Wednesday, 24 December 2008

I don't believe, as Hugh claims, that Americans over the age of twelve don't giggle at names. After all, there was a fair amount of sniggery at Kevin de Cock - the first time I mentioned it, at any rate - on both sides of the Atlantic. It's just that Randy Bumgardner is thrice-funny to British ears, and possibly none of the three elements means the same in American English. More here, billions of them (which is more here than there, though neither here not there):

Momentarily. Imagine you are flying from the UK to the US. Just before you land, the air stewardess announces that 'we are about to land momentarily'. If she is American, she has just said that we are going to land in the very immediate future. However, if she is British, you may be spending less time in the US than you originally planned. The UK meaning in this context is 'for a short time' as opposed to the US 'in a short time'. Also, when an American stewardess said that the plane would be taking off momentarily on the way home, I had images of the Boeing 747 kangaroo hopping all the way back to Blighty...

Pants and Knickers You call pants what we call trousers; pants are the things that go underneath. In the US knickers are knee-length trousers similar to what the Brits call 'breeches'. In the UK, they are the things that go underneath. Typically British men wear pants under their trousers and women wear knickers, unless of course, you are a Tory (Conservative) MP and then anything goes... Also NORWICH (Norwich is a city in England famed for its football team, its cathedral and chat show host Alan Partridge) was an acronym used by service personel during WWII for '(k)Nickers Off Ready When I Come Home'. To be on the safe side when visiting the doctors it's best to keep your pants/knickers on...

Policemen. UK policemen are unarmed. As a consequence I feel safer over here than I did in the US. Anyway, the following are used to describe policemen: bobbies, peelers, filth, cops, pigs, the old Bill (or the Bill), rozzers, coppers, a plod or perhaps 'bastards' if you are feeling lucky. I'm not sure how many of those you guys might use. Imagine you are a tea leaf (cockney rhyming slang for a thief) and you spot a car in good nick (reasonable condition) so you decide to nick (steal) it. Along comes PC (Police Constable) Plod, puts his hand on your shoulder and says 'You're nicked mate!' even though he isn't your friend and he probably isn't wielding a knife. This is your cue to say 'It's a fair cop! You got me banged to rights and make no mistake. You'll find the rest of the swag (ill-gotten gains) in the sack!' if you are stupid or 'I aint done nuffink, copper!' if you are aren't. Since you had 'been a naughty boy' you would be taken to court, and you may find yourself confronted by a 'beak' (a magistrate), who might send you down for some time 'at her Majesty's Pleasure'. You would go to gaol (or jail), or 'nick' as it is sometimes confusingly called.

Randy. In the US a perfectly reasonable first name. Pity then, the multitude of poor Americans given this unfortunate appellation when they come over to old Blighty. Wherever they go, grimy street urchins snigger, little old ladies try desperately to stifle guffaws and ordinarily quite sensible members of society burst out in laughter. And why? In the UK, saying 'Hi, I'm Randy!' is akin to saying to our American cousins 'Hello friend, I'm feeling horny.' However, save your pity for poor soul Randy Highman who introduced himself to my supervisor at a conference not so long ago...

Posted on 12/24/2008 11:09 AM by Mary Jackson
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