How to speak ENGLISH English

Siiiigh,  those Yanks.

You know, I am a tolerant sort, I can abide their insistence on spelling things horribly and their propensity to dispense with whole syllables willy nilly. Having said that, there are one or two Americanisms I cannot bear; for example, the use of ‘chill’ and ‘tan’ as adjectives. These words can be verbs or nouns but for heaven’s sake slap ‘ed’ on the end if you wish to describe something. Shudder.

Living in Bangkok where many of my friends are either at least half American or were educated with American English, I get to do a fair bit of eye-rolling and occasionally it falls to me as the token Brit to explain the meaning of certain proponents of anglophonics. For instance, this week I posted this exclamation, prompting the following conversation:



And thus I was reminded of my crucial responsibly to the good folks of this city. So, here is a handy list of Britishisms, to help you better understand Harry Potter or just to spice up the ol’ vernacular and make you sound just a little bit more like Sir Sherlock Cumberbatch:

Some further exclamations:

Good heavens! Cripes! Bother! Bollocks! Bugger!

also, Bloody + anything (Bloody hell, Bloody heck, Bloody nora…)

(A note: ‘Bollocks’ is bad, but if something is ‘the Dog’s bollocks’,  it is good. Of course, being English, I know precisely why this is but am honour bound to the Queen to keep it a secret so I am sadly unable to explain it to you lest I be hung for high treason. Sorry.)



Ghastly: awful, hideous – full Downton Abbey effect if you pronounce it nasally with a nice long ‘aaahhh’

Poncey: frilly, pretentious and affected

Minging: really nasty, ugly or disgusting

Common abbreviations:

Blates: from the adjective, ‘blatant’, meaning glaring or obvious, usually in the adverbial form and most broadly used by Chavs (trashy, reprobate youths in sportswear):

‘Oi bruv, you gunna sniff glue down the park later?’ ‘Blates, fam!’ (hey friend, do you plan to abuse substances today? Of COURSE, comrade)

Totes: from ‘total’ or ‘totally’, popular among the upwardly mobile and used to add emphasis:

‘Yah yah, Binky, Sebastian, Felix and I quaffed a few G&Ts at Hugo Pop-Orfington’s new bar last night,’ ‘Oh Ruuuulllleh? I heard it’s vair chic?’ ‘Yah yah, absoloooootely,  it’s totes amaze.’

Words to describe being intoxicated:

Pissed, sloshed, wankered, tiddled, rat-arsed

Or if you want to sound a bit posh,  just take any noun (the more ridiculous, the better) and add ‘ed’. Here, Michael McIntyre will explain:

Useful conversational expressions:

Alright? Despite the upward inflection, it’s not a question, it just means hello. The answer is ‘Alright?’ and not ‘Jus’ swell thanks, how’re y’all?’ (Here, I’m approximating an American answer, to assure you that I understand your plight – I know, so accommodating.)

Get me? = Do you understand what I’m saying? See also: Djnameen?

I can’t be arsed  = I cannot muster the resolve to do something

Arse over tit: a spectacular fall

Jog on! Somewhere in the middle of the offensive scale between ‘Kindly remove yourself’ and ‘Fuck off the fucking fuck off!’

jog on

And,  the thing we do best, here I present some of my favourite English insults:

wally, twit, pillock, plonker, muppet, twat, bell-end, wanker

For an old-school dad quality, pop ‘dozy’ on the beginning: ‘You dozy twat’ – lots of articulation on the T, please.

And in case you weren’t convinced that we denizens of fair Blighty are linguistically creative, here is the mayor of our capital city READING the right honourable gentlemen:

Alternatively,  watch an episode of The Thick Of It for some truly inspirational expletive gymnastics:



That seems like enough for now but doubtless you can think of a few gems; do please share and we can all bask in the gorgeous golden beauty of proper English.


2 thoughts on “How to speak ENGLISH English

  1. Bill From Ameriker

    Roight. Those blokes from Ameriker con’t speak propa loike we do loike in ool, soat uv. Blawst. Ov you bean to Kooaller Lumpa in Malayser? O Toilind? Singapo puhops? Roight, soat uv loike. Oi know it’s ool a bit of a kintrovacy loike buh it goes wiff the territree loike in ool soat uv loike reeelay. Oi took a boat and explode the Amazin during a hurrakin not faa from the Pentigin loike soat uv. The rezosiss aaa vawst ond impotent fo South Ameriker in ool loike. Blawst. I met a lovely gull in Australier loike ond huh name is Bullinder loike and er sista is cooled Anner loike. Er cousin, a fintosstik looking buud, is cooled Doianner loike. Fanks fo the propuh English lesson loike, soat uv in ool.

    1. nickyscribbles Post author

      What a deliciously well-penned little story, old boy! I have quite simply no idea what on earth you’re blithering about but it does sound invigorating!
      PS: MUST start using fintosstik in every day speech – marvellous!


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