Thursday, 29 January 2009

How to speak Bristolian

As most of you will be aware, I live in the lovely provincial city of Bristol. It's far enough away from London that most of the unpleasant idiots there don't come and visit for a day, and just close enough to Wales that the unpleasant London idiots don't resettle here when they discover that their shoe-box apartment in Bermondsey would buy an entire house outside of the capital.

It's a win-win situation.

(The irony here of course being that I'm not from Bristol itself, I just settled here after studying at the University. But I'm not from London, so that's considered acceptable.)

The biggest downside to living here as a non-native is the local accent. When fate was handing out cute, sexy accents it chose to give the world the scotch burr, the gentle irish lilt, the french purr - it most certainly didn't include the Bristolian/West Country accent.

For it has one flaw - you can't help sounding a bit thick.

If Einstein had been from Brizzle (as the locals pronounce it. Seriously) his theory of relativity would have been explained something along the lines of:

"Soooes, like, yer on a train, roight - like to Swindon or somat - wiv yer can ov zider course like an' the fahster the train goes roight, yer get 'eavier and 'eavier. An' the closer yer get to, like, the speed of loight, roight, the more infinoite yer maahs will be. Meanin' that yer'd be going really fahst an' av a ton ov zider t'drink, which would be gert lush innit me babber......."

Or something.

(If you're never heard a Bristolian accent then Sam the hobbit in Lord of the Rings is doing a passable imitation. Just to give you some idea.)

Anyway, within Bristol there are many dialects. I only know a bit about one - which is what this post was supposed to be about before I starting rambling. When I started my first job here I became good friends with one of my colleagues who was a proper local, and through him I joined his circle of friends. They'd all gone to school together and often spoke what seemed to a different language. It took me a while to work it out, but here is a guide to speaking the Montpelier dialect of Bristolian.

The part of Bristol known as Montpelier shares many things in common with the city on the French Mediterranean coast. The sun, sand, beautiful women, flash cars, pristine beaches, jobs, fantastic restaurants, men roaming the streets with clubs with nails in them, casual street violence, bikini-clad hotties, money, derelict buildings, spelling - all are things that the two do not have in common.

In fact, let's ignore the proper Montpellier for now. Though it says a lot about the local area and inhabitants that it's named after it, but they just spelt it wrong.

The Montpelier dialect centres around three central themes - money, women and football. I shall ignore football from this post (first time ever) mainly because I insisted they spoke English to me whenever we talked about it.

So, here we go:

1) The most important qualifier in the Montpelier dialect (or MD as we shall now refer to it as) is 'busters'. It can be added to almost any word or sentence, thusly;

Person A: "I'm skint*"
Person B: "You're skint? I'm skint busters."

'Busters' is a magnifier, but exclusively a negative one. So something that is good, if 'busters' is appended, becomes very bad. In this case the original word is commonly omitted, e.g.;

Person A: "I'm hungry, Maccy Dees?"
Person B: "Busters."

2) A similar term to 'busters' is 'laysions'. It's derived from 'laysions and abrasions', or the less-common 'lesions and abresions'. Both have been shortened over time to 'laysions' or 'abresions' though 'laysions' is more widely used.

If one is making a point then 'laysions and abrasions' can be used as a whole phrase, though this is no longer considered fashionable.

On related phrases, a messy night is normally 'incidents and accidents' and someone who has a problem is regarded as having 'more issues than Mogadishu.'

3) The term for an attractive specimen of the female species is 'skins'. For example;

Person A: "Skins?"
Person B: "Yeah, she's skins alright."

This is a perfect example of where 'busters' can be used as a negative magnifier;

Person A: "Skins?"
Person B: "Skins busters more like."

4) The only term worse (in terms of attractiveness) than 'skins busters' is the frankly magnificent 'tugboat'.

So, pulling those all together, a normal conversation in a pub would be:

Person A: "Skins?"
Person B: "Busters!"
Person C: "Yeah, totally laysions mate."
Person A: "She's not *that* bad"
Person D: "Bad? She's a tugboat."
Person C: "Tugboat busters"
*everyone laughs*
Person A: "From behind she's skins."
Person B: "Well, she's got nice hair."
Person C: "Your round, tugboat lover."

It's a laugh a minute around here.....

*Broke, for those septics out there.


Jan said...

At first I thought this post was going to be about Sarah Palin's daughter, Bristol, who just gave birth to a son named Tripp, but I didn't realize you were British (I found you on Irish Gumbo's blogroll) and then I laughed my ass off even although I never knew there was a British city named Bristol, being the ignorant American I am, and do I get brownie points for realizing "skint" probably meant "broke" and I'm rambling, aren't I?

Um. Well. I love your blog and God save the Queen. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness you are translating for us Red...I never would have been able to follow that. Could you also say Bint Busters?

And what the hell is that bubble and squeak thing?

Mrs Red Squirrel said...

Nummy... Bubble and squeak...

Bebe, could you please get better? Because I'm a sicky and need you too. :(

Mrs Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel said...

Jan - welcome! :)

The fact that Palin had a daughter called 'Bristol' was hilarious here. It's like Tony Blair naming one of his sons 'Toledo'.

As for the queen - I think I speak for the majority here when I say Vive La Revolution! ;-)

Sweet Cheeks - no, you couldn't say Bint Busters. Mainly because 'bint' is a term used exclusively by those born in the 1950's, so it would be a bit like your granny saying 'Yo, like, word up home boy.'

As for bubble & squeak, I shall post about that now :)

Mon Cherie - I'll call in a minute!

Pearl said...

I'm behind here, but a bit of quick Minnesotan:

Guy A: Yungree?
Guy B: Yup. Squeet.


Red Squirrel said...

Pearl - now squeet is a good word. Duly noted!

Anonymous said...

I was born and bread in bristol and I have never heard of "she's skins" when someone is referring to a pretty lady. "busters" never heard of it either. I lived in various locations in Bristol, at the moment I live in montpelier. I have no idea where you got the sun, sand, hot ladies from because Bristol is one of the rainiest cities in UK and Montpelier is right next to the red light district

Red Squirrel said...

Um, I said those were things it *didn't* have in common with Montpellier.

If you're going to critique then at least read the post.

Oh, and you probably meant 'bred'. Unless you're speaking proper thicko Bristolian and I'm not noticing....

Mrs Red Squirrel said...

Love, don't bovver wit 'em k? I mean, it's pointless, innit?

Geoff said...

Interesting post. You'd probably find me an interesting specimen as I was born and bred in Bristol (although now living in Italy) and I have a strange relationship with the accent on account of attending QEH school (then a direct grant grammar school, now independent) where if you spoke with a Bristol accent you were called a peasant. However, when I used to play football with the lads from the estate/suburb where I grew up it was "ark at 'ee wiv 'is posh voice!" So I developed the ability to vary my accentfrom broad Bristol to practically non-existent Bristol, depending on the company I kept. Some people say it's fake. It's not, and it's a useful social skill!

Kellie said...

I've lived in bristol all my life and have a strong accent. I have never heard of the terms busters, skins or tugboat before! There are words and sayings that are way more popular! Take a look at, its got a great bristolian dictionary!

Anonymous said...

Lived in bristol all my life an never heard any of those words used

Anonymous said...

Don't know who you've been hanging out with our kid but definitely not Bristolians. Whole family born and bred in Bristol. Never heard of any of those words being used like you suggest. Think it's just your mates code

Unknown said...

Yep me too, a lifelong Bristolian who's never heard any of those words in those contexts