Most people I know have seen the movie, Love Actually. Remember the part where Colin decides to try finding love in the USA? After he gets to Wisconsin, Colin meets up with Stacey, Jeannie, and Carol-Anne, “three stunningly attractive women who fall for his Basildon accent”. Actually, that swooning over accents is sort of me. I could easily sit around playing “you say tomato and I say tomahto” for hours. And with books, I get to indulge in an variation of this fascination.
After reading an extremely well liked book by an British author (review coming, I promise!), I have been on a glom of other books written by authors across the sea. One reason is the language. Now, I rarely fall for the lyrical beauty of prose. It is not that I don’t appreciate it, but I am a fast reader, so I tend not to dwell as much on the elegant combination of words. However, I do notice colloquial speech, slang,or descriptive new words. Right now, I am loving British/Australian/Irish/Canadian expressions. For the most part our lives are very similar. We go to work, visit friends, watch television, party at clubs,fall in love. How we differ, such as en suite, or master bedroom, fish and chips, hamburger and fries, Chicken Parmy and pommes, Marmite,vegemite, mushy peas is engrossing to me. I might never get to visit these countries, but I feel like I have a snapshot view of the culture through books.
One of the most amusing parts is the slang. From the books that I have read recently, I discovered that dog diarrhea can be called slurry, layoffs are redundancy. Plus bollocks, and oh sot it, sound so much more exotic then my standard expressions.
Of course, it doesn’t even have to be foreign authors. One American author put in the expression “isn’t that skippy”? Of course I knew what it meant, but I am thinking where in the world did this come from. It is like skipping joyfully across a playground or taken from the love of Skippy peanut butter? Is this a Northern expression or Southern?
I not saying that I love all idioms. Authors can overload a book with them. And I have to be honest, I quit a couple of authors because the same expression showed up in almost every book. And the main allure for me is with English expressions, allowing me to imagine the place and its history.
I spent my early childhood in the Southwest, but both my parents were raised in the South. “Bless your heart” is out of my mouth before I realize it, along with, “Oh, for crying out loud.” So when an author uses these expressions in her book, it is like a touch of home.
How about you? Are you as fascinated with cultural and regional terminology? Do you say “He doesn’t know beans when the bag’s untied!” or “She needs some fries to go with that shake” or he is plonker or nong? When I asked some of the other reviewers how they describe someone who not all there (I tend to say he is dumber then dirt) I got a lot of different variations: A kumara short of a hangi, dumb as a box of hammers, dumb as a box of rocks ,dumber than a fence post, not the brightest bulb in the box, has a few crayons missing from his box, a few french fries short of a Happy Meal. What expressions are used in your community? Do these add to books for you or bring you out of the story? What are some of your favorite sayings you have come across in books?
– Leigh Davis