Things uncultured colonial hicks say

What the hell, I can have some fun with this:

It will shock none of you to discover that the vast majority of these complaints boil down to “Your regionalism is different from my regionalism, which steps on my in-group pecker when used in what I consider to be my territory!  BAWWWWW!”

What a Briton upset by an Americanism might look like

Before I go on, I’d like to wallow in the irony of “pragmatic” linguistic criticism coming from a nation so deathly afraid of their own fluids that they felt compelled to replace* the already absurdly-euphemistic “washroom” with the stunningly banal “water closet”.  Bear that in mind as we make our way down the list:

1. When people ask for something, I often hear: “Can I get a…” It infuriates me. It’s not New York. It’s not the 90s. You’re not in Central Perk with the rest of the Friends. Really.” Steve, Rossendale, Lancashire

If I’m asking a friend for a cup of his coffee, asking permission — “May I have a coffee, please?” is appropriate: it’s his coffee and he’s not obliged to give it to me.  If I’m ordering a coffee at Starbucks, I’m not asking permission: I’m conducting business.  “Can I get a coffee?”  “No, sorry, someone spilled bull semen in the water tank and the carafes are all inoperable.”

2. The next time someone tells you something is the “least worst option“, tell them that their most best option is learning grammar. Mike Ayres, Bodmin, Cornwall

Fair point.

3. The phrase I’ve watched seep into the language (especially with broadcasters) is “two-time” and “three-time“. Have the words double, triple etc, been totally lost? Grammatically it makes no sense, and is even worse when spoken. My pulse rises every time I hear or see it. Which is not healthy as it’s almost every day now. Argh! D Rochelle, Bath


4. Using 24/7 rather than “24 hours, 7 days a week” or even just plain “all day, every day”. Simon Ball, Worcester


5. The one I can’t stand is “deplane“, meaning to disembark an aircraft, used in the phrase “you will be able to deplane momentarily”. TykeIntheHague, Den Haag, Holland

“The one I can’t stand is ‘disembark’, meaning to debark from an aircraft, […]”.

6. To “wait on” instead of “wait for” when you’re not a waiter – once read a friend’s comment about being in a station waiting on a train. For him, the train had yet to arrive – I would have thought rather that it had got stuck at the station with the friend on board. T Balinski, Raglan, New Zealand

Another fair point.  So far we’re batting two for six — oh, I’m sorry, was that analogy too American for you?

7. “It is what it is“. Pity us. Michael Knapp, Chicago, US

BAWWWWW!  “Pity me, I’m desperate to be recognized as sophisticated and European but lack the testicular fortitude to actually move to Europe!”

8. Dare I even mention the fanny pack? Lisa, Red Deer, Canada


9. “Touch base” – it makes me cringe no end. Chris, UK

BAWWWWW!  By the way, what’s the deal (HAH!  Gotcha) with all the dropped prepositions?  In Den Haag, one doesn’t debark from an aircraft, one disembarks an aircraft.  In the UK, one cringes no end, rather than to no end.  And then, if No. 4. is to be believed, one bitches and moans about people from other countries using too few syllables.

10. Is “physicality” a real word? Curtis, US

I know!  Let’s ask the internet!

11. Transportation. What’s wrong with transport? Greg Porter, Hercules, CA, US

Verb, noun… same shit, different pile, amirite?

12. The word I hate to hear is “leverage“. Pronounced lev-er-ig rather than lee-ver -ig. It seems to pop up in all aspects of work. And its meaning seems to have changed to “value added”. Gareth Wilkins, Leicester

Woe-tah close-it”.

13. Does nobody celebrate a birthday anymore, must we all “turn” 12 or 21 or 40? Even the Duke of Edinburgh was universally described as “turning” 90 last month. When did this begin? I quite like the phrase in itself, but it seems to have obliterated all other ways of speaking about birthdays. Michael McAndrew, Swindon

Perhaps the celebration and the point in time are not so inextricably linked as to demand a single word to refer to both?

14. I caught myself saying “shopping cart” instead of shopping trolley today and was thoroughly disgusted with myself. I’ve never lived nor been to the US either. Graham Nicholson, Glasgow


15. What kind of word is “gotten“? It makes me shudder. Julie Marrs, Warrington

Another fair point.  We’re down from .333 to .200, though.

16. “I’m good” for “I’m well”. That’ll do for a start. Mike, Bridgend, Wales


17. “Bangs” for a fringe of the hair. Philip Hall, Nottingham

Particularly amusing as Mr. Hall couldn’t come up with an appropriately British word for “bangs”, but felt compelled to complain nevertheless.

18. Take-out rather than takeaway! Simon Ball, Worcester


19. I enjoy Americanisms. I suspect even some Americans use them in a tongue-in-cheek manner? “That statement was the height of ridiculosity“. Bob, Edinburgh

Appending a question mark to a declarative statement may not be the height of ridiculosity, but it serves to undermine Bob’s complaint about grammar.

20. “A half hour” instead of “half an hour”. EJB, Devon


21. A “heads up“. For example, as in a business meeting. Lets do a “heads up” on this issue. I have never been sure of the meaning. R Haworth, Marlborough

Four for twenty-one.

22. Train station. My teeth are on edge every time I hear it. Who started it? Have they been punished? Chris Capewell, Queens Park, London

This complaint betrays an amusing level of herbivory.  Mr. Capewell complaints that someone must have started to use “train station”, and insists that they be punished — assuming an advanced level of agency upon their part.  However, whenever he hears the term, he suddenly finds that his “teeth are on edge”.  Does he set his own teeth on edge?  Hardly!  If he did, he might be able to stop himself from doing so.  The thought that he might have agency of his own abhors him– er, I mean, is abhorrent to him.  Stupid colonial me and my active voice.

Oh, nearly forgot: BAWWWWW!

23. To put a list into alphabetical order is to “alphabetize it” – horrid! Chris Fackrell, York


24. People that say “my bad” after a mistake. I don’t know how anything could be as annoying or lazy as that. Simon Williamson, Lymington, Hampshire

Another fair point, though the hyperbole betrays either a weak imagination or a weak hand at composition.

25. “Normalcy” instead of “normality” really irritates me. Tom Gabbutt, Huddersfield

Say it with me, folks: BAWWWWW!

Okay, I’m bored now.


* Wikipedia informs me that “water closet” is not a modern novelty, but rather a euphemistic term of significant pedigree.  To which I reply: (a) what do you expect from some dumb hick from the colonies? and (b) it’s still stunningly banal.


12 Responses to “Things uncultured colonial hicks say”

  1. July 22, 2011 at 02:03

    There is a point about “fanny pack”.
    In the USA, “fanny” means “posterior”
    In the more British countries, “fanny” means “vagina”.
    Hence referring to a belt mounted carrying container as a “vagina pack” can be a bit wince inducing.

    • July 22, 2011 at 13:32

      And if that was happening, I’d have commented upon it. However, “fanny pack” was submitted from Red Deer, Alberta, Canada — about 150km south of Edmonton, where I grew up — and where “fanny” means neither “ass” nor “pussy” in the vernacular. I imagine the term was too delicious for The Beeb’s editor to pass up, though, regardless of the fact that it carries no unintended titillation whence it was submitted.

  2. 3 Edge Bobby
    July 22, 2011 at 08:48

    Dude got pretty worked up over a jokey article. Sounds like he has some sand in his fanny.

  3. 5 ISH
    July 23, 2011 at 06:02

    My, how very 1858 the BBC is these days… perhaps this could be spun-off into a film about a boorish American yokel who travels to England to meet his British cousin? Hijinks could ensue.

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