Friday 18 March 2011

How to Talk Posh IV

Here are some phrases to weave into your conversation (continued from How to Talk Posh, II and III):

...of catastrophic proportions
...whatever that means!
...who has so far eluded us

a bit iffy
a bit insalubrious
a bit of a frost
a bit uncalled for
a certain hollowness
a distinct disadvantage

abiding pleasures
absolute hell
ah, the classic ....
all very fine and large
an absolutely ghastly hat
an immense amount
and then we foregather at the cottage
answer came there none
appears to have
Apslootly! (absolutely)
aquapuncture (for acupuncture)
as far as I'm concerned
as I recall
as is my wont
at a low ebb
august journal

And here's how to be genteel...

back on an even keel
bailing me out
bang in the middle
banking on
belated attempt
bitten by the hang-gliding bug AB
bog (for toilet)
bore a striking resemblance
boring beyond belief
bowels of the earth
bring forth
budding laureates
bunged me into hospital
burning issues of the day

chilled to the bone
classic error
cockers pee (for cocktail party)
come down with Dutch elm disease (references are always out of date)
come Michaelmas
commensurate with
commme d'habitude
copious amounts of...
cost a bomb
crackling merrily
crashing bore
cringingly embarrassing
crush/bash/thrash/throng (for party)

Dare I say it
darkest Pimlico
dead chuffed
deathly hush
depression sets in
disembark in the nick of time
dispiriting (it was all rather dispiriting)
distinct impression (I got the distinct impression)
dizzy heights
do a X
doing your slightly insulting number/bit
Don’t be damned stupid.
Don’t make life difficult
Don’t talk to ME about...
Don't all speak at once!
down in the bowels of the earth
down with bubonic plague
drastically reduced
draw a veil over
driven barmy

eating irons (knives and forks)
emboldened to ask
engrossed in a book
ensconced in the sitting room
exceptionally stroppy

faintly off her head
fallen by the wayside
fell on stony ground
filthy lucre
flare up
follow suit
for my sins
for some unknown and obscure reason
for the nonce
force to be reckoned with
frantic search
from cover to cover
from some august, farflung journal
frozen north

gave him bottled hell
gave up the unequal struggle
generous allocation
given that...
given the boot
go berserk
God forbid!
golly gosh!
got lumbered with

haven't got a bean
hells bells
hides a multitude of sins
hold the fort
How are you? Oh, surviving.
How very enterprising of them!
Hysteria's a funny thing.

I am in a position to...
I assumed a nightdress
I begin to revive
I can already hear a chorus of
I do see what you mean.
I dread to think
I endeavour to...
I find dressing up a bit of a grind. AB
I haul myself out of bed with reluctance
I knew not how
I may well do
I mean
I must be getting forgetful in my old age.
I nearly had a heart attack
I plucked it gingerly from the mat
I promise to throw myself into a veritable frenzy of epistolary efficiency forthwith.
I rather gathered that.
I read with interest
I say
I simply loathe... (overstatement)
I suppose
I surely will do
I take your meaning
I think
I thrust her lunch at her and she departs
I volunteered/vouchsafed the information that
I wander around the garden
I was literally petrified.
I was riveted.
I was somewhat irate.
I wonder if Michael Portillo's going to be there with collecting bucket (Web overheard)
I’ll do just that
I’ll have a dekko
I’m all for...
I’m doing a spot of accounting
I’m first and foremost a...
I’m literally...
I’ve just had the most hideous thought
if they so wished
I'll do a recce
I'm all for...
I'm first and foremost a...
I'm going to be inundated. (A lot of people are coming to stay with me.)
I'm literally...

immersed in a newspaper
improve the shining hour
in a funny sort of way
in durance vile
in evidence/much in evidence
in full swing
in hot pursuit
in one fell swoop
in orbit
in that quarter
In the dim and distant past
in the fullness of time
in the nick of time

indulge in: heavy petting, horseplay, the most extraordinary antics in order to get noticed, ritual slaughter, feminist politics...

inexpressibly dreary
inflict: I don’t want to inflict myself on you
inmost secrets
intrepid new members

It was a bonus.
It was a major event (something utterly trivial)

keep sane
keeping/putting a brave face on it
kind of
kiss of death
laden with various foodstuffs
learnt a particularly painful lesson
less than charitable
like a lost soul
looks like a deranged tortoise
looks like the wrath of God/a bomb has hit it/ the wreck of the Hesperus
Lord help us!

made the effort to put pen to paper
making inroads into the mashed potatoes
manoeuvre yourself
marked lack of success
mass exodus
migrating throng
mindblowingly awful
mindless monotony of strikes/violence
more accomplished
much given to
muttered something about...

my epic novel
My eyes have been opened.
my own humble opinionmyriad activities

nearest and dearest
neck of the woods
no bones broken
No names, no pack drill
No thank you very much!
not exactly a howling successnot madly...
not particularly edifying
not very inspiring
nothing would induce me to

of any description
of catastrophic proportions
of that nature
Oh, my sainted aunt!
on a bed of sickness
on its last legs
on the blink
on these occasions
one dreads...
one of life’s abiding pleasures
only a solitary Oxfam shop
or whatever
or words to that effect
organised chaos

our illustrious/humble abode/palatial residence
our venture
out of all proportion
overwhelming support
overwhelmingly ghastly
owing to the exigencies of two small children...

Panic not!
panic stations
park your bottom
part of the world (place)
peace supervened
peculiarly revolting
pertains to

positively gasping (hungry)
prepared to divulge
profuse apologiesprofusely grateful
quite astonishingly horrid
quite considerably
quite why...

rather grim
round off

screech to halt
See you anon!
seem to
seems to be a sort of
She always looks a hollow million.
She finally attains the phone
sheer coincidence
sick of the palsy
sit thee down
Sit ye down/sit yourself down
sleeping the sleep of the just
slightly spectacular style (litotes)
so hungry we were positively gasping
somewhat tatty and wormeaten

sort of
sort of thing
speculation was rife
squirelly bananas (mad)
staggeringly nasty
stick out like a sore thumb
stood awkwardly to attentionstrangely enough
stricken in years
strict instructions
Stygian gloom
such a bore
such was my alacrity in grabbing these proffered sums of money
suitably contrite
summon up the energy

take a pew
tend to
thank you very much
that was my master plan
the apparatus (knives and forks)
the bitter end
the classic symptoms
the contemporary opera thing
the domestic front
the dreaded...
the frozen north
the habits of a lifetime
the infamous...
the kiss of death
the lesser spotted...
the mysterious/dreaded/famous/infamous...
the order of the day
the proverbial (not a proverb)
the scales fell from my eyes

there was this man
they are mostly bills which I glance at with a shudder
they demolished the...
they stood awkwardly to attention
thin on the ground
things seem to tend to
this I do insist
this must be one of these ... we hear so much about these days
to all intents and purposes
two of the more notable members of the...

under duress
under strict instructions
utterly riveting

various esteemed mandarins peered forth gloomily
vast sums
very much
waxing lyrical
We are not alone in ...
we glean from
we had a pile up of catastrophic proportions
weighty tomes
Well may it
Well, quite.
well-earned rest
whatever that means!
Who was possessed of...
who/which has so far eluded us
whole bang shoot
whole shooting match
whopping great
will remain permanently etched upon my consciousness
with impunity
with their customary alacrity
with which we shall be inundated
within the august portals
without undue effort
world class sweetie
Worry not!
would not come amiss
writhing in an agony of indecision

X has taken a dim view
X is in a bit of a state
xxxs galore

And here's how to be genteel...

How to Talk Posh I
How to Talk Posh II
How to Talk Posh III
How to Talk Posh IV

How to Talk Posh is now an ebook available

How to Talk Posh III

Here's some posh vocabulary (continued from How to Talk Posh and How to Talk Posh II):

Posh adjectives
actively nasty
basic (a bit basic: unluxurious flat/house)
drahstic (rather drahstic)
exiguous (it means small)
ghastly (how perfectly ghastly)
poky (too small or shabby flat/house)
simply dreadful
sordid (dirty, or finding dogbowl near cooker)
squalid (tatty surroundings)

Words for children

astonishingly (quite astonishingly horrid)
staggeringly (nasty)

It's not over yet...

How to Talk Posh is now an ebook available here. 

How to Talk Posh I
How to Talk Posh II
How to Talk Posh III
How to Talk Posh IV

How to Talk Posh II

Try talking like this - be far too elaborate. (Some of this is taken from Andrew Barrow’s
The Great Book of Small Talk.) Continued from How to Talk Posh.

Oh, that's absolute nonsense on stilts. Christine Hamilton Obs Apr 23 00

A few uplifting articles on positive values art, gardening, stately homes, acts of heroism would not come amiss.

Before I start on this tome I have to own up that history is not my forte.

Can I inflict myself on you? (May I sit here?)

Can I squeeze past? (Excuse me.)

Can we just insert ourselves here? (May we sit down?)

Cannibalism, deviants and questionable royal scandal seem to be the news of the day.

Charlotte was going through her pink period.

Cleopatra actually did not indulge in high jinks with a snake of any description.

Here I come, laden with various foodstuffs.

I accepted with alacrity—in fact I couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about the whole thing.

Of course we’re all bombarded with statistics these days.

Oh, lunch will feature. You can trust Alice for that.

I just took everything out of the fridge and threw it in an old icecream box. It could have been a complete disaster.

Is this an inopportune moment?

It decided to collapse at the psychological moment.

It's truer than you might think, I'm afraid.

I've just had the most hideous thought. AB

Sophia's in a bit of a state.

She really is an A1 sort of person.

She's a bright girl in a funny sort of way. AB

She's seriously holy.

She's unusually rubicund. AB

Shall we sally forth?

Shall we traverse one of these side streets, ya?

Shall we wander down and see if we can find something to eat?

The subject recrudesced later.

This surely smacked of something of a feat.

You may well ask!

Well, that was fortuitous!

You’re doing sterling work.

You’re in the nick of time!

More to come...

How to Talk Posh I
How to Talk Posh II
How to Talk Posh III
How to Talk Posh IV

How to Talk Posh is now an ebook available

How to Talk Posh

When mingling with the crowd at Ascot or Henley, do you want people to think you are an aristocrat? Why not talk like posh people:

Crikey, righty-ho, tiffin, yah, rah. Good show, old chep! How absolutely ghastly for you, old bean! You, sir, are a cad and a bounder! Rather, old thing, by George!

Do posh people talk like this?

No! No one has talked like this since the days of P.G. Wodehouse (circa 1920).

The Jeeves Omnibus - Vol 1: No.1

Posh people talk like this

People like the Stow Crats use overstatement and understatement. When talking about trivia, they exaggerate, using their well-known drawl. “We live in the wiiiiiilds of Sussex” or “daaaaaarkest Lincolnshire”. Oh no and exactly come out as “Eeeow neeeow!” and “Egzeakly!”

But when it really matters they understate. If they don’t like something they say “I’m not terribly keen on it ”. And if your mother was appalled: “Mummy wasn’t exactly thrilled.”

Everything is terribly, awfully frightful or ghastly. But if someone’s severely ill he’s “feeling a little sorry for himself”.

Some letters by the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire (the last of the Mitford girls) were published recently. A reviewer noted: “Their language - beastly, umpteenth, bags I, maddening, tiresome, conked out, 'killing' to mean 'funny', 'frightfully' to mean 'very' and so on - has a charm all of its own, but will soon seem as outmoded as 'gadzooks' or 'pshaw'.”

Brian Sewell, the art critic, gets his video retuned (and shows his aristocratic disdain for technology):
“A man came into my house the other day in order to fiddle about for an hour and a half. He utterly failed to understand either my standard video recorder or television. I finally produced the instructions and he still couldn’t make any sense of them. He kept getting on the phone to C5 and describing my machinery. Eventually, he felt compelled to put some little black box on the back of the video and told me that he’d done this in order to protect my present reception, but that under no circumstances would I be ever able to receive their undiluted crap. So I heaved a great sigh of relief and said “There you are, then. Off you go!”

Posh people don’t use modern slang. They don’t really notice fashion, and ignore popular culture. And they’re very (surprise, surprise) conservative, so their language doesn’t change very much. They’re fond of archaisms like whereby, thus, therefore and hence. But they also go in for baby talk: It was awfully expenny, I'll do a recce, have a dekko, a bit iffy, Seen my piccies? Was it a Chrissy pressy? Mind you don’t get wetty! See you soonsies!

More later...

How to Talk Posh I
How to Talk Posh II
How to Talk Posh III
How to Talk Posh IV

How to Talk Posh is now an ebook available

Thursday 3 March 2011

Choose Your Words Carefully 1

Does your vocabulary give away your class background?

When posh people can’t think of a word, or want to refer to something that’s beneath their notice, they call it a doofer or doobry. Middle-class Eileen Weybridge calls it a thingie, pronouncing the G. Upper-class Harry Stow-Crat refers to “the doings.”

Upper-middle Samantha Upward says “damn” or “bugger”. Her mother said “Oh, dash!” Caroline Stow-Crat says “sugar!”

Stow-Crat and Upward couples call each other “darling”, which makes all the other classes sick.

Sam calls the shop Marks and Sparks, Jen Teale and Eileen call it Marks, Caro never goes there.

Sam uses a lot of French phrases because it doesn’t occur to her that people might not understand them (joie de vivre, raison d'etre, de rigueur). The Stow-Crats obsess about their children learning French from the age of two because they’ll need it for skiing. Jen overcorrects foreign words and calls bruschetta “brooshetta”.

The Upwards and Stow-crats call all shades of blue-plus-red “purple” because lilac, violet, burgundy etc sound like colour names on a shade card. They’d say “primrose yellow” not “primrose”. They used to say “hairwash” for “shampoo” and “washing up machine” for “dishwasher” and “drying up cloth” for “teatowel” because shampoo sounds like a brand name, dishwasher sounds American and teatowel is inaccurate (and very Teale). Upwards still throw their rubbish into a “waste paper basket” and not a bin.

Sam tries to avoid neologisms and Americanisms. She would never use the word pants in the singular or call trousers anything but trousers. Her husband Gideon might say undercrackers for a laugh. Jen says knickers - her daughter Christine refers to undies, underwear or underpants.

Sam avoids Teale words like crispy, curvy, silky, herby, clicky because they sound like baby talk. And either something is made of silk or it isn’t. She thinks that Jen is mostly likely to talk like this, referring to tummies and botties, but there’s a certain kind of Stow Crat who says “We’ll meet soonsies”, and talks of Chrissy pressies and getting wetty in the rain.

More here, and links to the rest.

How to Talk Posh is now an ebook available here.