for something completely different

O internets, I could also use someone who can spot-check me on matters of London vocabulary — specifically, the insults that would be used by a pre-adolescent girl who’s spent a fair bit of time on the streets. (E.g.: does “crackhead” sound too American?) Also derogatory terms for a police officer: what other than “copper” and “pig”?

I ask because “The Last Wendy” is being copyedited right now, and this is my last chance to catch any glaring regionalisms. I’m not looking for full-bore cockney rhyming slang here, but I don’t want the words to sound out of place.

0 Responses to “for something completely different”

  1. kurayami_hime

    I’ll see if the roomie can help. Answers arriving tomorrow won’t be too late?

  2. fjm

    no one would call a policeman a crackhead.

    As far as I am aware, the standards remain copper, pig, and fuzz. I haven’t heard any new ones.

    • Marie Brennan

      No, “crackhead” isn’t directed at the policeman — my phrasing above isn’t clear. I’ll correct it.

      Copper and pig are the two I’m using at present, since “fuzz” seems more plural and general than something you would call a single policeman.

      • shui_long

        “Copper” is not particularly derogatory. “Pig” is a common term of abuse used for the police. “Fuzz” would usually refer to more than one policeman, or to the police force in general (they like to call themselves the “Police Service” now). “Rozzer” or “blue bottle” may well be in use in London, or in particular groups, but sound rather dated to me. “The Old Bill” may be used in London, but refers to the police in general – and isn’t particularly rude: there is a long-running TV series called “The Bill”.

  3. orientalflower

    Crackhead is def too American! Pig too.

    • tchernabyelo

      While I’d cautiously agree on “crackhead” (though I suspect it may be creeping in to use in some areas of London), I’d strongly disagree on “pig”, which was in fairly common use in the UK 20 years or more ago and almost certainly still is.

  4. leatherdykeuk

    Rozzer, Old Bill.
    Alas, I’m not part of the society that would use a derogatory term for the police.

    Crackhead does occur over here since we imported both the drug and the word. Generically we just use ‘druggie’

    • Marie Brennan

      The use of “crackhead” is less for an actual druggie, more for a random intruder who might or might not be looking for drugs. Said individual is also called “fucker” in that scene. Also anything along the lines of “dipshit” or “asshole” (does that just get converted to “arsehole,” or does it not get used as much as over here?), etc.

  5. Anonymous

    From a random brit (not london though)

    I wouldn’t consider copper to be an insult. My partner uses ‘pig’ and ‘pigs’ as insults though… also things like ‘Do you smell bacon?’ when a policeman is near. Might just be a northern uk thing though.

    Ceri xx

  6. lilifae

    Have got my receptionist on the job – loads of yardie talk coming your way very soon.

  7. tchernabyelo

    Well, I’m not young enough to be remotely up on all the latest slang, and I’d need to know when the book is set, but if you want to run anything specific past me, then message me (I was born in the UK and lived there for 48 years, until two months ago).

    Would have to be today, though, since I’m going to be offline after tonight.

  8. lilifae

    Okay, we’ve got:

    “blue bottles” (as in dirty flies)
    “the busies” (as in always in your business)
    “boydem” (as in “Boy, dem again”)
    and of course, one that is recognised world-wide: “five-oh”.

    Apparently there is more to be had. But these are the choicest, I think.

    • Marie Brennan

      What about general terms of abuse for other people? Things like (wow, I’m swearing a lot in this comment thread), “fucker,” “dipshit,” or “asshole” (“arsehole” just doesn’t look right to me, but if it gets used a lot I’ll use it, too). That’s more or less the context of the “crackhead” line at present — it’s directed at someone acting kind of crazy, not necessarily an actual druggie.

      • tchernabyelo

        In very rough ascending order, by how annoyed you are with the person in question: Prat. Twonk. Twat. Shithead. Cunt. All of these can cheerfully be embellished by sticking “fucking” on the front.

        • doriscrockford2

          Don’t forget “wanker”! ;P

        • Marie Brennan

          Gnnnagh. That last one is very appropriate — I should have thought of it — but it runs me head-first into my visceral dislike of the word. It’s right up there with “the n-word” for things I pretty much can’t bring myself to say.

    • tchernabyelo

      Fasinating: I’ve never heard “five-oh” used.

      “Busies/bizzies” has long been Liverpool slang, may well have been adopted from elsewhere or into other cultural groups.

  9. silme

    Hi there! I would say no to crackhead, and Ian the native agrees with me.

    Regarding synonyms for police officer, he says he’ll think of more later, but for now he suggests ‘rozzer’. (And he thinks a teen or child might say that.) Sometimes, you’ll hear ‘cunstable’. Also ‘the bill’ or ‘old bill’. Pigs and coppers are okay.

    • Marie Brennan

      Duplicated from above:

      What about general terms of abuse for other people? Things like (wow, I’m swearing a lot in this comment thread), “fucker,” “dipshit,” or “asshole” (“arsehole” just doesn’t look right to me, but if it gets used a lot I’ll use it, too). That’s more or less the context of the “crackhead” line at present — it’s directed at someone acting kind of crazy, not necessarily an actual druggie.

      • silme

        I can ask students tomorrow. ๐Ÿ™‚ Ian says he’ll think of some. Shoot! I don’t see the AS Lang kids until Monday; this would be fun for them. But I’ll ask the A2 Lang kids tomorrow.

      • feed_your_muse

        Well, overhearing general remarks in the supermarket / bus stop etc. (and do excuse the full spelling – wasn’t sure whether to asterisk bits out or not?) – wanker, twat, cunt, dickhead are all used in the UK (at both men and women, by both men and women). Sometimes they’re used to offend, but then equally they’re used between friends and don’t have such offensive overtones. Depends on who’s saying it to whom, and how pissed off they are.

        Hope that helps,

        Merry

        =^..^=

  10. silme

    Oh, if the cops are in London — the Met.

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