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Thread: Upper Class English vs. Middle/Lower Class English (Language)

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    Question Upper Class English vs. Middle/Lower Class English (Language)

    I read an interesting article about how easy it is to recognize which class an English person represents after few second he/she opens his/her mouth.

    In upper class English:

    - Using a word toilet is a grave mistake, one has say lavatory or loo
    - Instead of saying pardon, one has to ask what(???) - which actually sounds a bit rude to me.
    - Even more grave mistake than calling a water-closet as toilet, is to say Pleased to meet you to the Queen instead of laconic Hello Ma'am, since everyone are pleased to meet the Queen by default.
    - Bicycle is bike, but never cycle
    - Riding a horse is just riding and never horse riding (why of course )
    - It's totally accepted to call Champagne as wine.

    After thinking all this a while, I came across to an idea: The upper class seems to avoid French words, or words with Latin origin. Pretty cool thing actually - to avoid non-native influences. Could there be any other reasons for this?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lissu View Post
    After thinking all this a while, I came across to an idea: The upper class seems to avoid French words, or words with Latin origin. Pretty cool thing actually - to avoid non-native influences. Could there be any other reasons for this?
    I don't know... after all the latin words were only used by the Norman nobility that's why pork is used when it's served and pig when it's alive, etc....

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    Interesting.
    Quote Originally Posted by OneEnglishNorman View Post
    I will sit on public toilets; but I'll cover the seat in toilet paper first.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deary View Post

    Would you mind posting the article?
    It was an article, or more like a column, in a Finnish yellow media - in Finnish of course, so even if it was put on internet, I doubt it would be useful to post it here

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    Quote Originally Posted by Americ View Post
    Interesting.
    Yeah. Because it was plural I said toilets (rather than lavatories). I usually say toilet anyway. My dad was privately educated at a boarding school and says lavatory. My mother says loo. That may be because she's from the north of England (?)

    Even more informal than loo, the "lower classes" would say "bog". That's more though if men are speaking to each other.

    I think social standing in England is determined by language, outlook and dress more than accent or wealth. Someone driving a brand new BMW or VW is likely to be "new money" compared to a person driving a beaten-up Mercedes or Land Rover. TBH money is seen as a little vulgar in England, especially the open display of wealth. People are very sensitive to class and if they feel inferior, they'll attempt to denigrate the other person by making off-hand insults.

    There is a weird cult of inverse snobbery in England, particularly with popular culture / comedy emanating from the north of England or the Celtic nations. I know that soon after I open my mouth outside of Southern England it's possible that negative assumptions are already being made (you are a snob; you are gullible; you are uncaring).

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    Quote Originally Posted by OneEnglishNorman View Post
    Yeah. Because it was plural I said toilets (rather than lavatories). I usually say toilet anyway. My dad was privately educated at a boarding school and says lavatory. My mother says loo. That may be because she's from the north of England (?)
    I remember from English classes from 3rd or 4rd grade, that the correct way to ask the location of toilet is "where can I wash my hands?"
    Even more informal than loo, the "lower classes" would say "bog". That's more though if men are speaking to each other.
    Bog sounds.... very interesting indeed...

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    Interesting stuff. Maybe we should investigate how to speak like a proper Englishman a little more? I would interested in such a thing.

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    Like I've mentioned before, there was an interesting anthropological book that discusses these class distinctions called "Watching the English".
    People turn to poison as quick as lager turns to piss

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