Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Rerun: Watch your English

More for the driving rhythm and early-punk music than for the lyrics, I have always liked the Sex Pistols' song "God Save The Queen."  My many English and Anglophile friends will forgive me; I promise you it's the music and not the disloyal-to-the-royals theme of the song that so enchants me.  I wish all connected to the House of Windsor the best of health and happiness.  I just need jumpy music to drive to.

Now, if you clicked on the link and heard the song, which dates back to 1977, you might have had some trouble discerning the lyrics, as growled by lead singer Johnny Rotten.  One verse has always interested me, as a lover of the English language:

When there's no future
How can there be sin
We're the flowers in the dustbin
We're the poison in your human machine
We're the future, your future
We call it "Public Housing," while the
English say "Council Estates."
For all of us who love metaphors, how can you top the lament of a disconnected generation, feeling that they are flowers tossed into a dustbin?  Especially knowing that dustbin is what the British call a trashcan.  And it sounds so much nicer!  "Could you hand me that dustbin, please!" is so much more genteel than "Gimme dat trashcan, wouldja?"

I think that with few exceptions (in America, à la mode means you get ice cream atop your pie, and in England, it means "fashionable"), English English sounds so much nicer and better-bred.  We have news "anchors," which sound like they are dragging everything all to Helena Handbasket, while the British have "presenters."  How nice!  They present you the news!

In England, "graft" means hard work; in America, it means payoffs and political corruption (SEE:  AGNEW, Spiro T.)

An English hooker is the person in the middle of a rugby play. An American hooker will play rugby with you, all right, but it costs a lot extra.

The first floor in England's buildings would be what we call the second floor, which makes a big difference if you need to jump.

Across the pond, a bureau is a writing table, where people sit down and compose lovely letters to each other ("My dearest Wilberforce...") and over here, it's where we keep our underwear, including the boxer shorts with the big rip in the seat that we just can't bear to throw in the ...dustbin!


Sridhar Chandrasekaran said...

You have such an interesting blog. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed reading your posts. All the best for your future blogging journey.

Mark said...

Thank you very much, Sridhar! I try to make it interesting. Have a wonderful day!