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What the English Say versus What the English Mean

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antedeluvian
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Perhaps these
antedeluvian   2/17/2017 11:11:18 AM
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Max

South African English is close to English English, so maybe these will work

What I say:

Can you put the bagels in a packet?

What I mean:

Can you put the bagels in a bag?

What they hear:

Can you put the bagels where?

 

What I say:

Do you want a lift?

What I mean:

Do you want a ride?

What they hear:

Do you want me to raise you off the floor?

 

What I say:

I have to fetch the kids from school

What I mean:

I have to pick up the kids from school

What they hear:

What? Only dogs fetch

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Perhaps these
Max The Magnificent   2/17/2017 2:14:29 PM
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@Antedeluvian: South African English is close to English English, so maybe these will work...

When I first came here I would forget myself and ask for directions to the "Car Park" and people's eyes would glaze over -- I meant "Parking Lot" -- over here "Park" is associated with things like "Theme Park," "Water Park," "Amusement Park," and so forth, so when people hear "Car Park" their mind tries to wrap itself around the idea of Cars at a Theme Park

antedeluvian
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Cricket
antedeluvian   2/17/2017 11:28:52 AM
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Any cricket metaphor must flummox

When I say:

It's a sticky wicket

I mean:

It's a difficult situation

What they hear:

Someone spilled a coke in front of a bank teller

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Cricket
Max The Magnificent   2/17/2017 2:38:25 PM
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@Antedeluvian: When I say: It's a sticky wicket I mean: It's a difficult situation

Well, of course. It is funny when you think about this, but if someone said "it's s sticky wicket" to me I wouldn't even pause for thought -- I'd inherently understand what they meant. It must be so hard to be an American LOL

betajet
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What's a "wicket"?
betajet   2/20/2017 11:02:39 AM
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I would guess that most 'Mercans would instead ask: "What's a wicket?", a line from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

elizabethsimon
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Boot Sale
elizabethsimon   2/17/2017 12:52:19 PM
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From a trip to England many years ago...


What was on the sign

Boot Sale Saturday in the Car Park

What they meant (as nearly as I can tell)

flea market Saturday in the parking lot

What I understood

What's a car park and why would I want to buy boots there?

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Boot Sale
Max The Magnificent   2/17/2017 2:18:34 PM
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@Elizabeth Simon: ...What's a car park and why would I want to buy boots there?...

It was much the same for me coming over here. It really makes you think "I am a stranger in a strange land"

jimwilliams57
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An old girlfriend
jimwilliams57   2/17/2017 1:24:37 PM
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I used to date a girl from Manchester (in England, not New Hampshire).

She asked "what did you do Saturday?"

I answered "just piddled around."

What I meant "a little of this, a little of that, but nothing of any significance."

What she heard "urinated in various places."

Like I said, I used to date her.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: An old girlfriend
Max The Magnificent   2/17/2017 2:20:48 PM
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@Jim: ...What she heard "urinated in various places"...

That would certainly put the damper on things (LOL)

Randa11
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Since you mentioned ping pong
Randa11   2/17/2017 1:31:55 PM
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Since you mentioned ping pong, I used to be half decent, and, I had an american girlfriend for a while: I couldn't understand why she collapsed in a fit of laughter when I explained that I had a different rubber on either side of my bat.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Since you mentioned ping pong
Max The Magnificent   2/17/2017 2:22:35 PM
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@Randa11: ...I used to be half decent...

And the other half indecent?

tb100
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Re: Since you mentioned ping pong
tb100   3/28/2017 3:11:11 PM
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I had a friend who started high school in America after moving from England. She made a mess on a test in a class, so asked the boy next to her if he had a rubber. He just stared back at her, very intrigued and confused.

I've since learned that the very first use of 'rubber' was of a device that could rub off pencil marks--even before the substance it was made of was called rubber. So I guess the native English speakers have that one right. I don't know how we Americans corrupted the word.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Since you mentioned ping pong
Max The Magnificent   3/28/2017 4:25:39 PM
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@tb100: ...So I guess the native English speakers have that one right...

Well Duh! LOL

MeasurementBlues
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Then there's New England
MeasurementBlues   2/17/2017 1:45:49 PM
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@Max,

Then there are sayings here in New England. For example.

"Wicked" means "very," as in "wicked good."

"Wicked pissa" means even better than wicked good.

There's also a way of using a negative when you mean a positive, but I don't hear that much anymore and can't really remember how it's used. But, that be because so many of the people I know now grew up somewhere else or learned English, as opposed to "New England English."

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Then there's New England
Max The Magnificent   2/17/2017 2:33:27 PM
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@MeasurememtBlues: There's also a way of using a negative when you mean a positive...

No way!

Well, gag me with a spoon!

Max The Magnificent
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Gobsmacked
Max The Magnificent   2/17/2017 2:45:13 PM
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Now I've started to think of things like "gobsmacked" and "as sick as a parrot."

And then, of course, we have all the Cockney Rhyming Slang sayings, like:

"He's telling porkies" meaning "He's telling lies" (because "Pork Pies" rhymes with "Lies" and "Porkies" is a shortened form of "Pork Pies")

"My plates are tired" meaning "My feet are tired" ("Plates of meat" rhymes with feet, and "Plates of meat" -> "Feet")

"I have to get home to the trouble and strife" meaning "I have to return to the loving embrace of my wife"

And on it goes...

The thing is that, if I'm watching a TV program and I hear a term like this, I don;t think twice about it, but now I come to think about it, such a program would probably sound like gibberish to an American

Ariella
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Re: Gobsmacked
Ariella   2/17/2017 3:44:04 PM
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@Max It would, indeed. I'm not even sure all Brits would get it. Is that form of slang still in use?

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Gobsmacked
Max The Magnificent   2/17/2017 3:58:57 PM
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@Ariella: ...Is that form of slang still in use?

You betcha. Now, you have to understand that the vast majority of the English don't use Cockney rhyming slang, but I'd venture that they all know it because of books, television, films, etc.

It's definitely still employed by Cockneys (Cocknies?) themselves -- and I would assume a large swath of London's population, particularly the working class -- where a Cockney is someone who lives in the East End of London, particularly those born within hearing of Bow Bells (the bells of St Mary-le-Bow church).

Ariella
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Re: Gobsmacked
Ariella   2/17/2017 4:34:17 PM
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@Max What is Google for if not to check on the status of things like regional slang. There is a site devoted to just that form of slang under the nameCockney Rhyming Slang London's Famous Secret Language Logoand it had a blog post on just my question  http://www.cockneyrhymingslang.co.uk/blog/is-cockney-rhyming-slang-dead/

 

We say:

It's impossible to deny that Cockney rhyming slang isn't as commonly spoken as it used to be. That's one reason why this site exists – to catalogue and preseve the lingo. There are many reasons for this, primarily the "Cockney diaspora" – east-enders moving out to the suburbs, to the outer counties such as Essex, Bedfordshire, Kent etc. Walk around the East End today and you'll see mostly financial institutions and mobile phone shops, not costermongers and open air markets (pockets do still exist of course).

But we reckon the survey hasn't taken a few things into account. It asked people if they knew what various Cockney expressions meant. For example only 53% of those surveyed knew that "brown bread" means "dead" and only 8% actually used the term in everyday speech. But I wonder what results they would have got if they'd asked how many people use the expression "Use your Loaf". Or "Stop telling Porkies". Or "We're going for a Ruby". Because these are very common expressions used throughout the country but people don't realise they are Cockney rhyming slang.

We know we're not in the heyday of Cockney rhyming slang. That was sometime in the late 19th century. The second wave was (we argue) came in the 1950s and 1960s when TV, film and radio began to shine a light into the Cockney world with programmes such as Till Death Us Do Part, On the Buses, Carry On films, Steptoe and Son. This media attention informed the world about Cockney but carictatured at the same time, which causes people to move away from a Cockney identity lest they be caricatured themselves. Sad.

David Ashton
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Re: Rhyming Slang
David Ashton   2/17/2017 4:35:08 PM
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Rhyming slang is also used a fair bit in Australia....probably because of the Cockney English convicts who were brought out in the old days....

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Rhyming Slang
Max The Magnificent   2/17/2017 4:56:48 PM
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@David: ...probably because of the Cockney English convicts who were brought out in the old days....

Shhh -- I thought we didn't talk about that -- although I've never been sure if that was (a) because it's not polite to imply that the majority of people in a country are decended from convicts or (b) they don't know, because thsi fact isn't exactly highlighted in Australian schools.

David Ashton
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Re: Rhyming Slang
David Ashton   2/17/2017 6:07:58 PM
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@Max.... "Shhh -- I thought we didn't talk about that..."

Heavens no!  In Australia, being able to trace your line back to a convict ancestor is seen as a badge of honor.  Because of long and large scale immigration. I think people with convict ancestry are very much in the minority now (hence its rise in social acceptability...).

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Rhyming Slang
Max The Magnificent   2/21/2017 11:58:09 AM
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@David: ...In Australia, being able to trace your line back to a convict ancestor is seen as a badge of honor...

I've said it before and I'll say it again... it's a funny old world when you come to think about it :-)

Ariella
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Re: Gobsmacked
Ariella   2/17/2017 3:44:05 PM
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@Max It would, indeed. I'm not even sure all Brits would get it. Is that form of slang still in use?

betajet
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Re: Gobsmacked
betajet   2/20/2017 11:15:18 AM
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I heartily recommend The Limey, a 1999 USA crime film starring the great Terrence Stamp as a career criminal who travels to Los Angeles to find out why his beloved grown daughter really died while he was serving a long spell in chokey.  A great scene is when he attempts -- in Cockney -- to explain himself and his philosophy of life to a senior DEA agent.  The agent's reply is one of my all-time favorite movie lines.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Gobsmacked
Max The Magnificent   2/21/2017 12:12:16 PM
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@betajet: ...The agent's reply is one of my all-time favorite movie lines.

Damn you Red Baron -- now I have to go and watch that movie!!!

Gofor
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Communicating with Texans
Gofor   2/17/2017 4:04:21 PM
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Max,  You need to come on over to Texas for lexiconal(?) treat.  When I first arrived I too suffered from the Texas english language.

People offer to "Carry me to the local bar (pub)" i.e. offer a ride.

I fish in my stock "tanks".  The rest of the world calls them ponds.  That is a "dirt tank" in Texas.

Y'all is plural for you.

You get the idea.

 

 

David Ashton
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Re: Communicating with Texans
David Ashton   2/17/2017 4:32:24 PM
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Y'all....Australians say "youse" as a plural.  And they have a strange way of using "but" instead of "though".  

"It's hot today!"

"Yeah, it'll be cooler tomorrow but."

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Communicating with Texans
Max The Magnificent   2/17/2017 4:53:21 PM
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@David: ...Australians say "youse" as a plural...

I've heard that over here in the form "youse guys" -- Acording to the Urban Dictionary:

"Youse guys is the third mutation of the the pronoun you in the dialect between Boston and Philly used to emphasize a point."

Although what cheese has to do with it I don't know

David Ashton
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Re: Communicating with Texans
David Ashton   2/20/2017 2:28:39 PM
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@Max: "Although what cheese has to do with it I don't know "

Well, as you point out in your email salutation:

"Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese."

-- G. K. Chesterton

...QED!

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Communicating with Texans
Max The Magnificent   2/17/2017 4:33:23 PM
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@GoFor: ...You need to come on over to Texas for lexiconal treat...

I can't; I'm on a diet :-)

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Communicating with Texans
Max The Magnificent   2/17/2017 4:42:38 PM
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@GoFor: ...Y'all is plural for you...

It's much the same here in Huntspatch Huntsville, Alabama. "y'all" is a contraction of "you all" (i.e., "all of you")

Actually, there's more to this than meets the eye, because some people say that "y'all" is plural and should not be used by one person talking to a single other person, while others say this is hogwash and you can use it how you please in both a singular and plural context.

And then there's "all y'all," which is when a speaker wishes to include everyone being addressed. That is, "y'all" may refer to an indefinite subset of members of a group, but "all y'all" includes everyone in the group.

Gofor
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Re: Communicating with Texans
Gofor   2/17/2017 4:47:19 PM
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I believe them Alabammers know what the're talking about.  I seems to be the Southern thing for Clefornya, "You Guys".

 

Steve.Leibson
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Re: Communicating with Texans
Steve.Leibson   2/17/2017 7:24:57 PM
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"Y'all" is indeed Southern American English for the plural "you." The singular form of "you" is "ya," and in "I'll see ya!" or just "See ya!" Although British English and Northern American English do not differentiate between the singular and plural forms of "you," French and Spanish certainly do recognize the difference, have different pronouns for the singular and plural, and conjugate verbs differently as well. That's why Southern American English is considered more refined than other forms of the language.

David Ashton
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English vs.....
David Ashton   2/17/2017 4:26:25 PM
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David Niven in his autobiography "The Moon's a Balloon" had a good one - he told a girl he fancied "I'll knock you up", meaning knock on her door later...but Americans take this altogether another way.  As I recall she was very gracious about it and appraised him of the error of his ways.

Aubrey has previously pointed out that what we in Rhodesia / Zimbabwe called "robots" are actually Traffic Lights".  Are those different in America?

Here in Australia, if something is "Fully Sick" it is very good.  Go figure.....  and when I came to Australia 15 years ago I asked where I could get a "stiffie" meaning a 3-1/2 inch diskette (we called the 5-1/4 ones "Floppies" to differentiate).  Everyone collapsed laughing. Stiffie means something very different here.

And in French, "Demande" and "Requête" have pretty much opposite meaning to the English "Demand" and "Request".

When God came down and "confused the speech" of mankind at the Tower of Babel he did a good job :-)

Max The Magnificent
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Re: English vs.....
Max The Magnificent   2/17/2017 4:46:50 PM
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@David: ....and when I came to Australia 15 years ago I asked where I could get a "stiffie"...

I was going to say "and you wonder why you don't have any firends," but then I thought this might be better said as "and you wonder why you have such interesting friends" LOL 

perl_geek
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Rhyming slang
perl_geek   2/17/2017 4:30:30 PM
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The essence of rhyming slang is generally using the non-rhyming part of the couplet. If I'm wearing a hat while observing from the top of the stairs, then suffer a digestive upset, I'm up the apples taking a butcher's in me titfer, feeling uncle dick. (Apples and pairs, tit-for-tat, butcher's hook, sick.)

I believe it was developed by market traders so that they could talk confidentially in front of the punters without them understanding. A recent example from the TV series "Wheeler-Dealers" referred to a thousand pounds (sterling) as  "a pound of sand", (a grand).

My parents had migrated significantly North-West from their birthplaces, but my father would use rhyming slang ironically, causing me much confusion. I knew he didn't have a brother called Richard.

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Rhyming slang
Max The Magnificent   2/17/2017 4:43:59 PM
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@perl_geek: ...I knew he didn't have a brother called Richard.

ROFLOL

betajet
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"not a patch on"
betajet   2/20/2017 11:26:21 AM
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One of my favorite Brit-isms is "not a patch on", meaning that something compares poorly to something else.  I first encountered the phrase in a spy thriller in which there was a character who was from Cleethorpes, a seaside resort in Northeast England.  During WWII, whenever his Army company arrived at a new location he'd declare "it's not a patch on Cleethorpes", which became a company catch-phrase.  A fellow soldier was once sent off on a recon mission to check out a location for an upcoming operation and was reprimanded when he sent back the message: "Location suitable in all respects but not a patch on Cleethorpes".

seantellis
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Rhyming Slang
seantellis   2/20/2017 5:33:19 PM
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Given the amount of interest in Rhyming Slang, here's a plug for my comprehensive online Cockerney™ Rhyming Slang dictionary - http://moteprime.org/cockerney/ - which may help non-Cockerneys from around the world. And Basildon.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Rhyming Slang
Max The Magnificent   2/21/2017 2:32:33 PM
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@sean: ...my comprehensive online Cockerney™ Rhyming Slang dictionary - http://moteprime.org/cockerney/...

This is the funniest thing I've seen all day -- thanks for sharing


perl_geek
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Re: Rhyming Slang
perl_geek   2/21/2017 5:20:32 PM
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Sorry, me old china, but that looks to be a load of cobblers.

(Translation provided upon request.) :-)*

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Rhyming Slang
Max The Magnificent   2/22/2017 10:25:26 AM
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@perl_geek: ...Translation provided upon request...

Why? That's perfectly understandable me ol' mucker.

mosspp
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Words mean things, and sometimes _other_ things . . .
mosspp   2/23/2017 5:18:31 PM
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A company that I worked for in a previous life hired a bunch of Brits one year, probably because they would work for less $$ than their American equivalents. 
The company held an orientation meeting in the auditorium and one of the topics was desert survival.  The speaker emphasized that the Arizona climate is very dry and one should always carry water, especially when engaging in outdoor activities such as hiking. For day-long hikes, a backpack was recommended to carry enough water and food for the day.  The audience burst into laughter when told that for short hikes, a fanny pack would be sufficient.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Words mean things, and sometimes _other_ things . . .
Max The Magnificent   2/24/2017 9:40:32 AM
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@mosspp: ...The audience burst into laughter when told that for short hikes, a fanny pack would be sufficient...

I remember running headfirst (metaphorically speaking) into that one when I first moved to the USA.

dpettit
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Re: Words mean things, and sometimes _other_ things . . .
dpettit   2/24/2017 6:37:15 PM
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My understanding is actually closer to your "What the English Mean" column than the "What Others Understand".  My wife and her mother who is from California have jointly determined that when I say something they cook is "okay" that means that I don't like it.  And when I say something is "good" that means I really like it.  I'm not sure if that is due to my being from a small midwestern town or due to my predominately German and English descent (though many generations removed).  They also marvel that my family doesn't openly profess their love for each other on a regular basis while they can hardly go an hour without saying "I love you" to each other. 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Words mean things, and sometimes _other_ things . . .
Max The Magnificent   2/27/2017 12:21:33 PM
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@dpettit: ...My wife and her mother who is from California have jointly determined that when I say something they cook is "okay" that means that I don't like it...

If someone from England said my cooking was "okey" I would probably take that to mean "not all that great" -- but if they said "not bad" I would take that to mean "pretty fair"  

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Words mean things, and sometimes _other_ things . . .
Max The Magnificent   2/27/2017 12:26:21 PM
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@dpetti: ...They also marvel that my family doesn't openly profess their love for each other on a regular basis while they can hardly go an hour without saying "I love you" to each other.

OMG -- I know how that goes -- my mom occasionally told me that she loved me -- and she might say she loved my dad at the end of a phone conversation -- I don't recall my dad ever telling me he loved me until he was on his death-bed, but I never ever thought about this -- I knew he loved me.

In the case of my wife's family, they tell each other how much they love each other so much that they can barely squeeze any other words into the conversation LOL

Crusty1
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Words change
Crusty1   2/27/2017 3:51:32 PM
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Hi Max:

This weekend I used a saying that I had not used in some time.

"Not up to snuff" meaning not good enough. I looked it up on line and it appears that it started out as "up to snuff" meaning that the refered to person was sharp or read for it.

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Words change
Max The Magnificent   2/27/2017 3:55:16 PM
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@Crusty: This weekend I used a saying that I had not used in some time...

What? "My Round of beers, I think"? LOL

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Words change
Max The Magnificent   2/27/2017 3:59:51 PM
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@Crusty: ..."Not up to snuff" meaning not good enough...

It's funny, but you learn these things by a sort of "osmosis" when living in a country -- so if I heard someone say this I would know exactly what they meant -- plus I probably would never even pause to ponder it's origin.

One problem for me living over here (in the USA) is that I don't know what they know -- I just asked Bob from the office next door and he says he is familiar with this one (which sort of surprised me, but there you are)

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