British expressions found while reading...........

yoyobon_gw

I came across this expression while reading The Beekeeper's Apprentice :

"reach-me-downs "which refers to clothing that is passed on to someone else.

In the US we call them " hand-me-downs".

It makes me wonder how these expressions came to be used.

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vee_new

yoyo, I'd also say "hand-me-downs" Maybe it depends on what part of the country the writer is from and the expressions that have been 'handed down' to her/him.

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annpanagain

I second that. They were called "hand-me-downs" or "passed on", which was the more polite expression, where I lived in the South of England.

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vee_new

yoyo, I 'looked up' the author Laurie King and see that she was born, educated and still lives in California, with no mention of her ever having lived in England. Maybe it is a CA expression.

I have never read any of her books but feel it must be difficult for American writers to get everything 'right' about English/Scottish/Irish idioms, expressions, way of life etc . . . and, of course, vice-versa.

Only think of all the goings-on with Meghan and Harry. Correspondence has been sent claiming to be from the couple but it is quite obvious that it is from Meghan's 'people' as it is written in American not English English. But I suppose to be fair, and nice chap that I'm sure he is, writing is probably not one of Harry's major skills . . .

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annpanagain

I notice that writers like Maeve Binchy put Irish expressions into English mouths! It is rather jarring and takes me out of the story!

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msmeow

This Florida born -and-raised girl would say "hand me downs", too.

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Marlorena-z8 England-

I have never heard of reach me downs, which sounds odd to me...… hand me downs or cast offs, yes..


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astrokath

Hand-me-downs in Australia too.


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yoyobon_gw

From Collins online dictionary :


Definition of 'reach-me-down'

reach-me-down in British English

NOUN informal

a. (often plural)

a garment that is cheaply ready-made or second-hand

b.

(as modifier)

reach-me-down finery

  1. (plural)

trousers

  1. (modifier)

not original; derivative; stale

a stock of reach-me-down ideas


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yoyobon_gw

Laurie King, author, also uses the word " connexion" instead of " connection".

Seems odd.

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matthias_lang

As a USAmerican I often find words in UK books that I do not know. They can look like very simple words, often only one syllable, and it seems as if I should know such a simple word, yet I have to go to a dictionary..

Due to internet forums, I've learned a lot of UK expressions. I love it.

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yoyobon_gw


kerb ........instead of curb ( as in the side of the road )

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vee_new

yoyo as you know there are endless words spelled differently in US/UK.

It all seems to stem from the US spelling having been madeeasierrelating to the way a word sounds.

I have no idea if this was a gradual change in the US or if some Presidential Decree went out "From hence forth from today at 8am all words in the English Language will now be written in American."

Interesting that in other English speaking countries the language appears to be called 'English' rather than 'British English'. I may be wrong but I have never heard of New Zealand English, Indian English, Kenyan English or even Canadian English . . .but perhaps they speak American English . . .

If Frieda were here she would soon put me right.

Interesting American article below




American English


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yoyobon_gw

Vee.......What an interesting article ! I learned a few things from it, mainly that those words that I find perplexing to spell are actually correct in BritEng.

For example : gray/grey, analyse/analyze ( the z makes so much more sense to me and now I'll feel comfortable spelling those words which should have z not s and claim that I default to the accepted British spelling ! )

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annpanagain

I try to use words that the reader will relate to but have a problem with movies/pictures/films but not flicks, which was thought of as being rather "common"!

In Australia "going to the theatre" can be used too as a shortening of picture theatre.

A live show will be at a named place locally such as "His Majesty's.."

My laptop spells words the US way so I have to ignore the correcting red underline at times!

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yoyobon_gw

Saying you're going to the movies means movies or films shown in a theater complex.

However, saying that you're going to the theater or going to see a show usually means a live show on stage such as Broadway in NYC ( when there was such a thing ).

The use of the word " flick" is a leftover from the 60's and rarely used.

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yoyobon_gw

As Mark Twain once said:

Anyone who can only think of one way to spell a word obviously lacks imagination.”

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msmeow

That is an interesting article, Vee. Of course, it doesn't even address the fact that US English and British English use different terms for the same things, such as biscuits/cookies and boot/trunk.

In my experience, Canadians use British English spelling, such as colour and centre.

Donna

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friedag

Vee, it just so happens that I've been reading Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham, a joint biography of Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker and the history of their folie a deux that resulted in the matricide of Honorah Parker (a.k.a. Honorah [Nora] Rieper) in Christchurch, NZ in 1954.


Pauline was born and educated in Christchurch. Juliet came to NZ from England when she was nine years old, ahead of her parents in 1948, where the Hulmes sent their daughter to boarding school in hopes that the NZ climate would help Juliet 'grow out of' her respiratory frailties. It didn't help as much as everyone thought it might. Juliet eventually developed TB and thus became isolated from her family, and she had trouble making friends until she met Pauline.


However, Juliet had an advantage -- along with innate intelligence -- in that she sounded very 'English' to the admirers in NZ of the highbrow English accent. Juliet's mother, Hilda Hulme, cultivated her daughter's accent to make sure Juliet did not adopt 'New Zealand English' as she grew older. Pauline began mimicking her friend Juliet's speech patterns and pronunciations. Pauline was thrilled and proud when a New Zealander asked her, "How long have you [Pauline] lived in Christchurch?"


The irony, of course, was 'cut-glass English' was not natural to either of Juliet's parents. They were both originally from the north of England and had acquired their prestigious English.


Some -- actually quite a lot of -- New Zealanders did/do not appreciate the Hulmes' superior attitudes and condescension toward New Zealand English as mere colonialism. Actually there are several NZ dialects: for example, Aucklanders speak English differently from Wellingtonians, and Christchurch and Dunedin dialects are distinguishable to those hearers who are attuned to NZ regionalisms. Unfortunately, I haven't had enough experience listening to NZ accents/dialects to pinpoint the differences.


As far as I know, every variety of English has its qualifier, so indeed there is Canadian English, Caribbean English, South African English, Indian (sub continent) English, etc. although for the sake of simplicity-- shorthand and shortspeak -- they may be referred to as English, only.

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vee_new

Thank you Frieda.

I had read about the murder case in NZ and seen a TV 'drama' about it, although I have no idea what/if/how 'accent' played any part in the dreadful events.

I wonder if the local population took umbrage at the Hulme's attitude ie what they said rather than the way they spoke?

I don't know if it is true in the US or elsewhere but over here it used to be the case that 'middle class' parents would attempt to drum-out the local accents their children might have 'picked up' while at school or playing with friends.

Of course things have moved the opposite way now and it seems almost compulsory that the up-coming/younger generation have flattened their vowels and either speak 'Estuary English' or sound as though they have just worked a heavy shift in a coal mine.

I have a s-in-l who's father, a very senior cleric in the C of E, enunciates beautifully while the son is hardly intelligible, possible a way of speaking developed to distance himself from the sound of the 'pulpit'.

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vee_new

And to add! Colonialism has now become an even dirtier word that it was before. After the terrible 'events' in Minneapolis crowds of angry supporters have taken to the streets over here and what should have been quiet scenes of support for US victims have turned into hate riots against the Establishment, with a statue of a 'benefactor' of our nearby city of Bristol who made his money in the 1600's on slavery being dumped in the docks. In London a statue to Winston Churchill has been defaced and the Union Jack on the WWI Cenotaph burnt.

These protesters now have a list of statues that must be removed ie Francis Drake, PM Wm Gladstone, Columbus, plus that of the controversial figure of Cecil Rhodes the pioneer of Southern Africa, who's wealth was made in gold and diamond mines at the expense of a native workforce but who provided hundreds of scholarships to Oxford University for black students. Street names should be changed ie anything with the words 'black/white' in it So no more 'Black Friars' or 'White Ladies Rd' (after religious orders). So the demands go on. And don't try and rent the movie Gone With the Wind it has had to be removed from the streaming service that provided it plus several other shows now seen as racist . . ..

OK I'm getting old and should be put out to pasture or maybe re-educated as happened in China . . . and can well understand that no-one here will feel able to add their twopenny worth . . .

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annpanagain

I feel it is sad that apologies have to be made for the past when things were looked at differently. I think it is better to concentrate on a better future.

I have always loved the book and movie of "Gone with the Wind" and have the DVD, so there! It is fiction, folks!

Where does it stop if anything that doesn't suit modern thinking is banned? There are a number of issues I have when reading Golden Age mysteries, about the class system but as the saying goes "It is what it is!"

If Blackface shows and films are bad, what about portrayals of Orientals by white people? There are plenty of examples of that. Mickey Rooney, Louise Rainer, Sir Alec Guiness etc. There was no disrespect intended.

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astrokath

Ann, I'm afraid I have to disagree with you about the use of theatre in Australia, as I would say it is used exclusively for live shows. I think most older people would still say 'going to the pictures' for a film, but younger ones would say 'going to see a movie'.

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vee_new

Another statue coming down is that of Robert Baden-Powell the founder of the Boy Scout movement. Apparently he is now considered by some to be a homophobic racist . . .


Baden-Powell

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annpanagain

Kath, I could be mistaken but I think it was used in WA in the past if not now.

I don't mix with people much to notice a change. If it gets mentioned that someone of my age is going to see a movie, they usually tell you that they will be seeing "The title" if they can remember it! They might mention the location of the cinema complex.

However, rather than the title, it is sometimes a case of "Oh, that thing with whats'ername in it. About a dog...you know"

Younger people seem to be more precise!

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annpanagain

Kath, calling the movie place a Theatre must indeed be a WA peculiarity.

I Googled and found the latest upmarket complex in Perth CBD is grandly named Palace Raine Square Movie Theatre! It sounds very comfortable but I usually get a DVD of anything I fancy and watch at home.

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friedag

I wonder if the local population took umbrage at the Hulme's attitude ie what they said rather than the way they spoke?


Vee, as Peter Graham explains the mutual contempt of the Hulmes and New Zealanders: The Hulmes rubbed the 'Cantabrians' (the term refers to the inhabitants -- particularly the local upper-crust -- of Christchurch and the Canterbury Plain region of the South Island where Christchurch is located) the wrong way almost from the very beginning on their arrival in NZ from England. To the NZ'ers the Hulmes were full of themselves, epitomized by their hoity-toity English accents that they refused to tone down. So it was partly the way they spoke, as well as what the Hulmes said that lost most of the goodwill they could have had as newcomers to NZ. The NZ'ers were a bit prickly, too, possibly because they were sensitive to being 'looked down on' by the Hulmes.


A telling anecdote involves Ngaio Marsh, the crime novelist and theatrical producer who was born and bred in Christchurch and had lived and spent a good deal of time in England. Ms Marsh was guest-of-honour at an elite school function in Christchurch. The Hulmes made their appearance at the affair. Hilda Hulme, especially, did not want to be upstaged by a 'colonial' so she swept into the room, flashing smiles at those who carried clout, cutting dead anyone who didn't matter. . . After the introduction between Hilda H and Ngaio M, Noel Coward's name came up. Hilda inquired if Marsh knew him and when Marsh said she did, Hilda knowledgeably asserted:


"Ah yes, he's a dear isn't he?"


"No," Marsh said firmly, "he's a bit of a s**t actually."


This exchange was greatly enjoyed by all present. It was game, set and match to Marsh, who rolled her eyes heavenward as the Hulmes made an early departure.

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colleenoz

I’ve heard it can “picture theatre” or a “cinema” but never just a “theatre” in WA.

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vee_new

Frieda, re the Hulme family, we would call them, among other things stuck up. Nowadays this has become up themselves less polite but with a similar meaning.

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annpanagain

Colleen , the term of just "Theatre" for a cinema has fallen out of favour. As the old ones are being refurbished the name is being dropped in favour of just "Cinema" as with the Piccadilly Theatre in the Piccadilly Arcade.

My husband and I went there quite often as it was close to home.

When I came to live in Perth in the 1960s "Going to the theatre" (the person meant "to see a picture") was a common expression. So much has changed since!

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colleenoz

Oh I get naming a cinema “Whatever Theatre”, and I think that’s a holdover from the days when they did double duty as theatre and cinema. We came to Perth in 1969, and I’ve never heard anyone say they were going to the theatre if they were going to see a film, so it must have fallen out of use by then.

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annpanagain

Colleen, yes, I suppose it had. Most of the people I knew in the early Sixties were older generation and they used a lot of language from even earlier times!

I still use some of the colourful phrases, e.g. "Carrying on like a two-bob watch" for someone who is acting frantically!

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friedag

Vee, is 'toffee-nosed' still used in the UK to mean an arrogant, pompous, pretentious person?

It's funny to me that many words which describe people who think they are superior -- insufferably so -- have to do with the nose. There's a snoot (noun) and the adjectives snooty, snotty, sniffy (I don't recall if those are predominantly U.S. usages). Then there are the phrases: 'nose in the air' and 'looking down [one's] nose' which I think are understood widely by many speakers of most varieties of English. Why the nose, I wonder? But it is very easy to visualize!

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vee_new

We don't hear 'toffee-nose' these days far more ruder expressions about! I don't know if it is true elsewhere but over here this 'superior' attitude is far more prevalent among the wives of men who have 'done well'.

Many years ago I was out with my Father when we met the wife of one of his friends, the local bank manager. He said "Good Morning Mrs C" and she only acknowledged him with a slight regal nod of the head. "Why didn't she speak to you?" I asked and Dad replied "Oh! she's just noveau riche" At the time I didn't know what that meant but now realise it did sum-up her 'type'.

Had she been genuinely well-bred rather than having just reached the pinnacle of her ambition for her husband she would not have been SO ill-mannered.

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msmeow

I have an app of word and logic games on my iPad, and I suspect the game designers are British, due to many of the crossword clues (plus the fact they use the word “adverts” instead of “ads,” and I’ve never heard an American say that). Anyway, today one of the crossword clues was “temporary home for moggies.” I have no idea what a moggie (or moggy) is, but the answer was cattery. Are those British terms?

Donna

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vee_new

Donna, a moggy is a cat, a 'very ordinary' cat rather like describing a dog as a 'mongrel'. A cattery is a place, I suppose, where cats are bred/kept/go for their holidays.

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vee_new

I found a few Americanisms when I recently read Wicked Autumn Over here we never say so-and-so 'taught school'. We would say either 'taught at school' or 'was a school teacher' Nor do we say 'out back' of the house, when describing something at the back. But then we drop the 'the' when saying 'Jim was taken to hospital' . . . no reasoning for any of this!

Also the word rube is never used here for describing someone from the country(side).

Otherwise the author had done a good job of making the story 'sound' English'.

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yoyobon_gw

Here's another word I discovered which is different : story/ storey when referring to a two-story home. i began to wonder if perhaps I had been using the wrong spelling all my life ?!

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msmeow

Thanks, Vee! The cats in my house are on holiday all the time, so no need for a cattery. And I'm sure they would object to being called "moggies," as they are far from ordinary! LOL

Bon, I think also the first story/storey in the UK is what we would call the second floor. :) It's probably one of those words that can be spelled either way.

Donna

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annpanagain

Donna, depending on the size of the house, there would be a Basement, usually below a Ground Floor, then the First and Second Floors etc. up to the attics. For a while, as a child, I lived in a converted Victorian terrace house.

We had the second floor which was originally the bedrooms with bells by the fireplaces. The room with the bath was in an attic. We were intrigued to know what a small thing that looked something like a fireplace was, that was set into the front wall. I later discovered it was a boot-scraper from the days of horses!

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msmeow

Ann, that sounds like a very cool house! In Florida we don't have basements (at least I've never seen one down here).

Donna

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yoyobon_gw

Donna, when describing a home you'd say "two story " rather than " two floors" ....as in : A two story bungalow. My observation was more in the way the word was spelled.

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vee_new

yoyo, a two storey/story bungalow?!

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vee_new

OK yoyo, maybe in the US but the house in your picture would not be described as a bungalow in the UK.


Collins Dictionary


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astrokath

I only recently found out that story was a legitimate spelling of the level of a house. I was taught story was a tale, and storey was for houses.

Moggy is used in Australia too.

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Carolyn Newlen

I wouldn't have called a two-story house a bungalow either. Vee, do you think we are showing our age?

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vee_new

Carolyn, of course I can't speak for you but sometimes when I pass a mirror I see my elderly mother looking back at me . . .

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annpanagain

So does my daughter see me and she hates it! Actually she has more developed jowls but I say nothing!

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Marlorena-z8 England-

The house in the link I would regard as a large, detached character property... however, we do have something here called a 'Chalet Bungalow'... vee will confirm, that involves upstairs living accommodation, and can resemble a two storey house..

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vee_new

Marlorena, yes and now many people add a storey above a small bungalow which involves putting in stairs, dormers or windows in the roof to give themselves some extra space. House prices in the UK being way over-the-top so many people cannot afford to move to a bigger place.

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