Top Ten Funny Things Americans Say to Brits

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Here's an amusing list of the top ten funny things that Americans say to Brits, as said by Stephen Fry Ricky Gervais (this is posted in honor of my spouse, who is British, who is celebrating his birdday today);

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ummm, Ricky Gervais...?

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 18 Feb 2010 #permalink

It seems to me that this is Ricky Gervais and rather certainly not Stephen Fry. Doesn't really detract from the laughs, but still. ;) And happy B-day to BobOH!

Eh, only five of them were really funny. He recycled the "speaking English vs. American" joke three times, and the teeth joke twice.

The best one, IMHO, was the joke about smoking. :-)

Can you get your spouse to admit which birthday it is

By Bob's Big Brother (not verified) on 18 Feb 2010 #permalink

I liked the "Smoke a Fag" joke. I can think of too many places in the US where the answer would be "Let me get my gun and I'll join you."

Happy Birdday, Mr.
By the way, the HBO special they were plugging really really stunk, IMHO. I was predisposed to like it, but it was excruciatingly bad. It felt phony from start to finish.

hmm... the language difficulty reminds me of the time we were in a cab in Glasgow and not understanding a word the cabbie said. After the ride, we asked our Brit brother-in-law (from Bristol) what was said. His response? "Not a clue, I couldn't understand a word. I think he might be from Liverpool."

As Donna points out, there is not a single "British" accent but several dozen regional accents. In Pygmalion/My Fair Lady, Prof. Henry Higgins claims to be able to infer any Englishman's place of origin to within six miles, and in most cases to within two miles, just by hearing that person speak English. That was before motorcars were widely available and was probably an exaggeration even in Victorian times, but accents do vary widely with location.

Many Americans are familiar with the Oxbridge and BBC accents (the latter is typical of middle to upper class Londoners; the former sometimes crops up in academic circles). Some of the regional accents are easier to understand than others. I know people who have reported problems with Welsh and West Midlands accents. I'm not so familiar with accents of the north, but I'm not surprised by Donna's anecdote--either that her BIL could guess the cabbie's city of origin or that he couldn't understand the cabbie.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 18 Feb 2010 #permalink

although several linguistic studies have shown that certain regional Scots accents (close to Inverness) have been shown to exhibit the best diction when speaking English...

when I was first commissioned in the British military, a substantial number in my platoon were from Glasgow, and although I am half Scottish and was schooled in the north of Scotland, I had no clue whatsoever about what they were saying and although my Platoon Sergeant happened to be from Edinburgh (he and I could communicate with no problem) even he had trouble with the other Jocks!

worst thing though, was that local Chinese carry-out was called "Sik Tek Fok", which replicates exactly a Jock complaining about what he's just eaten!

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 18 Feb 2010 #permalink

oh, dang! i knew i'd screwed up the comedian ID as soon as i was out of wifi range. that'll teach me to write about stuff after i've had "a few" beers .. maybe there should be a new law: don't drink and blog?

Happy brrdday to your spouse. :)

@Jesse: Back in the old days it was common to have some guy just walk up to you and say "hey buddy, can I bum a fag?" (which seemed to turn to "bum a smoke" in the 1970s) "I'm all fagged out" was another common phrase. A faggot was a small log (well, we reserved 'log' for something big that you could turn into a bench or build a house out of) so I guess a cigarrette was a really small faggot. I have no idea when 'faggot' became 'homosexual'. Anyway, log fires (despite the name) were generally made with faggots and although most people I knew would say "throw more logs onto the fire", a few did say "throw on another load of fags".

By MadScientist (not verified) on 19 Feb 2010 #permalink

My mum is in her seventies now but still has a fag on the quiet, when she thinks no-one catches her. She mostly has one in the kitchen before the rest of us get up but once I walked in and caught her in flagrante delicto. She was finishing off said fag by screwing its poor little butt into the plughole. It wss a deeply unpleasant experience from which I am sure I shall never recover. Curiously, she used to chide us when we were younger with the phrase, "you naughty little faggot". Is it any wonder...

By mackerelsaladboy (not verified) on 27 Feb 2010 #permalink