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War-ah, haytch, and the British abbreviation system

I’ve only been here a month but already I’m starting to pick up on the British way of abbreviating words and phrases.


Take the word water, for example. It’s a nice, symmetrical word (consonant – vowel – consonant – vowel – consonant ) and rotates nicely about the T.

The people who live in South East London aren’t content with this word as it is, they have decided to make it harder to say under the pretext of abbreviating it. So they rip out the T (like they do with a lot of words, actually) so now you have “war-ah”. Or perhaps, “war ‘ ah”. I don’t know what the point of this is… it actually makes it harder to say!


Not content with their violation of the letter T in an attempt at simplification – they’ve decided to overcomplicate the letter H as well. We say “aitch,” but people around ‘ere want to sound a bit posh, so they prefix the word with an extra h, pronouncing it “haytch” … or maybe “haitch”. They’ve over-aitched it. What are they thinking? They don’t say “feff” or “nenn”or God-forbid, “Xexx” (I wouldn’t even know how to pronounce that one!”).

Know what I mean?

Abbreviation is taken to the extreme with this six-word phrase: “Do you know what I mean?” I hear it abbreviated to… “nah mean?”

It all came to a head when I saw a commercial for Maggi soup… and pronounced the brand name Maggie. I’m off to Ireland…

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