B1 Intermediate UK 696 Folder Collection
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Oscar Wilde famously described Britain and the US
as two nations divided by a common language.
Now, there are many different words
that Britons use and Americans don’t.
For example fortnight, caravan, petrol and so on.
But there are also many phrases and idioms
that are common in the UK but unheard of in the US.
And here are some of my favourites.
Hi, I’m Siobhan Thompson
and this is Anglophenia.
Now, if I were to say to you
Brian used to know his onions
but then he lost a plot,
he made a right roll kock-up,
and now he’s living at Her Majesty’s pleasure’
If you’re American
this might not make the blindest bit of sense to you.
But all of these phrases
are used pretty ubiquitously in the UK.
Enough, that when I first used them in the States,
I was shocked
when people had no idea what I was talking about.
So, here are some pretty common examples
of British phrases.
The etymology of them is a little bit hazy
since they are colloquialisms.
But when they are known, I will tell you.
This means that somebody is daydreaming,
or in sort of out of touch with reality.
It doesn’t actually mean
that they've run away with actual fairies.
Fairies don’t exist.
Sorry, Tinkerbell.
So, as an example:
‘Oh my goodness! Sorry, I was away with the fairies.’
Or ‘Don’t mind Daisy, she’s away with the fairies.’
It does come from all of those terrifying stories about children
being kidnapped by fairies.
But it also indicates somebody who lives
in their own fantastical imagination.
The closest in American English is probably ‘space cadet’
but it’s not exactly the same.
This means that everything evens out in the end.
Sort of like
six of one and half a dozen of the other.
So swings and roundabouts
always end up in the same place eventually.
So you don’t have to worry about
where they are right now.
The Manhattan Bridge is closer than the Brooklyn Bridge
but there’s more traffic,
so it’s swings and roundabouts, really.
This phrase probably came about
at the end of the 19th century
when fairgrounds became wide spread throughout Britain.
This means that
different people are good at different things.
Just like some horses are better at racing
and some at jumping.
You have to pick the right horse
for the right course.
- Why wasn’t George Clooney cast as Harry Potter?
– Well, it’s horses for courses, isn’t it?
This refers to the swell of birds
the one that happens
right as the sun comes up.
As in
‘Ah, I was trying to lie in this morning
but I got woken up by the dawn chorus.’
All of you city dwellers
might not know that this is a thing.
It is!
did you know that
there are birds that aren’t pigeons?
Yeah, true story.
This is a way of saying
‘And there we go’
or ‘And right away.’
It indicates that something is done very quickly and efficiently.
So, throw a tea-bag in a cup,
pour on some boiling water,
and Bob’s your uncle,
a cup of tea.
Sometimes people honestly think
that a Robert is your mother’s brother,
or a Robert is your father’s closest male relative.
Seriously, this is a thing that people do.
This means gossiping and chatting.
Having a nice chin-wag
is just having a little catch up with your friends.
So, I’m just gonna go put the kettle on
and then we have a nice chin-wag
about that George Clooney being cast as Harry Potter.
This means ‘a really long time’, like
‘Oh, I haven’t seen you in donkey’s years.’
The closes American vocable into this is ‘Oh, I haven’t seen you in an age.’
This comes from two different roots.
the Cockney rhyming slang for ‘years’ is ‘donkey’s ears’.
And secondly, donkeys live for a really long time.
Yeah, we’re learning a lot of things today.
This means ‘to have a look at’.
Oh, you got engaged?
Let’s have a butcher’s at that ring, then.
It’s another one that comes from Cockney rhyming slang,
butcher’s hook meaning ‘look’.
And it spread around the country
after the advent of radio and television.
If you watch the show ‘Call the Midwife’,
you’ll hear it said about 800 times every episode.
This means ‘it’s very cold.’
It comes from the nautical slang,
‘It’s cold enough to freeze the balls of a brass monkey.’
Meaning cannon balls,
not the balls you are thinking about.
The brass monkey was the name of the stand.
If it got too cold
the metal would whop
and all of the cannon balls would roll off.
Of course, this never happened in Britain,
where it is a rainy 12 degrees centigrade
every day of the year.
This means ‘to go to bed.’
Just think about it for a second.
Got it?
This is kind of a funny way to say that somebody is pregnant.
It probably comes from about the same place
as ‘having a bun in the oven’.
Plum duff is and other name for Christmas pudding.
Nurse, I think I’m up the duff.
Come and have a butcher’s.
Go! Wake up! What?
Are you away with the fairies?
It’s monkey’s, ain’t it?
Can’t you turn the heating up?’
So, there we go.
Do you have a favourite British phrase?
Let us know in the comments.
Don’t forget to subscribe
and watch some of the other videos.
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is really interesting.
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How To Speak British Anglophenia Ep 7

696 Folder Collection
宇昕簡 published on July 21, 2016
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