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Hermione Duel

harmony_bites in hp_britglish

Some Terms?

I had a Britpicker for my own fic, but this time I'm a beta--for a fellow American--and it's been a long while since I was involved in Harry Potter. So, on the below:

Do you have the term "mad money" in Britain (ie, money you can spend on things you don't per se need, spending money?) How about "buss" for kiss? Up to snuff? Gumdrops? I once heard a Londoner say that "chit" isn't really a word a contemporary Brit would use. True? And another told me that no British adult would use "horrid." My Britpicker once told me that to use a phrase such as "right___" was a Disney Van Dyke thing and not something a Brit would use. But recently I was reading Emma Thompson's published diaries of filming Sense and Sensibility and she used the phrase. So what's the deal with that? And is it true no Brit would use "gotten?"

Thanks, everyone, for all your comments! It was really helpful, and I've passed on your responses to my betee.

Comments

1. Mad money - yes.
2. No. I know what it means but I've never heard or seen it in modern Britain.
3. Up to snuff - old fashioned but still in use.
4. No. Gumdrop to people of my age and my son's age is an Austin 12hp. The only thing close is "American hard gums".
5. Chit - eh, have used it at work often enough, but it's very context-specific.
6. I say horrid a lot!
7. What do you mean, right ____? "He's a right bastard", "she's a right little madam", yes. Something else? You'll have to clarify.
8. Ha. Well. It is still in use in Scotland and northern parts of England. It has almost completely disappeared from southern English. (I have no idea about NI and Wales.) People generalise that we don't use it at all but I can think of several people I know who do (mostly older Scots), and who definitely are not influenced by US usage.
3. I think more people would say "up to par".
4. Oooh, gumdrops are those little hard fruit-flavoured jelly things, covered in sugar. You get them in Dolly mixtures. See also "goody goody gumdrops"!
5. I grew up with the word "chit" but it pertained more to pieces of paper than to a cheeky girl, for instance.
6. Me too.
7. I'm quite happy with "right..." in the correct context. I felt a right idiot when I realised I'd left the door unlocked.
8. It's one difference between "British" and "English". "Gotten" isn't used in English English (I see you say it's still in use in Northern English, but I've not heard it myself), but hasn't gone out of use in Scottish.
7. What do you mean, right ____? "He's a right bastard", "she's a right little madam", yes. Something else? You'll have to clarify.

The phrase she's using is "a right son of a bitch."

Thank you for all of the above. Of course, what will really bite is the things I didn't think to ask. LOL. But this helps a lot.
This, except I have never heard the phrase mad money.
"Mad money" - no, it's not something I've ever heard used, although I might be able to guess the meaning from context.

"Buss" is certainly not used now; it sounds extremely old-fashioned to my ears.

"Up to snuff" could be used, but is likewise a bit old-fashioned.

"Gumdrops" - maybe, but I don't think it's a hugely common term.

"Chit" certainly isn't contemporary - I think of it as quite Victorian.

"Horrid" is quite childish/twee; "horrible" is more likely. The Discworld book Hogfather (set in a fantasy world, but by a British author and very recognisably British) has one character thinking this when another used the word "horrid": "The word is 'horrible'. 'Horrid' is a childish word selected to impress nearby males with one's fragility, if I'm any judge."

"Right ____" is, again, a bit old-fashioned (and I think London-specific, rather than British English in general). What was the phrase Emma Thompson used?

Yes, "gotten" is not British English. We say "have got" (although also "have forgotten". Not much consistency there).
Oh, I see from comments above that it's "right ___" as in "they're a right [noun]". That's fine (although it's slangy - it depends on how formal your character's speech is). I was reading it as "right [adjective]" (right good, right friendly, etc.), which would not really be used.
1. Never heard of 'mad money', and I can't offhand think of a British equivalent. (One may come to me.)

2. 'Buss' for 'kiss' is obsolete. It may be in use in some regional dialect, but otherwise it would only be used as a conscious (and rather twee) archaism.

3. 'Up to snuff' isn't all that common, but wouldn't strike anyone as odd.

4. 'Gumdrops' has always been a British name for that kind of sweet.

5. 'Chit' in what sense? As a belittling term for 'girl' it belongs strictly to Regency novels. In the sense 'note, permit, receipt' (derived from an Anglo-Indian word, chitty) it's in everyday use.

6. I know what your Londoner meant by saying that no British adult would use "horrid", but they were being just a bit sweeping. We might use it just as we deliberately use other childish phrases, like 'easy peasy!' The New English Dictionary notes it as 'especially frequent as a feminine term of strong aversion', and there's something in that. Some people might still also use it in the older, stronger sense, ' terrible, dreadful, frightful'. so it's very much a question of context and nuance.

7. When you say "right___", do you mean adverbial phrases like 'right shortly'? Only in some regional dialects, or as an archaism. (Re Thompson's diaries, you have to bear in mind that while she was writing them she was also immersing herself every day in Jane-Austen-speak in order to hone and perform the dialogue of S&S, and would be very likely to come out with a phrase or words that she might not use in ordinary life.)

8. Yes. Except in the phrase 'ill-gotten gains' or 'misbegotten'.
Yeah, chit she meant as insult for Hermione--and it seems then is obsolete. The person who told me never to use "Right___" was a Londoner (and don't remember if she distinguished between nouns or adverbs) but the person who told me "horrid" was a phrase only a child would use was actually Scottish.
I haven’t read the other comments yet...

mad money - Not used. Was called “pin money” 30-50 years ago.

“buss" for kiss? - NEVER! This is absolutely a mark of American English.

Up to snuff? - Yes, but I think it might be a bit old-fashioned

Gumdrops? - I’ve heard the word, but never been sure what they are. I’d use “wine gums” (if that’s gumdrops are!)

"chit" isn't really a word a contemporary Brit would use

As in “a chit of a girl”? Older people would still use it today, but they wouldn’t mean it nicely. McGonagall might use it, except she’s normally very polite. Mrs Weasley might have used it in Bill’s early days with Fleur.

no British adult would use "horrid."

Absolutely. It’s a word adults used to use to children for some reason. Only three-year-olds use it imo.

My Britpicker once told me that to use a phrase such as "right___" was a Disney Van Dyke thing and not something a Brit would use. But recently I was reading Emma Thompson's published diaries of filming Sense and Sensibility and she used the phrase. So what's the deal with that?

I don’t understand what you’re asking. “Right” isn’t a phrase, it’s a word. Are you asking whether people say “Right you are”? Or “Right, that’s your last warning!” Or “You’ve made a right bleeding mess of this.”? They do, is the answer to those questions.

And is it true no Brit would use "gotten?"

younger ones seem to, because their English usage is still fluid when they discover the internet, where we are hugely outnumbered by Americans. Those of us who learned our language before the internet don’t.
"As in “a chit of a girl”? Older people would still use it today, but they wouldn’t mean it nicely. McGonagall might use it, except she’s normally very polite. Mrs Weasley might have used it in Bill’s early days with Fleur."

I was just thinking along the same lines. But I'd ascribe the phrase more to Augusta Longbottom or Walburga Black, rather than McGonagall -- and of the Weasleys, I'm thinking Aunt Muriel rather than Molly. :) (I could also see it used by Lucius Malfoy at his most pretentious, though!)
On 'gotten', I'm not sure where the line is drawn for who qualifies as young but I use it. I'm 25 but I definitely think I learned my language before I started using the internet. My technophobe dad uses it, too, and my grandparents. Southerners, all.

I know 'gotten' comes up a lot on comms like this. I always appear to be the odd one out for some reason. I accept it probably isn't the 'right' way to say something; I would probably only use it in dialogue when writing, because I feel proper rules don't apply so strictly with dialogue and I suppose you could consider it slang (-ish) anyway.
I'm not sure why my opinion is a minority one. I don't believe my speech is particularly influenced by American telly or the internet - no more than it would be for those in their 30s/40s anyway. Others have mentioned it is in use in certain regional dialects but the ones mentioned aren't mine. In childhood I must have read/heard it somewhere reasonably often!
I’m sure you’ve had too many replies already. But:

Do you have the term "mad money" in Britain (ie, money you can spend on things you don't per se need, spending money?) No
How about "buss" for kiss? Mediaeval.
Up to snuff? Yes
Gumdrops? Rare (comedy trio The Goodies made a catch phrase of ‘Goody goody gumdrops’ as an exclamation of enthusiastic anticipation, but it didn’t really stick).
I once heard a Londoner say that "chit" isn't really a word a contemporary Brit would use. True? Yes. Probably not commonly used for about 200 years outside US-penned fanfiction.
And another told me that no British adult would use "horrid." Not true, but always used jokily.
My Britpicker once told me that to use a phrase such as "right___" was a Disney Van Dyke thing and not something a Brit would use. But recently I was reading Emma Thompson's published diaries of filming Sense and Sensibility and she used the phrase. So what's the deal with that? She was being facetious. The Dick VD analogy is spot on.
And is it true no Brit would use "gotten?" Not entirely - it is a feature of some dialects. But it is certainly not standard or acceptable English.

Perse (54-year-old Brit)
"Goody goody gumdrops" was very common in my (1980s Yorkshire) childhood, though I had no idea of the phrase's origin until now.
I'm sure you don't need another comment but I disagree slightly with some other commenters so I thought it might be worth adding another opinion.
Mad money: No.
Buss for kiss: No.
Gumdrops: Not really, but it wouldn't completely jar me either.
Up to snuff: Maybe for older people. Very much older. I'd say 'up to scratch'.
Chit: Very old-fashioned.
Horrid: I use it. Rarely, but I do use it. Generally, I would say it's an older generation thing.
"right...": I use this quite a lot. "It's right miserable out." "She's being a right bitch." As for Emma Thompson (love her) using it, I don't know if she would really use it often in speech herself - as opposed to in writing - because, to me, it's not very middle-class and she is. It's definitely not a 'proper' way of writing. I would only use it in dialogue.
Gotten: This one always throws me. I never used to think about it until I started looking on britpicking communities. I use it but now, when writing HP stuff, I automatically change it because other people seem to think it's an American thing. So I - an English woman - end up Britpicking something I use in everyday conversation. It may not be 'proper' but I, personally, don't believe it to be a specifically American word. I do seem to go against the tide on that one, though, so... *shrug*

Edited at 2012-07-21 02:10 am (UTC)
1. Mad money - yes. My mother has used it for decades and she'll be 70 this August. although pin money is more upper middle class of a certain generation.

2. Buss - no

3. Up to snuff - yes but also up to par, up to stratch

4. Horrid - yes, if the character is middle class, especially if talking about a child or the weather

5. Right as in right stinker, right bugger i.e. a qualifier, then yes. Quite how it is used is very dependent on context. Working class characters and middle class characters would use it differently.

6. Got rather than gotten is correct British English usage (as taught in grammar books). However I have noticed in the past five years that more people are using gotten in speech (even on the BBC) which is not going to be because of British dialect influence but because of American TV and film influence. See also the use of 'way' in lieu of 'far' as in 'way more'. I would avoid like the plague in fanfic becauseit sounds American to most British ears. Also I have noticed that Americans use the verb 'to get' where we would often use other auxiliary verbs.

Edited at 2012-07-21 09:29 am (UTC)