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Jul. 11th, 2015


"Heavy Weather" and children's shoes

Hello again, everyone.  I've got a couple more questions I'd like to put out there, if I may.  First, in a British movie set in the 30s, one character tells another she's "making rather heavy weather of it."  Is that an expression Harry might use, or is it too old fashioned?  It's not something he says to anyone outloud, he's thinkng about something.  If that's too out-dated, is there a more modern equivalent or would he just think something like "making something out of nothing" or "mountains out of molehills."  Also, in my fic Rose Weasley is 3-years-old.  What kind of shoes would she be likely to wear on an everyday basis? Trainers, or something else?  The weather in the scene in question is warm and sunny, and Harry is watching her for the day and taking her to a zoo.  Here toddler's sneakers often light up with every step, but I looked on a couple websites and couldn't find any that lit up.  Is that not popular?

As always, thanks for all your help!

Jul. 4th, 2015



(no subject)

I've been wondering about the expression "you lot." I realize it's you (plural) and, I think, informal, but I'm curious about the tone it conveys. It's struck me as mildly dismissive -- perhaps humorously so -- whenever I've come across it, but maybe that's more to do with context. Can "you lot" be used neutrally?

ETA: Thanks very much, everyone. This was interesting and informative, as always.

Jun. 29th, 2015



incarceration, part 2


A million (okay: a little more than five) years ago I wrote in asking about jails, prisons, and how long you spend in them before you're tried. Yes, it's been five years, but I'm thinking about getting back to this thing, and I found the old post (yay!), and ... as near as I can tell reading the comments, they talk about where you go and how long you spend there once a formal charge has been brought against you. (I gather that like us in the United States, in the UK you are also entitled to a speedy trial ... and that what the courts consider "prompt" and "speedy" is often different to what civilians expect.)

What I still can't tell if I know is this: how long can they normally hold you before they have to formally charge you with something or let you go? Uncle Wiki seems to suggest it's normally 24 hours, with special circumstances making it possible to hold a person for 36 or even 38 hours - but in even special-er circs if the person is suspected of certain terrorism-related offences they can be held for as long as seven days before even being arraigned. So supposing it's the early 21st century and I'm locking Snape up--in what has turned out, over the years, to be a slight alternate universe--for crimes committed during the first Voldemort administration in the 1980s. [That is, there was def. a crime committed and they're holding Snape while they try to pin it on him.] On about the fourth day (as I've got it now), Another Character visits him in prison [in the remand area, apparently] and says, at one point, "Yes, you want me to be your star witness, but who's actually working on your defence? Who's representing you?" and Snape says "There's still been no charge." Of course one is horrified by this, but assuming they arraign him by about day six, is it completely out of the question?

What sort of defense lawyers do you suppose wizards have? (What sort of prosecutors, for that matter. Presumably there's a prosecution department at the Ministry - but as the Minister of Magic doesn't seem to be a part of the Queen's Government, who knows if his lawyers are crown prosecutors or what.)

Jun. 24th, 2015


Public Relations and summer camp

I've just started a new HP fic in which Harry owns the Chudley Cannons.  Teddy is 10 and will be attending a Quidditch camp for two weeks over the summer.  Is that sort of thing done in Europe?  (The camp will be at Beauxbatons, not Hogwarts, and kids from all over Europe will be attending.)  The fic is for a fest and based on a prompt, so Teddy going to the camp is not optional. Over here, summer camps are all over the place for every sport, activity, and/or interest immaginable, even the state police have a summer camp for young teens to learn about law enforcement and forensics and fitness, etc.  Harry reflects that he'd have given all the gold in his vault to have gone to a Quidditch camp for two weeks when he was a kid and is considering having the Cannons start up a summer camp for kids. I am still in the very beginning stages of the fic, so if summer camps for sports are not a usual thing in Europe, I can work it so that it's an idea someone decided to try after spending a term teaching in Salem.  My other question is who would Harry talk to within the Cannon regarding setting up a camp?  Over here, that'd probably be a public relations department, but I wanted to check what a department like that would be called in Britain before using it in the fic.

As always, thank you for your help!
green lion


useful resources

I'd like to mention a few common Britpicks which people probably won't ask about on here, because they aren't even aware that there's a problem

One is having characters stick a kettle on the hob, and/or having a kettle whistle. Except in the sort of rural area where the electricity supply is unreliable, few people have used a hob kettle in the UK since about 1970. A kettle here is an electrical device and they rarely whistle - they just switch off once they've boiled. It's conceivable that Potterverse wizards might still use hob kettles, as they are generally rather old-fashioned, but you won't find one in Muggle London.

Another is the use of American "soft" cider. In the UK cider is an alcoholic drink by definition, often *very* alcoholic. American soft cider would here just be called apple juice.

Britain does not have flying, bright fireflies (although they've been seen in Belgium). We have two or three species of a type of firefly called a glowworm, but with glowworms only the females produce lights, and the female don't fly (the males do, but they don't glow). So there are no little twinkly lights flitting about in the air - just great big lights like Christmas tree bulbs crawling about in the bushes (if you're lucky enough to see them - they're pretty rare).

Jun. 15th, 2015

khalulu, kanji


need a specific type of insult

Hello oh helpful ones!

I am in need of an insult which also has a meaning of "penis". In American English someone could be called a prick or a dickhead or a weenie, but I don't know if those are used in British English. I don't want to have someone actually call someone else this (it's more of a joke of "are you calling me a ___?") but it would be helpful to know how vulgar or pejorative the various possibilities are, and what the connotations are. (For example, a prick is a different kind of a person than a weenie is, arrogant and rude as opposed to weak and ineffectual, but both insults came from slang for penis.) I gather that pillock and plonker might be possibilities but I have no idea how those come across. It would be fine to have something which is relatively mild, or is raunchy but not hostile. I don't want to be more offensive than necessary. It's in the context of a competitive and raunchy but not hostile conversation. Characters in question are Harry and Draco in their early twenties.

Any help is appreciated!

Jun. 11th, 2015



(no subject)

Might George Weasley end a sentence with an interrogative "yeah?"? I have him telling someone "I’ll have her call you, yeah?”

ETA: Thanks very much, everyone, for your help and suggestions. The context is, some Muggles have come to George for help, and although he can't assist them directly, he knows that Hermione is able and willing (and has a telephone). It wasn't my intention that he sound discourteous, only casual and perhaps a bit breezy. "I'll ask her to ring you" will work.

ETA: Sorry if I'm beating a dead horse, but George does use "yeah" from time to time in canon. For example:

'Oh, get out of the way, Percy,' said Fred, 'Harry's in a hurry.'
'Yeah, he's nipping off to the Chamber of Secrets for a cup of tea with his fanged servant,' said George, chortling. (Chamber of Secrets)


'We won't be seeing you,' Fred told Professor Umbridge, swinging his leg over his broomstick.
'Yeah, don't bother to keep in touch,' said George, mounting his own. (Order of the Phoenix)

I'm not sure that I agree about George never being discourteous, but that's probably a subjective view.

May. 22nd, 2015



(no subject)

It seems to me that people -- at least journalists -- sometimes refer to the center of the British government as "Westminster," which I understand to mean the borough of London that contains 10 Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament. I've seen "Whitehall" used in the same way. Do the expressions differ in meaning or nuance? Would Hermione be more likely to use one or the other?

Thanks for your help.

ETA: Thanks, everyone. This is a wonderfully informative community.

Hermione is talking about a group of neo-Deatheater and their desire to blow up the government. "Westminster" it is.

May. 18th, 2015


Fairy tales and pumpkins

Hi folks! Two quick questions:

In British English, when you talk about "Cinderella," "Sleeping Beauty," etc., do you refer to them as "fairy tales" or "fairy stories"? As an American (who grew up with "fairy tales") I vaguely got it in my head that British English uses a different term than I do, but maybe this is one of those instances where I'm overcorrecting!

Second question, are pumpkins native to/traditionally grown in the UK? And are they strongly associated as a symbol of autumn the way they are the US? I tend to think of pumpkins as a more North American thing, but then again the HP books are full of pumpkin juice and pumpkin pasties and Hagrid's pumpkin patch... Does that mean pumpkins are in fact widely grown in the UK (and thus would work as a symbol of autumn in a fic where the time of year is important to the story)? Or is the prevalence of pumpkins in the HP world more about JKR kind of borrowing American Halloween/witchy images to populate in her wizarding world, even though they're not traditionally much of a British thing?

Thank you!

Apr. 15th, 2015

shadow frog


Inviting a non-relative over during the winter holidays

Would a British person invite a non-relative to a Christmas meal? (And if so, what would the meal be called?) Or would Boxing Day be more likely? Is there another more likely day near that? It would have to be a day when a festive family meal was likely.

If it's unlikely for this to occur, I'd like to get a feel for how surprising or unlikely it would be. (I know wizarding culture might be different, but I wanted to get a feel for the possibilities.)

ETA: Thank you so much for all the replies.

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