News Mar 3rd 2016

British slang basics for international students

You may take a look in your slang dictionary for what different words and phrases mean, but they change so often that it is often not worth your while learning them. Many of them sound like they are offensive or nasty, when they are not. Here are a few commonly heard ones.

Starting from scratch

This sounds like a bad thing, but it actually means to start from nothing. If a person loses everything, he or she may have to start from scratch. It doesn't mean to start from a bad place; it just means starting again without the previous baggage or problems.

Can't be bothered

If a person says they cannot be bothered, it means they are generally unmotivated and unenergetic. It doesn't mean they don't want you bothering them. It has nothing to do with them being bothered (aggravated/annoyed); it simply indicates their lack of energy for a task.

Ta

This is a way of saying thank you very quickly. It is commonly viewed as a friendly expression. Somebody may also say, “Ta very much.” You often hear it on movies and on TV more than you may in real life. It is more commonly spoken than it is written.

Cheers

This is a commonly used expression for saying thank you in a friendly way. People also say cheers when they are about to have a drink of alcohol or something special.

Nice One

This is commonly used as an expression of happiness, which is usually directed to an idea or an event. For example, you may say that you kicked a ball over a house, and a person may say, “Nice one.”

Hiya or Hey up

Instead of saying hello, one may say “Hiya” because it is quicker and easier to say. It also sounds a little less formal, but you should still use “Hello” when on the phone. Hey up is pronounced “Ey Up” and is a northern English way of saying Hiya.

Alright?

This is another way of saying hello. A person may say you and say, “Alright” as a way of saying hello. Even though it is a question, it is a rhetorical question that needs no answer unless the person being asked is very upset.

How's it goin'?

This is a longer way of saying “Alright?” and yet is still shorter than the typical US version, which is “Hello, how are you?” which is a phrase you may hear coming from a shop clerk in a US store.

Are you having a giraffe?

It may also be “Are you having a laugh?” and it generally indicates a level of disbelief. For example, you may hear it as London slang where one person says, “I need that report by 5pm,” and the other says, “Are you having a giraffe?” because it is a tough deadline.

See ya

There are many ways that British people may say goodbye, and See Ya is one of them. There is also “Bye”, “Tarrah”, “toodle oo”, “Cheerio” and “ta ta,” though there are many more.

Common pet names you may be called

People in Britain will happily call you by a pet name. In most cases, it is a form of affection and/or a way of appearing familiar with you. Do not be offended if somebody calls you one of these slang UK words: pet, cock, duck, duckie, sweetie, sweet heart, love, chick, chuck, chucky-egg, sweet, sweets, sunshine or even darling.

Having a go

In London, it may indicate a man trying to seduce a woman, such as, “I went out to have a go with a bird.” However, if you move further up north and into Wales, then to “Have a go” at somebody means attack them verbally and criticize them in some way.



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