EXPRESS YOURSELF! By Rebecca Jackson
As some of my students know, I originally come from the USA. Specifically, I’m from Louisiana, but I’ve come by way of Baltimore, Maryland, where I lived for a few years before moving across the pond. Before arriving to Scotland I had been advised by other expats that had gone before me. I learned quickly that not all accents are the same, and that it was OK to ask for clarification when an accent was too thick for me to understand. I knew not to say “fanny” or “pants” in public. What I hadn’t been told, though, were the different uses of phrasal verbs. While this may seem trivial, it has actually resulted in a few, well, uncomfortable situations.
One of my more embarrassing encounters occurred while at a shop after I had been living in Edinburgh for nearly 2 years. I went to buy some special water-proofing detergent for my raincoat. There was a young guy working the till (20-ish years old), but he didn’t notice me approach the counter. So I asked, politely, “Hi, would you mind ringing me up?”
And he blushed. Like the wide-eyed, pink-cheeked emoji.
So there I was, holding an armful of 3 detergent bottles, and completely confused about what I did wrong. I finally asked, “Is that OK or should I go somewhere else?” To which he replied, “OH! You mean at the till… I thought you were asking me to call you.”
Then I proceeded to out-blush him and make things even more awkward and uncomfortable by saying, “That won’t be necessary.” I don’t think the pink left my cheeks until 15 minutes after leaving the shop.
Now, having lived in Edinburgh for four-ish years, I’ve definitely learned through experiences of trial and error. I’m sure there are still many “British-isms” that I’m unaware of, but, for your enjoyment, I’ve made a wee list of what I consider to be “Very British Phrasal Verbs.”
- “Just ring me up when you’re ready for a cuppa.”
- Rebecca’s translation: “Call me when you’re ready to meet for a coffee or tea.”
- “Did you sit your exam yesterday? How did you get on?”
- Rebecca’s translation: “Was your exam yesterday? How did it go?”
- Person A: “Would you like another biscuit?” Person B: “Oh, go on then!”
- Rebecca’s translation: “Would you like another cookie?” / “Yeah, sure! Why not?”
- “Come round to ours for tea at 8pm.”
- Rebecca’s translation: “Come to our house for dinner at 8pm.”
- “What are you on about?!”
- Rebecca’s translation: “What in the world are you talking about, you crazy person!?”
2) “Across the pond” is a common expression referring to the country across the Atlantic. When used by US English speakers, it typically refers to Great Britain, although it can also refer to other European/African countries.
3) A “thick” accent is another way to say a “strong” accent.
4) This is a special type of soap to use in the washing machine in order to protect your jacket against rain. In my personal experience, it doesn’t actually help that much in Scottish climate.
5)When your arms are holding something and are otherwise not free.
6) To “out-VERB” someone is when you exceed them in the given action. So, to “out-run” someone would be to run faster than them.