When bad means 'good'
Hi Neil. Howru? It's not Portuguese and neither is it English - it is just something that popped up in my head after I looked up in the dictionary 'Howzat' - it is an exclamation related to cricket, a 'shortened form of how's that?' So Alfonso and TK Nallappan got it right.
I loved your description of cricket. Do you get cricket now, Pary? I was introduced to this very English tradition by a boyfriend a few months after arriving in Britain. He told me not to cheer. He was sure I would end up cheering the wrong side because I couldn’t understand the game. So, I watched it silently, like a Mona Lisa. With a mysterious smile that could, I hoped, belong equally well to a stoic loser or a serene winner.
You know what? Probably it was the same blank face I had when I heard about cockney rhyming slang. I could see that my life wouldn’t be easy if some people said ‘baker’s dozen’ when they meant ‘a cousin’. But cockney today seems to be in the past. The new hurdle we, non-native speakers of the English language, have to jump over is something called MLE or Multicultural London English.
One of the most exciting things about living in London is meeting people from different cultures. It’s not unusual to hear three or four different languages at the same time when walking around the capital. But it can feel a bit unsettling when you learn that ‘sick’ means ‘feeling ill’ and hear people around you using the word as a synonym for ‘good’. ‘Wicked’? It means ‘bad’ or ‘immoral’ but some use it when they mean ‘great’, ‘excellent’.
About accents, DenisSA, I share your pain. I had my share of accent heartache. I remember the first time I had to deal with a dropped ‘t’. An example? When the ‘Ts’ of the word ‘butter’ are turned into what I could describe as a hiccup. The same happened with the ‘t’ in ‘water’. And what about Britons from other cities? Well, once I asked a girl I had just met on a London bus what country she was from. She said she was from Manchester and people around laughed.
Neil, sometimes I wonder how you manage to keep track of all the changes in your own language. Is it wicked? Or is it … ‘wicked’?
popped up: appeared suddenly
to cheer: to shout expressing approval
stoic: unaffected by emotions
blank face: face that lacks expression
hurdle to jump over: obstacle to overcome
unsettling: that causes uneasiness, discomfort
share your pain: felt the same difficulties as you did
to keep track: to stay informed