Thursday, February 10, 2011

I say! Do you talk the talk?

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We all walk the walk of wearing vintage, but do you talk the vintage talk too? I've noticed some bloggers tend to cultivate an old-fashioned turn of expression, dropping a toodle-pip or an ever so! into their posts - which I'm absolutely all for.

I certainly have the most old-fashioned vocabulary of anyone I know, and I've always talked this way - probably a result of growing up reading Enid Blyton and watching Jeeves & Wooster. Words and phrases like cheerio, how novel, gosh, golly, good Lord, crikey, goodness me, good show (yes, really!), dashing (as in handsome), brillo, awfully and just the ticket (used recently in a message to an etsy seller) have been a part of my everyday language for as long as I can remember. In fact as I started to think about it I realised how many of my phrases involve the word 'jolly': jolly good, jolly well ("I should jolly well think so") and even jolly hockey sticks (as an adjective: "she's very nice in a jolly hockey sticks way"). And yes, I have the plummy (occasionally verging on horsey, which I don't like so much) accent to match.

I'm totally in favour of reviving old-fashioned expressions. A recent discovery is "it's a real hootenanny!" which entered our house's collective vocabulary from watching The Seven Year Itch a few months back and has been used to describe pretty much every event or gathering ever since.

Do you use old-fashioned phrases - which are your favourite? Which do you use on an everyday basis and what others do you think are due for a revival? I think I shall resolve to start using more Wodehouse-esque phrases - though on reflection I'm not sure that Americans would appreciate receiving emails opening with the greeting "what ho!"

24 comments:

  1. Absolutely! I do like to use 'ever so' and 'crikey' and 'bother' quite a bit. I am steeped in Blyton and 'gosh' was my favourite as I was growing up. It mattered not one jot (there we go) that I wasn't actually at Mallory Towers, but from a council estate in South Wales. Does 'blimey' count? I always use blimey! xx

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  2. Hmm.. I had not really thought about this before. I do use alot of things like this in my posts and.. well pretty much all typed or written correspondance to friends. But I don't know about verbal.

    I say "jolly good" a lot, but I guess more in a sarky way. And spiffing. But the more I think about it.. the more I think I would have to say no.

    I swear a lot. Does that count?

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  3. Great post, I know where you're coming from exactly! I agree that we should try our best to reintroduce them into everyday conversation.

    Like yourself I picked up a lot of the vocabulary you mention from the same places - Blyton, J&W, Biggles and Poirot's Captain Hastings. Hence I use most, if not all, of the phrases in your post, plus a good few "By Jove!", "I say! and, yes, "jolly good". I remember my old work colleagues giving me a ribbing for always saying "jolly good". (Once when they all got pulled up by management for swearing too much I jokingly sent out an e-mail of inoffensive alternatives like "confound it!"). Even my dear old mum mocks me sometimes if I happen to come out with an "I say, mother!" when I'm with her(!).

    A few others I've been known to come out with are "hold hard!", "no fear!" and "my hat!" (as an expression of surprise, also "it's as black as your hat" to describe the weather/dark), I could go on...!

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  4. Well considering I named my blog after 2 old sayings ("by gum" and "by golly"), I'd definitely say I use them. LOL I think my favorite old saying is saying something is "the bee's knees". I am in full agreement, we should start using more old phrases!

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  5. I'm American so I don't use quite the sayings you do, but I love old-fashioned ways of speaking! The 40s slang is so funny and fun to use too! It's another part of the "individuality" bit--no one uses these old words anymore, and it's fun and quirky to pop them in a conversation. I would love to hear them make a comeback!

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  6. As a Canadian, I would agree with some other commenters that many of the "old fashioned" phrases you've mentioned are really British old fashioned phrases. So, if I went around saying "jolly good," and "by jove," people would think I was trying to feign being English, rather than trying to be old-fashioned. If I use the word "slacks" or "trousers" for the garment most North Americans know as "pants," I might be seen as a bit old fashioned. I'll have to think what else might be seen as outmoded forms of expression 'round these parts ;)

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  7. I think my friends would think i am a bit weird! ... i like calling things gay... does that count!

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  8. I often say to customers 'I'll be with you in half a mo' which someone pointed out to me is very old fashioned. I love to say 'Gee Whizz! too. Great post, jolly interesting topic!

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  9. I've picked up saying something is "the berries" or "peachy" from my mother-in-law. I love food, so it's perfect! I'm also trying to say things like "my hat" instead of "my ass" or "confound it!" instead of "goddam it!" My husband and I might start trying for babies sometime in the next few years and I don't want my kids getting in trouble at school for something I said at home! Plus, swearing loses its punch if used to excess, so I want to leave the four-letter words for really deserving situations!

    Love the comic strip!

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  10. I love "dreamy"- as in "He's so dreamy!"

    My granny used to refer to jeans as "dungarees." I always liked that, too.

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  11. I love unique phrases and words. Guess that's the English nerd coming out in me. I guess I've never thought about adding vintage phrases to my repertoire. I have picked up 'fringe' from reading lovely British blogs!

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  12. one of my favorites is the 20's phrase "scream" as in "Last night was a absolute scream!" xx

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  13. Im from Oop North! Lancashire has a totally different dialect altogether! I love it when my dad says things like "Its a real pea-souper" when its foggy, 'TTFN' - abbreviated from Ta Ta For Now or "Tha favors a drowned rat" meaning - you're soaked!
    I too loved Enid Blyton books as a child however, and love the toodle-pip style dialect, although I don't use it conversationally myself!

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  14. Oh, I just remembered: I love saying "dungarees" instead of jeans, "Heavens to Betsy!" instead of "ohmigosh!" and words like "swell", "peachy", "sterling" and "keen". :D

    "Tha favors a drowned rat"--Haha I'm going to start saying that! That's hilarious. And "my hat!" too! :D

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  15. I use a lot of those sorts of phrases. I always go 'out gadding' which cracks people up at work!

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  16. Like Clare, also being from the frozen North, I think I would sound ridiculous saying things like that, as even in the past they were never part of normal usage in the first place for anyone outside the South/South East. It's a major bugbear for me that people from other countries think we all use received pronunciation and say 'toodle pip' and 'what ho'. That type of language only represents a minority of the population yet dominates our national identity in the eyes of the rest of the world, an identity from which Northern culture is omitted.

    I do think it's fun for vintage bloggers to pick up on it and use it in their posts though, as long as they're actually from the South so it's not some contrived affectation - I think 'jolly good' or 'golly gosh' would sound a bit daft coming from someone like me whose accent is somewhere between Burnley and Mancunian.

    It's been heavily picked up by the 'Chappist' movement too, but they're mainly Southern anyway and use it with a large dose of knowing vintage irony :)

    I always liked when my Nanna would say 'It's perishing outside!' in a Mytholmroyd accent, and my stepdad's tendency to call everyone 'flower'.

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  17. Obviously I acknowledge that different areas have different old-fashioned phrases - I'm not going to say that MY old-fashioned turn of phrase is by any stretch a definitive way of talking vintage. That's why I asked for other people's favourites - I'd love to hear more of different region's old-fashioned expressions!

    xx Charlotte

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  18. A lot of old-fashioned Northern phrases are still in use to some extent, I like that they've never dropped out of normal use.

    I like that our sandwiches are butties and if you're worked up you're riled. I also like the Lancashire phrase 'got a cob on' which means you're annoyed.

    My boyfriend is from St.Helens, and says things like 'you weren't made at Pilks' which is a reference to the local glassmaker, Pilkingtons, ie. I can't see through you, and 'Put th'wood in th'ole' which means close the door - those phrases have been around for decades

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  19. I try not to swear, and that's about it! My boyfriend is really fond of using old fashioned pet names for me, however.

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  20. What a fun post! I love it! I've never really thought about speaking vintage as well as dressing the part! I do use oh my goodness! more than anyone else I know, lol. Thanks for the fun post, I just started following your awesome blog!

    http://inthehammockvintage.blogspot.com

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  21. I'm from the California coast. I pick up things here and there from old film noir but most of my daily-use vintage slang is influenced by the fake "beat" speak of 50s/60s beach movies. I "dig" this or that, add "-ville" to things to add emphasis and when somthing is really cool - its just the ginchiest!!

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  22. hmmm, this made me think. I do say 'super' a lot and it's been pointed out to me that know one really says that anymore. I also also use 'oh my goodness' and 'gosh'.The boy often says 'oh fiddlesticks!' which made be sqwark with laughter the first time he said it as it was so unexpected.

    The boy also calls the loo the Lavatory which is very old fashioned I think?

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  23. This was such a fun, thought-provoking post - thank you! Now it's got me thinking of things that I might say. Good heavens!...ever so lovely...peachy keen...drat!...golly gee whiz...isn't that grand!...simply sublime...gay old time...

    I've always felt that British expressions are so much more colorful than American. I'm envious!

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  24. Just don't put a up in between your what and ho and most Americans will just not know what you are talking about. Put the up in the middle and you will definitely be on the offensive.

    I often call younger people dear.

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I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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