‘Hey fella, gotta ciggy?’, ‘Ah wor fair starved’, and ‘Were bis to? are just some of the phrases that you’ll hear if you live in Liverpool, York or Bristol. And yes, oddly enough, this is British English.
Many people who are used to the American accent (mostly due to films and series), especially those who’ve just landed, find British English a little more difficult. So in addition to arriving with some basic conversational English, it is important to know what kind of accent or dialect is spoken in the city where you will live.
As an introduction, we’ll begin with a video that goes over more than 20 English accents and has over 20 million views:
Upon arrival everyone hopes that BBC English is the standard, but this most often won’t be the case, as the United Kingdom is a multicultural place where many people migrate within the country, as well as emigrating from abroad, so there is enormous diversity. There are large areas where the accents are similar: Northern, Midlands, South East / London, South West, Wales and Scotland. But within these areas, the great historical cities – Bristol, Liverpool, Glasgow, York, etc. – have their own jargon, unique words and a particular way of speech that defines them.
Phrases you could hear in… Bristol (Bristle)
‘Awlrite me luvver? Ain´t seen you frages’ – How are you? Haven’t seen you in ages.
‘What, ee ain´t got no cacks on? – Why doesn’t he have any underwear on?
‘Diesel gettee if ee don´t shut up!’ – He will get beaten up if he doesn’t shut up.
‘Ee´s ginormous’ – That’s ginormous. (That’s smaller than gigantic, but bigger than enormous)
‘Get the ale in lad, I’m dying for a bevvie.’ – Get me a beer lad, I’m dying for one.
‘Our kid’s clobber is proper antwacky.’ – (That guy’s clothes are outdated)
‘Got these boss new trabs off me ma’ for Christmas.’ – (My girlfriend got me these trainers for Christmas.)
‘Ah’ve just bethowt missen’ – I’ve just remembered it.
‘Tha’d better stop chunterin’ – Stop being rude.
‘Wheers ta bahn?’ – Where are you going?
‘Cans’t tha thoil it?’ – You can’t think it’s worth buying that.
Londres (Cockney Rhyming)
‘Would you Adam and Eve it?’ – Can you believe it?
‘She has such long bacons.’ – She has such long legs.
‘Use your Loaf of Bread’ – Use your head.
‘I don’t know what he’s rabbiting about.’ – I don’t know what’s he talking about.
To finish up, here’s a monologue by Frankie Boyle, a famous comedian with an accent from Glasgow that… well, have a listen for yourself!
I’d be grateful if anyone wants to share information about other accents or dialects, so we can build on the article.
INTERESTING LINKS FOR THE UK DIALECTS:
- BBC – David Hasselhoff learns Bristolian (Audio)
- All the registered dialects of Great Britain (Interactive Map)
- Bristle Glossary [Bristol]
- Cockney Rhyming Glossary [London]
- Devon Glossary [South West]
- Yorkshire Dialect Dictionary
- Mintinit – typical Bristle idioms [Bristol]
- Top26 – The most used phrases by a Scouse [Liverpool]
- Amazon – “A Dictionary of Bristle” (libro)
- Online Translator to various English dialects
- Basic Cornish Phrasebook
- Slang Brittish for Americans
- Cockney Rhyming Dictionary (London)