“That’s a real pisser!” Mini said to me.
Whoa…what do you mean that’s a real pisser? I am no Lily Librarian. I have seen and heard a fair amount in my life but I didn’t expect my ten year-old to use the word pisser straight in my face.
“My coach used it the other day. I don’t even know what it means. I just assumed it was another British term.” Mini said with a puzzled look.
Ahh, the British and those who were colonized by the British, they still puzzle me a little too. They are the largest group of expats in the UAE. Many have lived here for years, and although we share the English language, I usually struggle to comprehend. Just when you think you understand what is going on, you realize you don’t have a clue.
Mini attends a British school and the first week was a challenge.
“Mom, we are growing aukra in school for a project!” What the hell is aukra? I was raised on a farm with a garden the size of a yard plot but I am clueless. What the hell is aukra? Aukra? What are you talking about?
“I don’t know.” Mini said with another puzzled look. “I just think it’s cool that we are growing something.”
aukra.aukra.aukra.okra. OKRA! You are growing okra!
There’s always the little misunderstandings like the time I thought the British mom was picking up Mini from school. I thought all was good until I received the call from school.
“Hello Mrs. Dillon? The school is getting ready to close and we need for you to pick up your kid.” I thought the British mom was picking him up! I swear that is what she said to me. “Well, apparently not.”
“Mom, my English teacher says that I am not making good use of ad-ject-ives and it is going to bring my grade down.”
Ad-ject-ive I repeat it over and over in my head. Ad-ject-ive…. hmmm. I am a writer, not a professional one at all, but I should know what an ad-ject-ive is — what the heck?!?
“I just thought it was something I hadn’t learned yet. There’s lots of new words I haven’t learned.” Mini said.
Trainers. Boots. Kits. Would you like some tea and biscuits? Carpark. Trolley. Lift. The boys will be shattered this evening! Snog. Lollies. Gutted. I’m going away for a fortnight.. Lovey. Bits. Rubbish. Cheerio Mate! Wanker. Hunky-Dory. Tosh. Oh, that’s brilliant!
They all have a new meaning. Not at all what we in the USA believe them to be but one thing is certain everything sounds more authoritative and far more formal when it comes from the mouth of a Brit.
“Lovey, would you care for some tea and biscuits? I am always keen for an afternoon tea. It would be brilliant if we could meet up over at the new cafe opposite the market.” Coming from their mouth it’s as if the Queen told them personally to deliver this news to me.
Everything sounds so precise and far more thoughtful, as if I am living in the world of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang except…. wait for it….. when they use the ever-confusing term cock up which doesn’t sound good coming from anyone’s mouth.
Mini, I am very sorry about that terrible mix-up. Mommy cocked up. Mommy will never cock up this big ever again! You have my promise.
This is probably the only time I could use cock up in a sentence without feeling like I am part of a San Fernando Valley home production.
I went to a ladies luncheon the other day and I was the only American in villa full of British ladies. The louder it became the less I understood. The accents ranged from Mick Jagger to Downtown Abbey to Princess Dinar to one of the Beatles to the Spice Girls. The only way I found to survive the ordeal was to talk more than anyone else because I realized they all understood me but I could not understand them. It seemed completely unfair. They can understand me — but I cannot understand them. What are you saying to me?!?
“What the bloody heck is going on here?” Mini said to the dog. The fact that he is smarting the dog didn’t alarm me but the word bloody always creates a slight panic in a mother.
Bloody?!? What is bloody? I said with growing anxiety.
“It’s bloody, Mom. Not bloody. Just bloody. No reason to panic.”
Whew! Mate, thank god it was just a little cock up.
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3 thoughts on “That’s a Pisser”
I recall these nice ladies trying to help me use the laundromat in London many years ago. They, too, understood me. However, I failed to comprehend anything they said to me. I knew they were speaking English, but not the English with which I was familiar, and I was married to someone who spoke English with a British accent from a former colony.
I should have added that one of my senior students was sent to the office the other day for using the phrase “pissed off”. The teacher, not I, considered the phrase profanity apparently. It is not one I use or of which I am fond, but really!!
Well, I think idioms & a few vocabulary makes Americans feel that they don’t understand Brits; otherwise, English is the same. As I also fathom the difference in the use of grammar, I’d like to make it clear that not too much of it is different. If Americans can’t understand Brits, Brits can’t understand Americans too at times due to the usage of Idioms and not English in whole.