Greetings and saying goodbye
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Today is Saturday so I’m going to do a short podcast on slang or informal language. When I was at school, the slang you used was really important. It showed what sort of person you were and what sort of group you hung around with. You see, if I was talking to my teachers or my friends parents, I would say hello or good morning , how are you? This is friendly enough, but it would have sounded quite formal if I was talking to my friends.
Now this language comes round in cycles and I’m not going to pretend to know what is in fashion now, so here are some slang greetings and ways of saying goodbye that have been around for a long time and are examples of the sort of language you will hear if you ever visit the UK … well, if you ever visit the UK and go to a pub. OK – I need to add another clarification. I grew up in the south east of England and although I believe this language is widely used, you may well find differences in different parts of the UK.
The first phrase is all right. This means hello. Technically, it’s short for are you all right? But we just say all right and the appropriate response is all right. Notice the pronunciation. It’s very lazy. If I slow it down it’s something like or eye. We don’t normally pronounce the l or the t. When I was at school, if I was walking past a column of friends, we would sound a bit like ducks greeting – all right … all right … all right … all right … all right.
Very often, all right is followed by mate. All right mate? The word mate means friend, but is used quite generally to show that the speaker is friendly. I would say this to people I had just met, without any thought about whether or not they were my mate. It’s just part of the greeting. All right mate.
When I was at primary school, the most common greeting for a while was wotcha. This is short for what are you doing. Now, like all right, although this is in the form of a question, the speaker is not interested in the answer and the appropriate response is simply wotcha. This has been in and out of fashion, but I still hear it now and again. Like all right, it is often followed by mate. Wotcha mate – has at times been a very common greeting.
How’s it going?
Now, informal language in the UK is very shallow in meaning. We do not express deep feelings with this sort of language. In fact, the pub is not the place for deep feelings so we like to keep everything simple and present. For this reason, the normal phrase we use that follows all right mate? Is: how is it going? We do not ask: how are you? It is not that we don’t care about each other, it’s just we are in the pub to relax and we don’t expect to be burdened with other people’s problems. So we say, how’s it going? I want to know how things are for you right now, here in the pub. Not what troubles you are having at work or at home. How’s it going, now. Occasionally, how are you doing? And the appropriate response, no matter how you are actually doing, is: not bad mate. You?
Listen to the pronunciation because it’s tricky. Ow zi’ going? Or owye doing?
Instead of saying thank you, we normally say cheers. So if someone gets you a drink in the pub, you say cheers mate. Even if they are repaying you for a drink you bought them. You always say cheers or thanks. I bring this up because it is a polite informal thing to say to bar staff and bus drivers when you leave their places of work.
See you later
Now when you are saying goodbye to your friends, it’s very common to say see you later. These days, I often say bye, but for years, the only phrase I used was see you later. This is also heavily contracted to seyelater. It doesn’t matter if you are never going to see the person again. Even if your friend was about to emigrate halfway across the world, you could still say see you later.
There was a path where people used to hang out at break time at school and when I arrived there, I would greet my friends using the duck like: all right? all right? all right? all right? And when I would leave, I’d say See you later, See you later, See you later, See you later.
So there you have some essential informal language. All right mate? Wotcha mate? How’s it going? How are you doing? Cheers mate, and see you later.
If you are interested in informal english and slang, come back next saturday when I’ll record a new podcast on this sort of language. In these Saturday Slang podcasts, I will also cover swear words as they are very commonly used and don’t get much coverage in normal language classrooms
If you have enjoyed this podcast, please leave me a comment or a review and don’t forget that you can read the transcript for this podcast and complete some language activities on LearnEnglishVocabulary.co.uk.
Thanks for listening.