Blimey, I’m Knackered!
An American's Survival Guide to British English
by Marshall Hall
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Pub Date 31 Aug 2021 | Archive Date 21 Dec 2021
Back in 1887, Oscar Wilde wrote, “We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.” One would think, in a world homogenized by technology and social media, that differences between British English and American English would gradually disappear. Ask any recent traveler, though, and you’ll learn that plenty of linguistic idiosyncrasies persist, and new ones emerge all the time. Folks on both sides of the pond may be in closer touch than ever before, but we are still, as George Bernard Shaw purportedly noted, “two nations divided by a common language.”
Blimey, I’m Knackered! is the perfect companion for anyone desiring to bridge the gap between US and UK English or who simply enjoys the evolution of language and culture. American scholar and longtime UK resident Marshall Hall has organized his insightful definitions and explanations of British idioms, colloquialisms, abbreviations, acronyms, and slang into nineteen entertaining and revealing chapters covering everything from transportation and food to politics, education, and wardrobe. Making the book truly comprehensive are sections on pejoratives and “naughty bits.” Hall’s often amusing explanations make the book an engaging read for language lovers and travelers alike. Charming pen-and-ink illustrations by Mark Cowie add whimsy and humor to this entertaining, useful, and unique compendium. No American need ever be befuddled again!
A Note From the Publisher
"A treasure trove of definitions, phrases, and sayings. The reference material is lightened by the succinct chapter introductions, amusing illustrations, and clever quotations that are interspersed throughout the collection."— Skylar Hamilton Burris, editor of Ancient Paths Literary Magazine and author of When the Heart Is Laid Bare
“We now have the definitive guide from Marshall to help us navigate even the most confusing of conversations.”–Councillor Jane MacBean, Buckinghamshire County Council
“Travelers–and others interested in British English–will appreciate the context and insights of the chapter introductions, the careful attention to regional differences in the language, the practical tips woven throughout the book, and the edifying plunge into the waters of rhyming slang,”–Beth Castrodale, award-winning author of Marion Hatley, In This Ground, and I Mean You No Harm.
“Entertaining, educational and wonderfully thorough! –Joseph Houghton, Administrator and Director at Troy University
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 24 members
I love all things British, so I was excited to check this out.
This reference book is a great guide on UK English for Americans. I'm a bit of a word nerd, and I enjoyed learning the historical meaning behind the words and phrases, many of which I was familiar with (and some are even used in the US). If you enjoy British books and shows, this is a fun book to check out.
This is definitely a very thorough guide to UK English for Americans. While it does have some illustrations and historical/cultural notes, it reads more like a reference text than a book for recreational consumption. Still, it would be very useful for folks relocating to the UK and probably quite appealing for hardcore word nerds.
Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review!
Blimey, I'm Knackered is a really fun and humorous book that is basically a British dictionary, encyclopedia, how-to guide, and travel guide all in one. I really enjoyed learning about the differences in British versus US culture, especially because the book was so witty and made it easy to understand.
Thank you to NetGalley and Imbrifex Books for providing me with an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I love learning about other countries and cultures. Getting familiar with a country's slang is a fun way to get a bit of an insight into the minds of the people. Blimey, I'm Knackered! is a treat for Anglophiles, wordplay aficionados, and people who enjoy British literature, television and movies.
This book is not just an alphabetical listing of words and phrases. The author has taken the time to sort the entries into groups. You'll find chapters dedicated to topics such as Buildings and Structures, Cooking and Foods, Around the Home, Down the Pub, Wardrobe, and my personal favorite, The Education System. Along with the definitions, there's chatty introductions, anecdotes, and the occasional witty quote from a notable personality.
And yes, I've anticipated the question you're hesitating to ask. There's a no-holds-barred chapter titled Pejoratives, Insults, and Derision. Oh, the things you will learn in that eye-popping chapter.
My thanks to author Marshall Hall, Imbrifex Books, and NetGalley for allowing me to read a digital advance review copy of this book. This review is my honest and unbiased opinion.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book. I love the way Brits speak and expressions they use. I think even the most crass words sound posh with an English accent. This book was a light and quick read. I would recommend this for sure if you’re planning a trip but it’s also fun to read where some of the terms originated. I also learned some things I did not know like you need an adaptor to plug in to the wall as the voltage is much higher. Pick this up for a quick, fun and educational read.
British & American English differ in many ways, and this book is a guide to the meaning of many of these words and phrases. Divided into chapters by subject, it falls down because of its haphazard approach to the definitions. Sometimes he tells you the American equivalent, more often these are not included. Sometimes the definitions are humorous, more often not. it's very inconsistent.
I enjoyed this book. I liked reading about the author’s experiences. Some of the illustrations are cute and some of the occasional quotes are clever. Some of the material was very funny, most not, but very interesting. The only sections I didn’t like were The Education System (too confusing) and Rhyming Slang (too many examples). I enjoy etymology and reading books about the English language. This book fulfills both criteria and I found it worthwhile reading even though I have no plans to travel to that part of the world. Thank you to Netgalley and Imbrifex Books for the advance reader copy.
Helpful for anyone who wants to understand British English where for travel or understanding some of the things said in British movies and television shows. Fun to read and learn some new things about the English language. There are some words and uses of words and expressions that are listed in the book as British English that many Americans use regularly. For example, every use of "excuse me" is actually used in the United States by Americans.
A quite well done compendium of Britishisms for those of us west of the Atlantic. It’s more than just a list of translations; although if that is what you’re looking for, there is an index at the back of the book. I do however recommend reading the book through. I got many laughs as I moved through the narrative.
Chapters are laid out to group the bewildering collection into useable chunks which include comments and quips on the chapter’s subject. Groups include “Buildings & Structures”, “Colloquialisms”, “Driving & Transportation”, “Cooking & Foods”, just to name a few. The author has added interesting tidbits from his own experiences and quotes from different celebrities. And don’t miss the “Anatomy & Naughty Bits” section; definitely a “laugh out loud” read!
In the afterword, Marshall Hall does acknowledge that some of the inclusions would already be familiar, but they were often included to give a little history or context to the topic. He also admits that the English language is always changing and that today’s global world is making things a little less local and a little more standard, which will date this book sometime in the future.
A definite 4.5/5 for this one! I would have liked to have the chapter on the education system laid out a little better. Perhaps I am just a little thick when it comes to understanding the Brit’s system.
So much fun; I flew through this book! As a logphile, I love reading about the differences between the various Englishes spoken around the word. Such an amazing language. It's ability to adopt, adapt, borrow, and draw in other languages, and create it's own words and phrases, is just astonishing. I have never been to England, but recognize many of the words and phrases from British tv, movies, and books. I even use many of these myself. Lots of entertainment in here. Other logophiles, or tourists, would be interested in reading this book.
Wonderful job of compiling them Marshall Hall!
This higgledy-piggledy book should find a place, even if that is in the smallest room, for occasional browsing. I think it's perfectly aware and happy of that destination, mind. Created by Yanks working and living over here, it's designed to portray the British Isles to the potentially confused Americans, so it guides us through terms of the high street and housing, our foodstuffs, words that mean greatly different things either side of the Atlantic, and so on. It manages to break away from the expected societal and linguistic differences, though, and give itself diversions to touristic suggestions, a guide to working out place name origins, and so on. One chapter presents the orders of the peerage and something of how we're governed – the next discusses sexual euphemisms. Generally there is a greater amount of the unexpected, and more work in this volume's creation, than I would have presumed.
But, it's heavily flawed. "Blinkered" is not and never will be "slang". I've never heard of "bollitics" in my life, or "Bungalow Bill" (the song or the idiom). I'm not sure when any of the tiny British birds we call tits came to be "small to medium sized" - they're hardly condors, now. "Dicky" is in here, but not as a bow-tie. Nobody ever calls it an "M-road", and it's wrong to say number plates always stay with the car. Most of the places listed as being in Northern Ireland, are not. Cauliflower cheese is certainly not "children's food", "maize" is a long way down the pecking order of what we call it, and baked beans are only a "variation" to a full English if breathing is a minority hobby.
So yes, this needs a solid iron before really being presented to the Queen. But if you enjoy the frivolous and trivial, when I would have thought the more comprehensive option is definitely out there somewhere, this could well be for you. If anybody ever asks me about the languages I speak I always reply that "I'm getting quite good at English", and this is definitely one enjoyable way for non-English English speakers to pick up a tip or two. Three and a half stars, with potential for four had it not goofed so often.
Princess Fuzzypants here: Clearly we Canadians have closer ties linguistically to the British than our neighbours to the south do. Both in spelling and in the words that are part of our speech, many of the words listed here are in common use in Canada. Add to that some very strong ties to Britain, both from living there and visiting, most of the words are familiar. In fact, I use a lot of the expressions both in speech and writing.
There were a few surprises though- things that were new to me. Whether the words were old hat or brand new, this is a fun and informative book. Perhaps less than in the past, thanks to a ton of British programs and movies,, Americans have been baffled by the unusual colloquialisms they discover upon visiting Old Blighty. They are indeed separated by a common language. This would be a handy guide to read or take when venturing across the pond. And even if, like my family, you are well acquainted with the words, you will be chuffed and gobsmacked by this book.
Five purrs and two paws up.
Puzzled by words used by Britons? Want to understand more while watching Love Island UK or Australia? Blimey, I’m Knackered! has you covered.
As a lover of mysteries, I watch a lot of British TV on streaming services. It would have been helpful to have this guide when I first started. But even after a decade or more of Acorn, I still found many unfamiliar words in here. For example, doing porridge is not a British version of the plot twist in American Pie. It means spending time in prison. The book includes words and phrases for the entire British Commonwealth. So, The Casketeers, set in New Zealand, will now be completely understandable.
The book is alphabetized within chapter groupings of things like slang and wardrobe. There is also an alphabetical index without the groupings. You will be saying Blimey, I’m Knackered! (Dang, I’m exhausted) if you try to read this book straight through. It is better suited for traveling and translating British TV, movies, and books on the fly. Additionally, it would be a fantastic reference for writers planning on setting their novels in the British Commonwealth. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 stars!
Thanks to Imbrifex Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
**I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. **
I love language so much so any chance I get to learn about slang from another country, I will take it.
This book was an easy to navigate, fun read. If you love words, this book is for you.
This was so fun. I got to read this while I was watching Love Island (UK) live. It was super fun to feel completely covered in all things British. This would be a cute coffee table book and truthfully, maybe even a fun bathroom read.
Thank you to Marshall Hall, NetGalley, and Imbrifex Books for my ARC of “Blimey, I’m Knackered” in exchange for my honest review.
I wanted to read this as I am actually in the process of moving to the UK for graduate school. While I’ve spent time in Scotland and Dorset visiting my family, I still find there are phrases I’m not familiar with. I also just love to learn about language - how words came to be, what their original use was, how it’s changed over time, how it may have been adopted in other languages, etc. So, “Blimey, I’m Knackered” was right up my alley.
The book is divided up into organized sections, a quick, easy, and fun read. I liked the background information on the main topics the book is divided into, like transport, education, etc., so it gives the reader generalized knowledge on the topic, too. Hall makes sure to also note regional colloquialisms or words, which I also found helpful as there are major differences even within the UK itself on what certain words mean. Hall also included some nice and helpful illustrations - one, in particular, I am fond of is the Reliant Robin as I love that car. I also like that Hall is writing this from an American perspective, so he understands what Americans go through when navigating the subtle language differences.
It’s a great resource for people going to the UK for the first or twentieth time.
Blimey, I’m Knackered is a fun read. It is insightful and helps explain many expressions. I am surrounded by those who attempt to speak in a British accent and use expressions accordingly, and this has been a great tool to be able to contribute, intelligently, but without a proper accent. I am thrilled that someone took the time to compile all these expressions for the American people. I was torn between being entertained and being informed. In my opinion, this is a great place to be when reading a book. Definitely recommended for American’s who are trying to understand popular expressions from a language so similar to our own. Gives fresh insight to culture and how language evolves and changes.
I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via NetGalley and all opinions expressed are solely my own, freely given.
Reading this as a Brit I found it vastly entertaining as I hadn’t completely appreciated how many differences there are between American English and the language I know and love. All of the classics and obvious differences are included but there a plethora of additional words and phrases. The research from this perspective is brilliant and very comprehensive and I liked the way the words were grouped into topics so it felt less like wading through a dictionary. There were, however, quite a lot of glaring errors which made me shout at the book a few times. The section that lists biscuits that you must try proceeds to list cakes such as Battenberg. A sympathetic proof read by a native Brit would definitely be a good plan but overall the enjoyment wasn’t spoiled for me. A really good effort and very entertaining.
A splendid work of lexicology to be read like a story. Anyone curious about the life of a language should have a copy of this book. It is very clever and pleasant, fully informative and interesting.
I am already recommending it to my students who are truly fascinated by the concept.
I received a copy from NetGalley, all opinions are mine.
A great compendium of colloquialisms, slang, practical terms, and differently pronounced terms for English and Americans. Great to start a linguistic discussion among friends or leave lying as "light reading" for on the John. Collection is peppered with amusing and memorable quotes and cultural/TV/movie references. Allusions are made to possible misunderstandings and misuses of terms between the two languages. An entertaining reference book that will give you a chuckle or two.
Blimey, I’m Knackered by Marshall Hall
Publisher: Imbrifex Books
Release Date: August 31, 2021
Nonfiction, Entertainment, Humor, Reference, British, Slang
I picked up this book because I have English friends and love British television. This book was entertaining, and I did learn a few new words. There were a few words I questioned but overall, the book was enjoyable. I would recommend this book to anyone that would like to improve their British slang.
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