How to Speak British

The lovely British Union Jack

Say this with a British accent: “I don’t need the A and E; it’s just a scratch. A plaster would do the trick.”

 “What’s the A and E?” you ask. “And what’s plaster got to do with it?”

I’m trying out the U.K. vocabulary that I learned from Helen Russell, a British woman who wrote a book called, The Year of Living Danishly. According to someone’s survey, Danish people are the happiest on earth. Ms. Russell lived in Denmark for a year to find out why. But she still writes like a Brit which is good because I don’t read Danish.   

But the fact that she writes in English doesn’t mean an American will understand everything she writes. Here are some British words I had to google.

  • Satnav — This is a GPS, as in Satellite Navigation
  • A and E – emergency room (Accident and emergency)
  • Plaster — Band-Aid
  • Tipp-Ex – See below.

Google tells me Tipp-Ex is White-Out. As in, the white fluid that comes in a little bottle with a brush like nail polish. We used it back in the day to correct mistakes we made with our typewriters. For those under age 50, a typewriter was a machine for writing. It produced scrolls written in ancient Greek that we tied with string and sealed with wax.

You had to wear a toga when you used a typewriter, and if you sniffed while you typed your papers, you’d get high on the White-Out.

That would put you in the perfect mood for watching the movie Animal House or Breakfast Club, popular films in the ‘80s, the last decade in the era of typewriters.

Speaking of breakfast, did you know that danishes were invented in Denmark? And so were Legos and socialism. To be honest, I don’t know where socialism was invented, but the Danes have raised it to an art form. Socialism means all government services are free, and by free I mean you don’t have to pull out your credit card when you go to the doctor or the daycare center because it’s paid for by the government.

The lovely Danish flag

And by government I mean the people because there’s a 50% tax rate on a lot of citizens. So pay me now or pay me later, economically speaking. Or we could say, pick your poison, and the hemlock is either socialism or capitalism. But before you pick which economic system you want, remember that:

(1) Everyone in Denmark is happy despite the fact that . . .

(2) It’s pretty darn cold and dark there all winter and

(3) What are they drinking all winter that keeps them happy and warm?

(4) Is the booze also free, or is it provided by the government? You should get these questions answered before moving anywhere I suppose.

In winter, Denmark is one of the darkest, coldest places on the planet. There’s no way I could be happy in that environment. If Danes are happy, it’s because they’re sniffing something. Maybe Tipp-Ex.

Please weigh in. Do you have any British or Danish friends? Do they use words you don’t understand? And most importantly, would you rather be too hot or too cold?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *