Smiling like Sunshine: My relationship with English and an exhibition

Thursday, 10 March 2011

My relationship with English and an exhibition

British Library

I started to learn English at the age of 12, after primary school in Turkey. I attended to a high school which was popular for the English education it provided.

In the prep class, we had 24 hours of English a week. Most lessons, including maths and science was in English.

Then, I studied economics; I went to a university where the language of education was English again.

I thought my English was very good.

When we came to England in 2006, I was shocked. Were these people speaking English? Or rather, did I know English?  I could barely understand a few words.
It took me some time to get used to the British accent.
About a year later, when I finally felt more confident in understanding the language, I started to learn about the accents and dialects of English.
I learnt that around here, they speak a "posh" English. And "up in the north", it is a whole different matter.
I started to learn the usage of typical British words.
I would like to share a few of them:

Sod's law : This is another name for Murphy's law - whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.

Quid - A pound in money is called a quid.

Morish - Also spelt "moreish", this word is used to describe desserts, when a single helping is simply not enough. You need more!

Gutted - If someone is really upset by something they might say that they were gutted.

Knackered- Exhausted

Blimey-An expression of surprise

Elevenses - a snack that is similar to afternoon tea, but eaten in the morning,around 11 am

Postie - is the postman.

Bloke - is a slang for man,guy

I really enjoy learning these  words and phrases. Since coming here, I realised how rich this language is. It seems I am not alone. The British Library is hosting the first ever exhibition to explore the English language in all its national and international diversity.

Evolving English: One Language, Many Voices is running until the 3rd of April. The exhibition will place iconic books and manuscripts alongside everyday texts and media to show the many social, cultural and historical strands from which the language has been woven.

Treasures such as the only surviving manuscript of Beowulf, Shakespeare ‘quartos’, the King James Bible, Dr Johnson’s dictionary and recordings of famous speeches by Churchill, Gandhi and Mandela will be on show— together with early examples of advertising posters, lists of slang, early newspapers from around the world, trading records, comics, adverts, children’s books, dialect recordings, text messages and web pages.

The project aims to shed light on one of the most talked and talked about languages in the world.

You can record your voice to add to the collection as part of the exhibition

And  there is a quiz on the website.  I scored 4/6. Not too bad, is it?  Can you beat my score?

British Library

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  1. Before my newlywed husband and I moved to Cork, Ireland he sent me a link to the Cork Slang Dictionary. I'm a native English speaker and thought I'd be fine, but Cork-ese is a whole other beast from Canadian english!

    For a laugh: The Cork Slang Dictionary

  2. Thx for your comment Michelle.I checked out the dictionary,really funny :)

  3. This is really interesting! (and I love the list of typical British words you've shared!) :)


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