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  • Pricey Bangers and Mash, Lads: Speaking English and Surviving in London

    So, you’ve been learning English a while but when you went to London you could hardly understand a word or you have an English friend who seems to be speaking a different language. Does this sound familiar? Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw famously said that “England and America are two countries separated by a common language.”

    English spoken in London contains many informal words and slang expressions that need to be explained to students. Here is a brief guide on what you need to know to communicate. The list is endless but if you can understand the following examples you are making a good start:

    1. Food

    –  In London you will here many words to refer to something as simple as food. Among these are “grub” and “nosh.”

    –  A quality meal generally eaten in a restaurant is called “A slap up meal.”

    –  A sausage and mashed potato dish is called “Bangers and mash.”

    –  Whole potatoes are called “spuds.”

    – French fries are called “chips.”

    – Potato chips are called “French fries.”

    – A thinly sliced meat sandwich is called a “bacon sarnie.”

    – Dessert is called, “afters.”

    – The fruit conserve called jelly in the US in London is called “jam.”

    – Sugary gelatine is called “jelly.”

    2. Clothes

    Clothes also have a vocabulary of their own in London:

    – A sweater is called “a jumper.”

    – Trousers are called “pants.”

    – Athletic or running shoes are called “trainers.”

    – Lingerie for women are “knickers.”

    – A small purse worn around the waste to carry money is called a “bum bag.”

    –  A plastic pin to hang clothes to dry is called a “clothes peg.”

    3. Social Situations

    – Working class Londoners from the east side of the city can sometimes be referred to as “cockneys.”

    – How are you? is often said as “Alright?”

    Thank you can be said as “ta.”

    – Friend can be referred to as “mate” or “pal.”

    – A man can be called a “bloke” or “lad.”

    – You might here someone’s surprise expressed as “blimey!”

    – An argument is called a “row.”

    – If someone is a good person he/she might be called “sound.”

    – If something is really great, it might be called “wicked” or “massive.”

    – If a girl is attractive she is called “fit.”

    If a person is unattractive (either male or female) they are called “minging.”

    – When a person is telling their friends they are leaving, they say, “right lads, I’m off.”

    – Bye can be said as “cheerio” or “cheers.”

    –  Bathroom is “loo.”

    4. Money

    – Money can be called “dosh” or “doe.”

    – A British Pound can be called “a quid.”

    – If something is expensive, people say “it’s a bit pricey.”

    5. Some phrases

    – If you are very tired, “I’m knackered.”

    – When someone is very surprised, “You could have knocked me down with a feather (meaning, I was so shocked, even a small bird’s feather could have made me fall to the ground).”

    – If someone orders more food than they can eat they say, t”heir eyes are bigger than their belly (or stomach).”

    – Sleep well can be said as “sleep tight.”

    – Do you want a cup of tea? can be asked as, “do you want a brew?”

    Let’s enjoy some London English at its finest with this video of cockney boys, The Clash, with their classic, London Calling:

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