Lost in Translation


One day I may well get around to adding the obvious British:American translations (e.g. tap = faucet), but for now I shall just add terms as I come across them…

So try coming back to this page, or alternatively, if you are in dire need of an explanation of Bonfire Night, or Marmite or whatever, just leave a comment and let me know!

Bangers = Sausages. Depending on what sort of English society you are intending to mix in, this word may or may not need to be used with caution.  Suffice to say for 99% of the population, ‘bangers’ are sausages, preferably to be served with dreamy mashed potatoes, peas and onion gravy.  Personally, I prefer Gloucester Old Spot sausages (this being the breed of pig), but Cumberland sausages (made to a regional recipe with herbs) are also a delight.  For those of you who are familiar only with ‘sausage links’, the idea of a sausage connoisseur may be somewhat amusing, but if you’re visiting the UK, prepare yourself for a whole new culinary experience.  We even have “British Sausage Week” (for 2009 it is 2nd to 8th November) which conveniently coincides with that great British sausage-eating opportunity which we know as Bonfire Night (Guy Fawkes Night).  Oh.  And the other meaning of the word ‘bangers’?  Sometimes used to denote a lady’s bosom (see also Frontage and Chesticles).

Biccies = Cookies. Short for ‘biscuits’, the English biccie is not an American biscuit, but a cookie.  Confusingly, we have cookies too.  In general, our cookies are like American ones (choc chip etc) as they are a direct import.  But biscuits tend to be plainer (unless enrobed in chocolate) and better for dunking (see ‘dunking’!).  Examples of traditional English biscuits include Rich Tea (very plain biccie, very dunkable), Ginger Snap (crispy biccie, goes very soft on dunking, so be quick about it) and Digestive biscuits (sort of like Graham crackers but not quite).

Dunking = dipping English biscuits in tea. Dunking is something you only do in front of your closest friends.  Make a lovely cuppa, select your biccie, dip it in and eat immediately.  Do not dilly-dally else you will end up losing your biccie which will become mush at the bottom of your mug.  A particularly uncouth and delicious habit.  Coffee can be used, but it’s not really the same.

Regular = with a fixed frequency. In England, if you say regular, we assume you are talking about a repeating event.  “My regular Monday night book club”, for example.  Which means we are puzzled when you use ‘regular’ in a different context, such as to mean “ordinary” or “standard”.  So if someone asks me would I like a “regular Coke”, I am quite likely to say, “No, just this one please”.  In case I end up having to drink Coke at this time every Tuesday.  And when you say “he’s a regular guy”, I think you should know that there are certain Brits who may misunderstand, and think you are referring to his toilet habits (not in need of laxatives, then).  Confusingly, you may hear a Brit using “irregular” to mean “not ordinary” (or possibly even shocking), for example “he wears brown shoes with a black suit, you know.  Most irregular!”

Squash = Not as in a relative of the pumpkin (although we have those too).  A refreshing, thirst-quenching drink. Not juice, not cordial, but somewhere in between!  I suppose the nearest American equivalent might be Tang (although I seem to remember Tang is a powder rather than a liquid).  Many other flavours are available (my own personal favourite is Robinson’s Fruit & Barley, pear flavour.  Occasionally, you may be misled into thinking that it is primarily a drink for children (it tends to feature only in the Children’s section on cafe beverage menus), but this is entirely untrue, as most adults I know prefer squash to carbonated drinks.


3 responses to “Lost in Translation

  1. Pingback: From the heart… of England: In praise of the humble British Banger | Anglotopia

    • Grant

      Bangers – they are called bangers as when the UK was under seige during the war and supplies were being bombed out the ocean by Nazi U-boats, meat was in short supply and sausage content was supplemented with wheatmeal or what was basically bread. This absorbed the oil from the meat when it cooked and began to swell quite dramatically causing the sausage to bang. The practice (and still is today though only by the older generation as a legacy) to prick the sausage in several places as it was cooking to release the pressure.

  2. Pingback: From the Heart… of England: Shhhhhhh! TOP SECRET How to become a London Gent | Anglotopia

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