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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

To re-learn English or not to re-learn English...

Yesterday I overheard a woman speaking to her husband on the street in Stratford-Upon-Avon about their young child's litany of complaints and moans.  Okay, she wasn't so much speaking as she was hissing in that barely audible way that only Brits seem to be able to manage without sounding unbalanced.  It went something like this:

"Ian, would you please get Olivia to stop that incessant whinging.  It's simply got to stop this instant or we're going straight home."

Forget the fact that Zahava and I have played that tune a hundred times in public with our own children (without managing to sound balanced), I was completely smitten with the word 'whinge'. 

Unlike its American cousin, 'whine', whinge (rhymes with hinge) has that delightful electric 'g' sound in the middle that so perfectly sums up the shock that a child's braying can administer to the central nervous system of any nearby adult.

When I got back from touring and did a quick check of the on-line word-hounds, I found that I'm not the first American to have fallen in love with the word 'whinge'.  Sadly, the article (you'll find it about a third of the way down the page starting with "Aw, Mr. Cheney..."), went on to pronounce such American affectation of British-isms to be "pretentious" and "Pathetic".

So much for my shiny new word.  A shame really, since what Yonah does most days is so much more whinging than whining.

Posted by David Bogner on December 29, 2009 | Permalink

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aint nothing like real English to warm the cockles of your heart! Truth is, Trep, us Brits have sayings that are so much more effective that the American counterparts.

Posted by: Hadassah | Dec 29, 2009 1:17:53 PM

I think for Aussies "Whinging" might have a different meaning. As in "you whinging pom" I have no idea what that means.

Posted by: Jacob da Jew | Dec 29, 2009 3:44:44 PM

Whinging pom = http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Whinging+Pom

Whinging = http://stason.org/TULARC/education-books/sci-fi-sf-fandom/30-What-is-whinging.html

Also love Brit-isms.

Posted by: Mark | Dec 29, 2009 4:30:32 PM


You're right "whinge" doesn't sound lie "whine". Not sure which one I prefer.
It is funny as an outsider, as far as English is concerned, to observe the differences in the different variations of English. I remember an Australian girl who had no idea what a fortnight was.

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Dec 29, 2009 5:54:17 PM

Perhaps the solution is not to find a word to describe what Yonah is doing and marveling how it does and doesn't sound, but rather, to find a way to make Yonah happier.. jeesh. What kind of parent ARE you???!!

You know it's all the parents fault! :-P

Posted by: val | Dec 29, 2009 6:53:37 PM

Sounds a little like "wincing;" when a kid whinges, we wince. I bet there's a Yiddishism for it that's even better (but my Yiddish is shvach so I can't think of anything right now.).

Posted by: Lady-Light | Dec 29, 2009 7:05:08 PM

The Americans and the British....

Two Peoples divided by a common language.

Posted by: Ziggy | Dec 30, 2009 3:49:10 AM

In the Harry Potter series, don't the Dursleys live in a neighborhood known as Little Whinging? I wonder how many Americans got it.

Posted by: Rahel | Dec 30, 2009 8:21:16 AM

This is where being married to (and the child of) a non-American has its benefits. I think I can seamlessly pull off mixing my British, American and South African terminology, and I hope I do it without sounding pretentious. I speak many dialects of English, and David, you're too right - sometimes the other dialects have a leg up on us. Bryan's favorite American terms is "brown-bagging".

Posted by: Noa | Dec 31, 2009 11:05:41 PM

For the longest time, I thought my online Brit friends were simply making typos - I frequently add an extraneous "g" when typing "in" although I nearly always catch that mistake. I just assumed my friends weren't catching theirs.

My favourite Britishism is "gobsmacked" and I'll be durned if I'm going to stop using it because someone thinks I'm being pretentious and pathetic ;)

Posted by: Alissa | Jan 2, 2010 8:59:52 PM

I love whinging better than whining. But then I'm married to a Brit and therefore biased...

Posted by: Inna | Jan 3, 2010 9:27:09 AM

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