Talking British

I had to stifle a laugh a few years ago when a new bar popped up on the hippest street in my homecity. The source of my amusement? The name: Ming. To many, it might sound like a trendy Asian name for a trendy Asian hangout, but to me and anyone else who tends to throw British slang into everyday conversation, Ming means something else: Stinky and/or unattractive. For instance, if you pick up a dirty shirt from the laundry hamper and sniff it, you might say, ‘Ewwww, this mings.’ Or if mustachioed lothario was sending sultry looks your way at you local (pub, that is) you might say to your friends, ‘Ugh, he is so minging.’

I was always so Brit-savvy. In my younger years, a bloke (guy) who I was planning on meeting up with told me he would ‘knock me up.‘ I was stunned at his audacity and told him so in a few choice words, but found out later it was entirely innocent — he merely meant he would pop round to where I was staying and knock on the door. On the other hand, some elderly British relatives of mine went a little red in the face when I declared that I was wearing my nicest pants. To them, pants are underwear and those long things that go down to your ankles are trousers. Whoops.

If you’re planning on travelling to the UK, or even if you’re not and want to sound a bit more worldly, brush up on your Britspeak with this post. It’s worth it — even though English is the national language there, things still sometimes get lost in translation.