British and American English are in fact two completely different languages that are only very similar to each other. After all, they have been developing separately for almost 250 years, since the United States gained independence.
We have previously written material on which phrases to use to make speech more like American. And the British were cheated.
Today we are correcting ourselves and talking about words and phrases that will make your speech more British. Go.
Disclaimer. If you want to read our previous article “10 phrases in English that will help you pass for an American”, then here link to it…
The standard meaning of the word “bloody” is bloody or covered in blood. But the British are very fond of using it as an emotion booster.
It is considered practically a curse, but it is not included in the number of censored. It’s like a Russian “pancake” – it doesn’t seem to be too cultured, but you definitely can’t call it abusive.
The phrase “bloody hell” is considered especially popular. This is the semantic equivalent of “damn it” – an exclamation that does not carry much meaning, but means surprise, fear, delight, or another strong emotion.
Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter movie franchise is very fond of this phrase:
The most interesting thing is that the word “bloody” in this sense began to be used 300 years ago. 300, Karl! That’s what tradition means, even in terms of slang.
It was also used in personal letters by Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels. He wrote:
It was bloody hot walking today. I dined in the city and went and came by water.
It was damn hot to walk today. I dined in the city and went to get some water.
And if at the beginning of the 20th century “bloody” was perceived as a rude word, now it is like a common emotional exclamation. It is interesting that it is popular only on the British Isles – in other English-speaking countries it is practically not used in such a context.
Another emotional expression. It is very similar to “bloody” in meaning, but there are some nuances. If “bloody” expresses more surprise or shock, then “blimey” has a slightly more negative connotation. This is what they often say when something unpleasantly surprises. But in general, the differences are minimal.
In the Russian language, in terms of meaning, “Christmas trees-sticks” are most suitable.
The history of the word is very interesting. As it turned out, this is an abbreviated form of the phrase “God blind me”. Literally – “God dazzle me”, but in its meaning it corresponds to “Thunder strike me.”
The word is old and already in the 1980s was considered archaism, but it unexpectedly got a second life after 1997.
And the reason for this is all the same Harry Potter. But now it’s a book version. J.K. Rowling used this archaism as part of youth slang in the book.
“Blimey,” said the other twin. “Are you —?”
(lane M. Spivak)
“Damn me! Gasped the second. – And you, by chance, did not …
And the young readers liked the word so much that they began to actively use it again. In modern youth slang, it almost never occurs, but people from 25 to 40 use it for themselves in everyday life.
There is a very subtle point with this phrase. Because “piss” means “to pee”. But it is “I’m pissed” that also means “I got swollen, got drunk.” Precisely in such a rough translation.
Not to be confused with the more popular in English-speaking countries “piss off”, which means “fuck off”. Or even its more rude obscene counterpart.
The use of “pissed” to mean “heavily drunk” is purely British.
I can’t walk. I’m totally pissed.
I cannot go. I’m just fucked up.
Linguists cannot come to a consensus about the origin of this phrase precisely in the meaning of “swelled”. They agree only on one thing: the phrase “piss off” appeared precisely because of the meaning “drunk” – so rudely they sewed beggar drunks near bars.
About “pissed”, many scholars believe that at the beginning of the 20th century it meant “to drink beer.” Deliberately rude and almost obscene. And “pissed” because of the characteristic yellow color of the drink and its effect – from beer you really want to go to the toilet. But there is no definitive confirmation of this hypothesis. After all, it is possible that “pissed” simply means such a drunk person who simply does not control his body with all the ensuing consequences.
In standard English, it means partner. That is, a husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, but without specifying the gender component. But in British English this word rather means “friend”, “acquaintance”.
This is what unfamiliar or completely unfamiliar men usually say to each other when they do not know the names, but at the same time the formal address of the mister will not be entirely appropriate.
Hey mate, where’s the chemist’s?
Hey buddy, where’s the pharmacy?
If a young guy asks for directions from a passer-by about his age, then “mister” seems redundant. But the appeal “mate” is quite natural.
You can also contact younger interlocutors in this way. For example, a senior male to a 10-year-old boy. At the same time it will be, albeit a little familiar, but rather respectful treatment – almost like a “young man”.
In American English, the word “mate” has almost completely lost the meaning of “buddy.” It remained only in words like “classmate” – “classmate.” Instead of “mate”, “pal” is widely used – its meaning is almost identical, but precisely as an appeal, it did not take root too much.
And remember, in Britain “mate” is a common, not too formal appeal to a stranger or unfamiliar person. But if you say this to someone in the United States, then you can leave the interlocutor in strong confusion. Indeed, in America it is almost synonymous with the word “lover”.
In Scottish English, this adjective means “pleasant”, “excellent”, “selective”.
Here are just its much more popular British meaning, which means “fool”, “idiot”, “felt boots”. Sometimes it is called a wallet or pickle, so it needs to be viewed in context.
Wally is the mildest option and is hard to count as an insult. This is akin to the Russian exclamation Vasya! or Valera! (no offense to the real Vasya and Valera).
I look a right wally in these shorts! – I look like an idiot in these shorts!
By the way, the word “wally” also most likely came from the name Walter. There is a story that at some music festival in the 60s, a group of vacationers lost their acquaintance and he was called many times over the speakerphone: “Wally! Wally! “
How much truth in this story is unknown. But linguists agree that the most likely origin of the word is precisely from the name Walter.
It is interesting that this nuance of the language was played up in the famous cartoon “WALL-E”. The name of the main robot character WALL-E is pronounced exactly the same as “wally”. And in general, his image corresponds to a slightly awkward idiot.
In the United States, the word “wally” is used primarily in the sense of “wallet”.
It is translated very simply: “This is nonsense.” And except in Britain, you will not hear this phrase anywhere. In the USA it will almost always sound like “That’s bullshit”, and in Britain both versions are used.
You can’t kill someone with a flying hat, that’s rubbish…
You cannot kill someone by throwing your hat, that is nonsense.
But the difference is that “bullshit” is considered a mild curse. For its use, a film or program may lose its G rating and receive a PG. But “rubbish” is a perfectly acceptable word that can be used anywhere.
Here’s Fred and George screaming “That’s rubbish.” And yes, we also think that with the help of “Harry Potter” you can illustrate in general anything from British culture.
The very word “rubbish” is also truly British. It translates as “garbage”. In the US, another lexeme is used – “trash”. So if you hear “rubbish”, then you can be sure that there is a Briton next to you.
Of course, these are not all phrases and words that are unique to the British and distinguish them from other English speakers. But they are definitely worth knowing. And if you want to speak with the British like a native, then sign up for a free trial lesson with a teacher and learn the purest British English with native speakers.
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