Why can’t the English teach their children how to speak,
this verbal class distinction by now should be antique.
There even are places where English completely disappears.
In America, they haven’t used it for years!”
Alan Jay Lerner wrote those lyrics for “My Fair Lady” in 1956. So that gives us a good impression of what the British think about us, that is, the United States.
This week in my email I received a flyer with a warning to any Americans visiting Great Britain, “Here are new words you Yanks are not familiar with. So, if you are traveling here, you wankers, let me give you a list: 1. Budge up = crowd together on a subway or double decker bus. 2. Bagsy = dibs on the front seat. 3. Twee = little anything. 4. Chuffed = pleased, and happy. 5. Tory = a political conservative. 6. Gutted = upset, opposite of Chuffed. 7. Knackered = exhausted. 8. Cheese off = red hot angry. 9. Kip = sleep. 10. Legless = too drunk to walk home.”
The only one I knew for sure was Tory. When I taught English and History for 30 years, the definition of a Tory was a person who came from England and fought for the British during the American Revolution. These guys didn’t even like George Washington, can you imagine? Nobody disses our first President. With that in mind, I thought I could account for our lack of British expressions with a list of our own, from the “Wild, Wild West.” You won’t need a dictionary. We speak this every day.
No need to budge up when we can clear a bar room with a few well-timed punches and then as they say, “Now can you give me some fightin’ room?” We ride or drive mustangs. Plenty of room. Bagsy is called, “Vamoose, if you don’t want to be pulverized.” Twee? Tell that to Texas. “Everything is Bigger in TEXAS. Can you eat a 72-ounce steak?” Twee is good for an… island. Chuffed? Here we say, “Happy, heck yes, it’s hog killing time. Go Matanzas!” We have covered Tory. “Those varmints better pull in their horns before we send you home packing.” Enough said. Gutted? Upset during the day, are you? Put on your best bib and tucker, then eat New Mexican food till you are full as a tick and get chuffed. Knackered? If we fly 5,003 miles to get to your England, we might be knackered. But we gussy up with a lick and a promise and drop our tourist the money so your Queen can get her own set of Downton Abbey. Cheesed off? So, you think you’re angry? “Try to eat a little gravel have a fair shake and then keep your balderdash yarns to yourself.” Kip? Sleep all you want after a hard day visiting Old Town, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, and our Albuquerque Museum for Fine Art. We have museums too! Legless? You won’t be, because we look very harshly on drunken caterwauling and if you do it, you will end up in the hoosegow.
Language is the same as a rolling river. The boundaries are not limited. When I went to college to learn to be an English teacher there were very strict rules that we thought we next to the Holy Bible. Actually, the Holy Bible has been reworded many times since those wise guys got together and wrote it up. Before the 60s grass meant you needed a lawn mower, and cool was when it snowed. Hippie was what you got if you didn’t eat food by Jenny Craig and far out was when you drove to Edgewood from Albuquerque. Dig it? I did not. It is fun to look back on how we used to express ourselves. Today most of the “new” words are not words at all. OMG test!
While you are writing those stories about happy times for your kids, start to make a list of fun terms from the past. LOL you can look them up on your phone. I must apologize to all my good friends who are Brits. I love your country, but you do not speak English. We got you covered. Roaring Mouse, ta ta and out.