Dear England, part 2


An ongoing dialogue with and about the UK.

Logic tells you that we, as former Brits long ago, should have multiple ties to our several-times-removed cousins and that one of those ties would be our language.

Well, you'd be bloody wrong.

I don't know what sailing across the ocean did to the way we talk but it's so far removed from the Mother Tongue as to be almost a completely different thing entirely. And what's annoying is that, in some ways, the Brits have a much more colorful range of expressions (for the stiff, unemotional souls they can be).

I'd love to adopt some of those expressions but my Texas friends would give me the kind of look that would fry ants on a rock. Texans aren't much for what they consider high-falutin' ways as it is and an East Texas girl spouting British-isms would not be accepted. I might get my "ya'll" privileges taken away.

Brits have a fondness for the sarcasm I love so much and so my favorite UK expression relates to that. Nowhere in the American lexicon is a term so perfect and so relevant as the British-ism "taking the piss". It has nothing to do with urination (unless you want to count the pouring down of sarcastic wit) but has everything to do with twisting a situation back around on someone. For a very simplistic definition, let's say you come in from a soaking rain and I tell you how lovely you look. Well, that's taking the piss--again, in an extremely simplistic illustration. It's just plain, simple, lovely sarcasm.

And we've got no one word or term that comes even close to meaning the same thing. "Kidding" is too soft, too juvenile. "Joking" doesn't apply and we shan't even discuss "joshing".

I love the term car park for parking lot just because it sounds more elegant somehow...less humble and mundane. I think it's delightful when something "comes over a treat" or, rather, turns out well. There are also "poncey" and "posh". I have yet to clarify precisely each of the terms but I enjoy the perceived meanings I've chosen for them. And I'm pretty sure I like for things to be posh even though it seems to be frowned upon.

Of course, I realized my most ambitious linguistic desire on my last trip to England. I couldn't help but stand out with my Texas-cum-Southern accent and yet I wanted so much to appear as if I knew what I was doing. I dined lavishly on a pub Sunday roast and readied myself for the moment of ordering a dessert (or a pudding, if I were actually being correct). The waiter asked what I'd like and I looked him straight in the eyes. In my most serious tone, I said clearly, "Spotted dick please."

Then I spoiled it when I giggled.

© 2023 by Jessica Priston. Proudly created with Wix.com