- In every language there are phrases that don’t translate well.
- Dialect expert and YouTube star Korean Billy told Business Insider listed some British words people from outside the UK struggle to understand.
- He said his Korean mates can’t quite grasp “codswallop,” for one.
In every language, there are phrases that don’t translate easily – and British English is no exception.
This is something YouTube sensation Korean Billy knows all too well.
The South Korean has become a sensation for making videos explaining British slang and dialects, inspired by his time studying in the north of England. His most popular videos include the dialect from Liverpool, and the way London “roadmen” talk.
When Business Insider met Korean Billy during his most recent trip to London to hear about why he started making his videos, he highlighted three inherently British words that he’s found people from outside the UK struggle to understand.
“For me, one of the most British words that my mates back in Korea can’t really understand would be ‘codswallop,'” he said. “It’s like when you say something that doesn’t really make any sense – it’s like gibberish, I think.”
The Oxford Dictionary defines the word as “nonsense,” to be used in a phrase like: “I think that’s a right load of old codswallop.”
One theory suggests that a man named Hiram Codd patented a type of bottle for fizzy drinks. “Wallop” was a slang term for beer, and “Codd’s wallop” was used by beer drinkers to mean weak or gassy beer.
“Also, ‘blimey,'” he said. “It’s like a British style of being surprised – like British ‘Oh my god.'”
He’s right, according to the Oxford Dictionary, which says the exclamation is “used to express surprise, excitement, or alarm.”
It comes from “cor blimey,” derived from “God blind me.”
Surprisingly enough, he added: “When I also try to teach British accents or British English to my Korean mates I also teach the phrase ‘cheers,’ because my mates get really confused when they hear that phrase.”
For Brits, “cheers” is a way to express good wishes – often while raising a glass before drinking – but it can also be another way of saying “thank you.”
Deciphering the dialects
Billy told Business Insider that these words – as well as the word “posh” – all “sound strange” to his Korean friends.
“They all sound really British – even some American people can’t really understand those phrases,” he said.
However, it’s thanks to this that his videos have become so popular – he now has around 90,000 followers on YouTube.
“When I uploaded the British dialect videos, as I expected [my Korean audience] found it quite interesting because they didn’t know very much about the fact that there are different kinds of British dialects and accents,” he said. “They only know BBC English or standard English.
“Korean people say they are really happy that they now know the fact that there are different styles of English and more than one British English.”
You can take a lesson on the “Roadman” dialect from Billy here:
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