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  • Kristan Higgins

Talk like a Brit

I'm no Anglophile (though a SussexSquaddie), but there are some things that just sound classier when said by a British tongue. Yes, I’ve been watching The Great British Baking Show and a few British home reno programmes (see what I did there?).

Privacy. Privv-issey. In American, the word sounds whiny and entitled. PRY-vissy. I need my PRY-vissy. Can’t I have some PRY-vissy? But in England, if you need a little privvissey…now that sounds cool.

Innovative. Not one of these four syllables has the emphasis in British. It always takes me a second to decipher that word, because it’s said fast and mumbly. Maybe it sounds like a medication. Have you taken your innuhvittiv? Better get on that.

Schedule/shedjool. I don’t understand this one…Do Brits take their kids to shool? But it does sound much more refined. Higgins, put that on the shedjool like a good girl, won’t you? And get us some tea. Ta.

Aluminum. For some reason, Brits add a syllable to this…ah-loo-min-i-um. Like condominium. Still, it sounds better than aLOOminum, which, as we Americans pronounce it, sounds like the horn of an antique car or the call of an awkward owl.

Mobile. Mo-byle. Not MO-bull or mo-BEEL, the thing you hang over your kid’s crib. No, a mobyle is a cell phone, but without that prison connotation. Whoopsy! Forgot my mobile, better dash back and nab it.

Herb. Okay, Americans win this one. Herb with the H is a man’s name. “Erb” is something you grow in the garden and sprinkle on your food.

Oregano/Orra-GAH-no. Speaking of herbs, doesn’t the British pronunciation make it sound like oregano is really going to jazz up your cooking? Brilliant, adding the orraGAHno!

Anthony. In Britain, this name, so associated with Italian heritage, is pronounced Antony. No “th.” My God, so sexy, so posh.

Garage. In England, the GARE-ridge is a place where one’s car might be fixed. In American, it’s a guh-RAJH. I could picture myself liting in the British pronunciation structure, because it sounds magical and fairy-like. Let’s spend the weekend at my gareridge in Cornwall.

And finally, the F-bomb. In England, it sounds rather upper crust and almost fond. Can’t you hear Hugh Grant saying “F&#k all, we’re going to be brutally late.” In American, it’s just kind of flat and boring with no twinkle of humor.

Time to go off and listen to Alan Rickman reading to Kate Winslet in Sense and Sensibility. Feel free to do the same.


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