9 Weird British Expressions Illustrated

Posted on Dec 6 2016 - 9:54pm by Marilyn Vinch

9 Weird British Expressions Illustrated

One of the beautiful things about travelling is the opportunity to be submerged in another culture’s language. If you’re familiar with a bit of Spanish or French, it is rewarding to battle your way through the occasional shop transaction without just using the international language of ‘louder English’. In bars and on public transport, it can be fun to figure out at least the subject that people are talking about – it doesn’t feel intrusive when you don’t have a clue what they’re actually saying about it.

In more far-flung places with languages that rarely cross the borders, it can be liberating to hear verbal sounds and emphases you’ve never heard before. You really get an idea of how strange and wonderful the very concept of language is when you literally can’t understand a word. And communication becomes about something deeper than words – and hopefully more patient!

But make your way to Great Britain, and it’s a whole new experience again. Of course, we’re all familiar with London accents and at least a smattering of sanitized southern slang that travels around the world smuggled in British film and music. Travel a little further afield, though, and something strange happens. If you can figure out the words that they’re saying in Glasgow, Keighley or Formby, you’ll recognize most of them as familiar English. But the sentences that they are found in seem to be part of a strange code that only people from certain parts of certain counties can understand!

“You’re all bum and parsley,” “you’re peckin’ me ‘ead,” “that’s the badger!” – what on earth are these tea-swilling lunatics talking about? Well, you can turn up prepared to deal with all manner of strange utterances by first taking a peek at this infographic from Sykes Cottages. Britain is going to be a ye olde linguistic adventure like no other – so here’s a guide to some of the odd expressions you’ll hear uttered on those fair isles.


Marilyn Vinch
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Marilyn is a freelance writer and a digital nomad currently based in London, England. She enjoys reading (and writing!) about being a digital nomad, expat life, travel and work/life balance.