Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Weight, Mate

Copied from my MySpace blog. Originally posted October 16, 2006

In a recent blog, I offered some tips for travelers heading to the UK. I focused on the importance of understanding the difference between North American English versus English English. One reader reminded me of one word that I had forgotten, so I have decided to release part 2.

Today, I will offer more advice to North American travelers on understanding our bangers 'n' mash-loving friends across the Atlantic. Specifically, this bloggy thingy will highlight some of the differences in:

DIRTY WORDS.

On this side of the ocean, kids call their bottoms their "bums". It's a cute term. In London, my wife was a school teacher. On one of her first days with English kids, she told the rowdy class to quiet down and sit on their bums. The children went wild. They couldn't believe that she would use that word in a classroom. She expressed her surprise to her fellow teachers who agreed with the children - she was out of line to say bum.

And it's not just in classrooms that the word bum is seen as indecent. I had a boss who, when he was upset, would mutter "oh, bum!" and then apologize for swearing in the office.

But the same guy had no qualms about using that c-word that is considered to be very vulgar here. That's right, many Brits will call you a cunt as quickly as a North American will eat a triple cheeseburger from Wendy's.

But don't be a cunt and call your "waist pack" a "fanny pack". In North America, "fanny" means the same thing as "bum" and it's as harmless. But in the UK, it's means the same thing as "cunt" and it's just as vulgar!

I know, this is confusing!

Peter, a chef I worked with in London once asked me how the song "The Weight" by The Band could be so popular in North America. He had misunderstood the lyrics "Take a load off, Fanny" as "take a load of fanny." Peter, who was gay, pictured Robbie Robertson offering concert-goers some free vagina to take home with them.

He felt better about the song once I told him the proper lyrics, although he still kind of doubted me when I said that Fanny is a perfectly fine name.

Then, he felt worse about us "New Worlders" when I told him about the local ski hill back in my hometown. The most difficult run on the hill was called "The Fanny". Because you might fall on your bum. Peter thought it was another sign that Canadians and Americans are big fat pigs.

Anyhow, I wrote this while watching tv, so it probably doesn't make much sense, but if it does, I hope that it will be helpful to you if you ever travel to the UK from North America.

Remember, bum is bad, cunt is good. That sounds like a homophobic man's mantra, doesn't it? But it's not - it's all you need to know to make sure that everyone you meet in the UK thinks you're the dog's bollocks. You don't want your visit to be a total balls-up, because that's bad, innit?

14 comments:

DaveManiac said...

Comment copied from Lloyd's MySpace page. Comment posted October 16, 2006

Haha, nice work and very true on the lot of that - also you might want to add not calling football by the name of "soccer" us Brits tend to get a wee bit angry about that..

♣.gen & tonic.♣ said...

Comment copied from Lloyd's MySpace page. Comment posted October 16, 2006

haha, i love your blogs! i lived in england, and it is true! nice job! -gen

chuck said...

Comment copied from Lloyd's MySpace page. Comment posted October 16, 2006

im from the uk. so true a bout the cunt thing. not sure if bum is bad. nice work on the 2 blogs. the fag thing is definetly the single most important differnce that needs to be pointed out to north americans. i live in japan now and i was on the train with this US military guy who was a friend of a friend and we were going to see a gig. after we got off the train i said quite casually that i was gagging for a fag. the look i got was of pure horror and it took me some time to convince him that in the uk fags are smokes. cheers for the entertainment

Nathan said...

Comment copied from Lloyd's MySpace page. Comment posted October 16, 2006

Thanks for the tips, will keep them in mind on any future trips to the UK. For example I'll know to tell my girl "make sure you say 'bum' and not 'ass' while over here".

Flex said...

Comment copied from Lloyd's MySpace page. Comment posted October 16, 2006

It is interesting to see how a language evolves differently in several versions according to geography, culture and tradition.

As a psychologist, I might wonder whether the British scaredness of 'bum' indicates a collective repression of anal feactures, but then again why is 'cunt' more acceptable for them, it is not really logic, but then again, nobody promised us that life should be logic at all :)

Beverly said...

Comment copied from Lloyd's MySpace page. Comment posted October 17, 2006

I'm British and find the c word much more offensive than bum which I also take to be a cute word for bottom. Why would we call a fanny pack (which is really funny to us Brits when we hear it) a bum bag if it was really so bad? I guess your wife taught at the one of the few schools that thought it rude, unless the kids were very young and they try not to teach slang or it was very upper class?

I'm on holiday in the US at the moment and a big difference is all the references to roads such as freeway, expressway, interstate, parkway. We have a motorway, dual carriageway, ring road, and would refer to main road and side roads too.

I wouldn't worry too much about the language because there are so many US TV programmes (or would that be shows?) on UK TV that we are becoming more used to the differences in American English and English.

I would agree that the main ones to watch out for would be pants and fanny.

Cari said...

Comment copied from Lloyd's MySpace page. Comment posted October 17, 2006

Interesting points made throughout. But really, since you can fart from either, does it REALLY matter? Also, if you could expand on what "tosser" means that would be a great help, since it's always bugged me (as in "get outter my way yer tosser!)

Scarlet BLONDE said...

Comment copied from Lloyd's MySpace page. Comment posted October 20, 2006

Tosser means wanker, basically. One who masturbates too much. Its not as harsh as wanker nut is still an insult.

Cunt is amuch ruder word than Bum, much. Try calling a strnager a bum, than another a cunt and see which gets more annoyed.

One thing I will say. Don't get annoyed at us Brits when we get exaserbated by American English. We are very precious about our language and believe passionatley that at the end of the day it is OUR language, despite the twisting and contorting that Nordic, Latin, Saxon's and French have put it through in the last 2 thousand years.

Also, be aware that although the UK is small, it has a huge diversity of regional accents and words. For example, I'm from Yorkshire. We call the midday meal dinner and the evening meal Tea. In th south of the UK, the midday meal is Lunch and the EVENING meal Dinner. So even within our shores, it can get confusing. Generally, the further North you go, the more confused most North Americans will become.

At Yorkshire/Lancashire you'll have to ask what the odd word means, and Newcastle you'll have to ask what most of the words mean and in Scotland, you'll need a translator!

Lady Lauretta said...

Comment copied from Lloyd's MySpace page. Comment posted October 17, 2006

I enjoy reading you but you dont blog enough. :)

Kat said...

Comment copied from Lloyd's MySpace page. Comment posted October 17, 2006

Ha ha ha. This was good. Brought back some memories. I remember coming back from the UK and asking my fellow classmates for a rubber. Needless to say I learned the hard way that it is called an ERASER here in the US.

Christine said...

Comment copied from Lloyd's MySpace page. Comment posted October 17, 2006

Well, if I ever venture to that side of the world I'll probably be a muppet and say all the wrong words =)

I chat online with a guy from the UK, he calls the stairs in his home "the apples and pears" took me quite a while to figure out what the hell he was talking about.

Bonnie said...

Comment copied from Lloyd's MySpace page. Comment posted October 16, 2006

Funny, funny, funny! Laughed my bum off here in Texas!!!

Brooks said...

Comment copied from Lloyd's MySpace page. Comment posted October 17, 2006

Once again, you have made me laugh my bum off. One more word for perusal, "lift" is a UK elevator. I religiousily watch BBCA and have picked up on their way of speaking and needless to say, my kids think i am from another planet. which could be true, now that I think about it!!

Dave said...

Comment copied from Lloyd's MySpace page. Comment posted November 5, 2006

Please dont steryotype the whole country for what you experienced. We are not all the same over here in sunny little uk. As for the word Cunt, you have your wires crossed. That word is only used by people who do not have the brain cells to tell the difference between right and wrong. I am no saint and have used my fair share of swear words on a daily basis. But that is one word which very rarely passes my lips unless I am extremly pissed off about something.