarify some of the expressions that not only I use, but which you might come across when viewing British websites.

My regulars will be aware that I live in the Northeast of England, so to make it easy I will say we are called Geordies. Some useful words and sayings follow:

Whyay pet!:yes
Canny Dia:nice day
The Toon:Newcastle upon Tyne or Newcastle United Football Club
Wor Lass:My wife,my daughter or my sister.
Bairn:my kid
Ha Wey!:Fuck off!
Ar Divnt Na!:I don't know!
Ar man ye feckin blaked:I say old chap you are drunk!
Yea suthern bastad!I take it you are from down south!

In other parts of the country you will experience a different set of expressions.

In London you have cockney rhyming slang, which some of you might have come across watching Guy Ritchie films like Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch.

Simple examples follow:

Sky=sky rocket=pocket
Apples=apples and pears=stairs
Bristols=Bristol Cities=titties
Bottle and Glass=Arse
Mother's Ruin=Gin

In other parts of the country accents are different:

In Yorkshire the lads will say' Aye I sup some stuff!' Meaning I had a few beers!

The West Country Lads will say arr ass roit good beer that is, arr! Meaning the beer is ok!

Oi reckon the sheep round ere are ok. This could mean Welshmen or Norfolk lads who obviously are attracted to sheep, so be careful!


  1. This is a fun post and brought back some wonderful memories of my Mum-in-law, who was a self-described British Lady. She grew up just outside London and never lost her accent nor penchant for British sayings. I used one of her phrases yesterday. We were visiting some relatives and I said, I need to "spend a penny" before we leave. They looked quizzical so I had to explain. Mum also corrected us when we said "strawberries" instead of "strawbrees." And each afternoon, promptly at 4:00, we had tea and bics (cookies). She definitely left us her British imprint.

  2. As a fan of the Arch Acker book New Zild and How to Speak it, I enjoyed the post immensely.


  3. Great post Simon.

    Interestingly rhyming slang is part of the vocab for older Aussies.
    I have heard just in the last week
    "I'm on my Pat Malone" = alone.
    "It caused all sorts of froth and bubble" = trouble.

    By the way, and in response to your very cheeky comment on my blog, we Aussies have to the old country win the Ashes from time or you guys just give up!

  4. This is one of my never-stated reasons for wanting to become an actor -- to take on a part that needed dialogue coaching!

    If you could hear me try these, you'd throw up your hands in laughter and offer me a 'pity beer' (= a consolation, in any dialect)

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  6. “Happy Holidays” and my wish for you in the coming year is that it will be overflowing with new and wonderful accomplishments.

    Best Regards,