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Wednesday, February 15, 2006 


Interesting phenomenon going on at work these days. As usual in autumn, a new crop of PhD students have arrived (and they look up at me with awe as I quickly answer all their questions while running all over the lab; strange how quickly it feels I went from newbie to expert.) Some didn't show up until November, and only now have they all started in the lab. So it's taken a while to see how the dichotomy was all going to fall out. Most are the usual international bunch: one from Sweden, three from Algeria, one from China, and one from Cornwall.

I was warned about this from before I even left America; that I would hardly meet any British people in London. At the time I couldn't care less, as meeting interesting people from all over the world sounds cooler anyway. But now I quite enjoy having a proper Brit around. The expressions alone are hilarious, despite the fact I've now been in London nearly seventeen months.

Cornwallian: Yea, so if you want to go out tomorrow night, just give us a bell.
Me: *thinking to self* why on Earth does he want with a bell?

C: I was looking forward to doing this, but now [Swedish] isn't coming in today, so I'm scuppered.
M: What?
C: Scuppered.
M: Huh?
C: Scuppered.

I often ask him to repeat himself, and he now does so willingly. I forgot exactly what this word was, and was repeating the story to another Brit later that day and got it confused with "stropy." Which I know isn't right, as would any Yank who's seen Bend it Like Beckham as many times as I have. So I had to back to Cornwall, and ask him again and now I've memorized it. Still not 100% sure what it means though.

Well scuppering is a nautical word I think. You'd scupper a ship, and sink it. Hence if you're scuppered, you're a bit stuffed and theres not much you can do about it :)

You scuttle a ship. Scupper is a stand-alone word (transitive verb) of unknown etymological origin that means: "to defeat or put an end to."

I shouldn't have put "scuttle" in italics; it makes me look like a prick. Ooh, la-dee-da, I know how to use a dictionary.

In ancient times, I think Cornwall was separate from England, like Wales is today.

Indeed, there is still a strong case for Cornwall's independence, as England has never formally swallowed it up as it were. In 2001, the UK census makers were nearly persuaded to offer Cornish as a seperate ethnic group, but bottled it. Maybe next time.

Who needs persuading that Cornwall is a seperate nation? It does have its own unique language. Something that is the hallmark of a nation.

Totally off thread here, but Monica, your prayers have been answered; A Krispy Kreme kiosk looked like it was about to open in Waterloo station this morning. It's at the platform 1 end (furthest from the Eurostar terminal.

Cornwall hasn't got a chance of getting seperated from England. (Not until we get independance first anyway)

I'm still learning the British lingo too, someone said to me the other day "I'm going to go and Quiche for a bit" - Go figure that one out.

To Quiche? Hmmm... puts me in mind of something cold, soggy and covered in egg. I hope they didn't mean that.

Turns out it meant "To Chill out"....

Hm, well I do know how to use a dictionary, but I thought I knew what scupper meant so I didn't..
So you've taught me something new and I'll remember it from now on :)

See how educational blogs are...

You sure they said QUICHE and not KIP?


Link down the page a bit...

Scupper means to "sink a ship" I think.. But that's not looking it up, or anything... That's from actually sinking a sailboat in Lake Minnetonka, and having the owner tell me that I "scuppered his boat."

Take that as ye will...

-- T

There is certainly a very strong case for Cornish independence. Any right-thinking English person will agree.

Like so many British words and expressions, scupper is nautical in origin but has assumed a more general meaning. Scuppers are drains to allow water on a ship to drain off the deck. If you were overcome by waves or high seas etc the water could come in through these drains and you'd be 'scuppered' or sunk. Scuppered has therefore come to mean generally screwed or, to use the British again...buggered...

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