Quite honestly, one of the things that amuses me most about the British is their language. I know you might stop me and say, “Hey wait a minute, don’t you speak English same as they do?” To which I would reply that, yes, I do speak English as do the British, but it’s the parts of the language that make their version unique and very un-American that make me laugh.
For instance, one of the things I love most is the Cockney Rhyming Slang. The best part of CRS is that no one really knows where it came from or how it got started. According to the Wikipedia article: “It remains a matter of speculation as to whether it was a linguistic accident or whether it was a cryptolect developed intentionally to confuse non-locals. If deliberate, it may have been used to maintain a sense of community. It is possible that it was used in the marketplace to allow vendors to talk amongst themselves without customers knowing what they were saying. Another suggestion is that it may have been used by criminals to confuse the police.”
I’ve recently purchased a copy of Horrible Histories: Edinburgh (which I will discuss at a later time) and one turn of phrase there – non-CRS – is what prompted this post. There is a chapter on witches in this book and the author states that Scotland and witches go together like haggis and bashed swedes. The footnote at the bottom of the page informs the reader that bashe swedes are mashed turnips. Not something that really appeals to me gastronomically speaking, but it made me giggle.
As I encounter more odd words and phrases, I will return to this beloved subject.