How to Speak British.

Thanks go to Paul Ogden, who sent me this five-minute video featuring Siobhan Thompson (of Anglophenia) describing “11 Awesome British phrases that Americans should start using ASAP,” because I’m so wiped out by the heat (and the World Cup action today) I can barely type, let alone think up post ideas. But I’m pretty sure that Mark L. Levinson in the comments is right when he provides this correction:

It’s not that both the swings and the roundabouts bring you back to the same place, it’s that “what you lose on the swings, you gain on the roundabouts.” You can look it up. Presumably it means that not all your activities are doing well for you, but the ones that are compensate for the ones that aren’t.


  1. Bob Gillham says

    I’ve always taken swings and roundabouts to be a Circus phrase, generally if the swings do well the roundabouts do less well…

  2. Bob Gillham says

    Sideshow got lost somewhere between my mind and typing fingers…you have somewhere else mentions of words like ‘spiflicate’ and somewhere else ‘erk’. I would suggest that these re entered the language as ‘fake swearwords’ on the radio and comics (NB British Comics VERY different to American) certainly in the fifties there was a movement to more ‘common’ characters in comics and on the radio, with speech patterns nearer to that used by real people but swearing was still absolutely forbidden but I remember a lot of ‘silly’ swear words like spiflicate…also on Radio check Jimmy Edwards who had been in RAF I believe and so maybe influenced his scriptwriters, also THE GOON SHOW written by Spike Milligan of an Anglo Indian Military Family used a lot of silly swear words. ERK is one of the brothers in COLD COMFORT FARM..which might have helped it stay in use..he’s the one with the watervoles….hope of some use..will put this up on my FB page and see if it garners anything. Bob Gillham is my FB name if you use it. Love the blog, save up a few weeks entries and then have a gorge….

  3. Glad you like it, and thanks for commenting on this poor forlorn post!

  4. Any relation to Lisa, by the way?

  5. Bob Gillham says

    Lisa? Not that I know.. Who she?

  6. An old friend; I wrote about her here.

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