English 101

"England and America are two countries separated by the same language." - George Bernard Shaw

** TRIGGER WARNING **  I have been informed by my mother-in-law that my blog contains too much profanity.  This installment is no exception.  Be warned, the following blog entry contains significant linguistic discussions of profanity.  If you are my mother-in-law, or are otherwise offended by swearing, please do not read the following:

As you know, the Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory.  This means, of course, that English is the language of the realm.  It was one of the reasons Amy and I chose this place to relocate.  As a former attorney, I felt I had a good grasp of the English language, its nuances, and use.  However, once we spent some time on the island, it became apparent that I had absolutely no fucking idea of how to speak what I thought was my native tongue.

My education in the English language was primarily administered by my two mates, Tim B. and Tim V.  Tim B., an Englishman, and Tim V., a South African, disagree on certain things, most commonly how people should refer to them when they are in the same room.  "Tim the Elder" and "Tim the Younger," have been discussed, as well as "Good Looking Tim" and "The Other One," and "Tim 1" and "Tim 2."  The later then devolves into how to differentiate "Tim 1" from "Tim 2," whether by age, looks, or dick size.  Nevertheless, one thing Tim B. and Tim V. do agree on is that the language I speak has absolutely nothing to do with the actual West Germanic language which the world refers to as "English."

I set out, therefore, to learn English.

Some things in English are just plain funny.  For example, in English, an incompetent or unwise person is a "numpty." ("Look at that numpty trying to park his car.")  When everything is going great, things are "tickety boo." ("We'll run down to the store, buy some rum, and everything will be tickety boo.")  When you are doing nothing, you are doing "fuck all."  (Amy: "Randy, what have you been doing all day?" Randy: "Fuck all.")  Finally, when someone is in prison, they are living at "her majesty's pleasure."  ("I think that guy was living at her majesty's pleasure for the last five years.")

Tim V.

Tim B,
Some things in English are confusing.  For example, "bollocks," technically refers to male genitalia.  However, it can also mean "something extremely negative or lacking in value."  To complicate matters, if something is the "dog's bollocks," that means it is "extremely good or favorable."  Thus, if you were drinking a cocktail on the beach and it started raining, that would be bollocks.  If a waitress brought you over an umbrella with two free beers, however, that would be the dog's bollocks.  Subtle, I know; yet important.

Another confusing thing in English is the word "piss."  Now obviously I knew that "piss," meant urine.  I also knew that it could be used as a verb, to mean upset.  However, in English, the word piss has far more uses.  For example, when one goes "on the piss," it means he or she is "binge drinking solely for the purpose of getting totally smashed."  ("He isn't coming to poker tonight because he went on the piss last night.")  "Taking the piss," means "messing or screwing around." (I'm not trying to insult you, I was just taking the piss.")

But perhaps the beauty of the English language is best seen in its myriad ways to call someone an asshole.  Certainly the most widely used English word for an asshole is "wanker."  Closely related is the word "tosser." ("Our wives are getting together tonight to talk about what tossers we are.")  English does contain the word "twat," but it rhymes with "hat," not "hot."  But in all of the ways to insult someone, the hardest thing is the use of the word "cunt."  Again, I knew the word to be an "offensive way to refer to a woman." Before I learned English, I would have agreed with Wikipedia that "the word 'cunt' is generally regarded in English-speaking countries as unsuitable for normal public discourse.  It has been described as being 'the most heavily tabooed word of all English words.'"  Au contraire.  You see, in English, people use the word cunt all the time.  As Wikipedia explains: "it can also be used as a neutral, or , when used with a positive qualifier (good, funny, clever, etc.), positive way of referring to a person."  Thus, a person can be a "fucking cunt," a "proper cunt," or a "clever cunt."  In English, almost everyone is some kind of cunt.

The one word we DO NOT use in English is the term "motherfucker," a word I use pretty regularly.  In our discussions about English, I said, "that guys is a real motherfucker."  The Tims both blanched, and said "you do know what you are saying, right?  That the guy fucks his mother."  I had to explain to them that much like "cunt," the word "motherfucker" can be bad, ("That motherfucker cut me off!"), or good ("That is one smart motherfucker.")  They explained that although that might be the case, an English-speaking person would rather be called a cunt 20 times rather than a motherfucker once.

All in all, I continue my education in English, and will provide updates as I learn.  But know this, future Banyan Inn guests, come on down and do fuck all or go on the piss; just try not to be a wanker and everything will be tickety boo.


  1. Just wanted to recognize the date of this blog post. Happy Holidaze!


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