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Thread: Being British XII

  1. #1
    The Canon Queen Hufflepuff
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    Being British XII

    A new thread to continue your discussions in.

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    Terri Black (as in Mrs Sirius {aka Padfoot} Black)
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  2. #2
    A.H.
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    I know 'cool' is used in Britain too, but I keep stumbling over Ron telling Molly in a letter that "Harry is really a cool guy." (First year.) Is the Briticism at the tip of my tongue completely imaginary?

    Help would be appreciated!

  3. #3
    Wizengamot Hufflepuff
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    Hmmm,

    Well, I use it, but I'm not sure Ron would describe Harry as cool to his mum. Molly wouldn't care about 'coolness', Bill might, but not Molly.

    'guy' is a bit American too, unless you're a teenage girl talking about a 'guy' you fancy.

    Ron, age eleven, would say boy,and to his mum might use the dreaded word 'nice'.

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  4. #4
    HARRYHARRYHARRYs_twin
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    This may sound stupid. Just a warning.

    I'm writing up a story, and in it the Head Boy dumps a pitcher of maple syrup on someone's head once the adults aren't watching. You guys do have maple syrup, right? I remember my French teacher going on about proper gifts to bring to a host family in France, and she mentioned maple syrup because they didn't have it, so I want to make sure that y'all have it across the Channel (note: I doubt the teacher is at all credible. Like many language teachers, she is completely mad).

    And while I'm here, what are some of the dialects/accents that are mocked/imitated in England? It doesn't matter if they are in England/Scotland/Ireland or in other countries. I know that here in the States, my friends and I are always speaking in 'English' and 'Australian' accents and making jokes about Canadian pronounciations, so I was wondering if you lot do the same sort of thing. I'm looking for a accent that a character has that others mock a bit, and at the moment the guy is sounding an awful lot like Hagrid.

    Thank you!
    --Selina

  5. #5
    psijupiter
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    I think most people would know what maple syrup is, but we don't really have it over here. Also, Hogwarts has very traditional meals, so though I suspect you could get maple syrup over here if you really tried, I doubt it is something the House Elves would cook up.

    What meal time are you talking about? If it is at dinner time, custard is served with a lot of traditional British puddings. If you need something sticky, maybe honey (more of a breakfast thing) or perhaps treacle? Though in my experience treacle tends to be cooked into desserts (like a treacle cake) rather than served on its own in a jug or something. There might be a toffee sauce if there is sticky toffee pudding on offer.

    Accents: it sort of depends where you live, I think. Cities/areas that have rivalries will mock each other's accents more. Generally I've found English people who live near the borders of Scotland and Wales will sometimes mock those accents. (Though alot of people seem to really like the Welsh accent - though obviously different parts of Wales have different variations.)

    Some other more general examples would be the sterotypical farmer accent, (I apparently can't describe that, but I suppose it's the Herefordshire area?) Cockney (from a particular part of London - you've probably heard this in films) and the Geordie (Newcastle) accent. Oh, Scouser! (Liverpool.) You might be best searching on youtube or somewhere to find some examples of what they sound like, or wikipedia has good examples of typical words/slang. Also, people will often imitate/mock the posh/upper class/RP accent (you know, the one most British people in movies seem to have. )

    To be honest, anyone with a very strong accent from anywhere will probably be mocked. Your best bet I think would be a Scouse or Newcastle accent - I used to have a strong Scouse accent, and I know alot of people found me nearly impossible to understand when I moved to a different area.

  6. #6
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
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    I come from Somerset (think Hagrid's accent but A LOT broader), and whenever I met someone new at Uni and told them where I came from, they'd always take the micky by trying to imersonate the accent, or singing songs from a local band called The Wurzles. So yeah, people mock that accent a lot, but I only encountered it in good humour.

    When lots of people from different areas come together, accents are mocked, or at least, that's what I found at Uni. I'm from the south, but am at Uni in the north, so my southern accent is mocked just for being southern, likewise, a northerner would be mocked in the south. We take the mickey, like psi says, out of Geordies, Scousers, Cockneys and also Brummies (Birmingham). You've also got people from the Midlands (Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire etc), who, in my eyes, speak a weird mash of both northern and southern. My Midland friends claim they have a southern accent, but I tell them that they're just notherners in denial because they say things like 'bus' and 'us' in nothern ways.

    So yeah, as psi says, anywhere where accent deviates from the norm will be mocked. Personally, I've always found that my 'farmer' accent was mocked more than those from the other cities, because it's 'farmer', and we're supposedly thick and 'village idiot' type people.

    Regarding the maple syrup, I've never seen it in shops, but I haven't really tried looking. The only time we had it in our house was when my sister went skiing in Canada and brought some back. We didn't use it much, in fact, I think it was there for about three years. We never finished it becuause it got dropped and since it was in a glass container, it broke everywhere. So yeah, not really that common. I'd perhaps go with treacle if you want something sticky or glutinous, but more common is custard or cream, but that's only at dinner, and if the pudding is something like crumble.

    Hope this helps!

    Sarah x


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  7. #7
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    One of the things which stops me instantly when I’m reading a story is pancakes for breakfast. It’s a stupid thing to get annoyed about, but pancakes, whether with maple syrup or fruit or cream (or whatever), are not a British breakfast. In fact, what we call pancakes are the wafer thin equivalent of what the French call crepes. The only liquids you’re likely to see at a breakfast table are milk and fruit juices. If you want sticky at breakfast then that would be honey, or marmalade, or jam (which you call jelly). At dinner gravy or custard are the best options, but they are hot and therefore dangerous.

    Everyone takes the mickey out of the Scouse (liverpudlian) accent, and my own (Northumbrian) accent takes some stick, too. To contradict psijupiter, the closer you get to the Scottish border the less likely it is that people will poke fun at the accent.

    Accents tend to flow. In my part of the world the accent in the English border town of Berwick is almost indistinguishable from a lowland Scottish accent. As you move south it turns into Northumbrian pityakka (which even I don’t understand and I live less than ten miles from its heartland), then to Geordie, then maccam.

    A ‘soft’ Geordie accent as regarded as friendly, a hard accent is pretty much unintelligible to outsiders but writing dialogue in the vernacular is difficult to do. JKR lived in the area where Hagrid’s accent originates, I would risk writing something in Geordie.

    “Ah’m gannin hyem ter see me Mam. She’s ganna mek us a kyek fo’ ma borthda the morra then were gannin doon the toon ter get paralytic.”

    But I wouldn’t risk any other accent, and I’d tone down the Geordie because what’s written above is inintelligible.

    Neil

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  8. #8
    Wizengamot Hufflepuff
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    Hmm, I buy maple syrup. It is available in the shops in the UK, but it would depend what era you're writing.

    If your Head Boy and Head Girl are James and Lilly then, no, they wouldn't have had maple syrup and they wouldn't have had pancakes at the breakfast table (or waffles). They may well have had porridge with some golden syrup poured over it (that's very sticky) or honey ... that's probably a better alternative.

    Accents - we mock everyone and everywhere generally depending on who we're talking to or who is famous at the time. Brummies and Scousers take a particular bashing as do very posh people. Geordie accents are actually very hard to get right. The other one that gets particulalrly picked on is the Essex accent - which is a sloppy, twangy southern horror version of a London accent.

    When I lived in Carlisle, my southern accent was picked on every single day. I said things like 'barth' or carstle' instead of 'bath' and castle'. When you choose an area that you're focusing on, you might want to come back on here and ask about local words. I'm sure amongst us Brits here, we can find lots of different phrases for you from all over the UK.

    Carole
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  9. #9
    Fifth Year Ravenclaw
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sapphire at Dawn
    So yeah, people mock that accent a lot, but I only encountered it in good humour.
    I agree, most accents (mine included) are mocked, but only in good humour.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sapphire at Dawn
    My Midland friends claim they have a southern accent, but I tell them that they're just notherners in denial because they say things like 'bus' and 'us' in nothern ways.
    The English north south divide is difficult to quantify, but as a rough rule of thumb, northerners all correctly pronounce words like glass, grass and pass, correctly (to rhyme with the word ass), southerners, for some reason rhyme the word with a rude word meaning bottom.

    Even “northerners” have difficulty understanding each other. I went to Uni with a Lancastrian. The first time he used the words “buzz top”, he had to repeat them several times before I figured out that he was talking about a bus stop.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sapphire at Dawn
    Regarding the maple syrup, I've never seen it in shops, but I haven't really tried looking. The only time we had it in our house was when my sister went skiing in Canada and brought some back.
    Most large supermarkets stock maple syrup. My young lady has relatives in Canada and we went to visit a couple of years ago. I got a taste for the stuff (she hates it). I’ll be having some on pancakes tonight (today is pancake day aka Shrove Tuesday).

    Neil

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  10. #10
    Sixth Year Hufflepuff
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    Speaking of breakfast... I'm looking for a (pretentious?) breakfast food that would be common for Brits, particularly at the table of the wealthy. Any ideas?

    Neil, when I was writing the line relating to the question above, the only thing I knew for sure was "don't write pancakes, don't write pancakes."
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