I Jolly Well Don’t Talk Like That!

Am I the only one who, almost instinctively, associates the word “jolly” with Enid Blyton or some other of her ilk? Not that that’s a bad thing – it was perfectly common language at the time, even among teenage girls – but the fact that some people still expect boarding school girls like me to whip it out  every other sentence really makes me wonder.

So, today, I thought I’d take advantage of this spare time at the end of my oh-so-hectic Monday to tell you about another commonly misconstrued facet of boarding schools – straight from the horse’s mouth. Literally!

Though I’m a boarding girl, I’m really not one to talk about funny accents. In my first two years at my school, people asked me whether I was American, Australian, and once even Eastern European. My History teacher, who has taught me for three years, was also convinced I was Canadian at one stage, because I still hadn’t fully dropped the accent from the time I lived there. Nowadays, you’ll be happy to hear, my accent has calmed itself and settled into a fairly regular tone – it sounds like this. To me, of course, this sounds perfectly normal – everyone else in my little boarding bubble has a similar accent – but, as you can see from some of the comments below the recording, others think it’s hilariously posh!

(Additional note: To any “Demyx Time” fans that may one day be in the audience … Vexen voice, anyone?)

But, strangely, though the accent is a fine part of the boarding school mystery (not to mention an essential part of any half-decent imitation!), it’s not the first thing that people think of when they pretend to “talk boarder” as it were. It’s more words like “jolly”, “horrid”, “awfully”, and “I say!” used in copious amounts that tend to point out that one is a boarder, right?


Well, sort of. While we may be more prone to use of the sort of language you’d expect from Dad’s Army or a contemporary World War One play, for the most part we boarders talk just like everybody else – including all those floral four and five letter words usually reserved for occasions when one’s hip connects in that especially painful way with the edge of a desk. We use common text contractions (well, I don’t, but that’s my inner Grammar Nazi talking), we say “like” in that awful teenage manner, and we even – horror of horrors! – call our parents the normal “Mum and Dad”. Get all those thoughts of “Mumsie” and “Daddy dearest” out of your head this minute!

However, in order not to sound like a total killjoy, I’ll let you know the posh part of our speech too. Where I’m stationed, out in the woolies of Dorset, we’re not terribly up-to-date on the latest teen phrases. If someone said “peng” to me, I’d wonder if I’d wandered into a Star Trek convention, but – according to The Telegraph anyway – every other “average teen” in the country would know immediately it’s slang for “pretty”. There are other phrases like this, but as I’ve yet to go into an area where they’d be used, I can’t tell you what they are. Drop me a comment and see if I can guess the word’s meaning, make a game of it! Hehe.

…. And, alright, we do say “jolly”. Not often, not usually in public, but we do.

Are you happy now?


25 thoughts on “I Jolly Well Don’t Talk Like That!

  1. Perhaps I’m showing my age, Charley, but I do say ‘jolly’, ‘awfully’, and God forbid, ‘I say’!
    But then yes, I did grow up with Enid Blyton and the weekly comic, Schoolfriend, and it’s delicious counterpart, Schoolfriend Annual. My favourite trio were the Secret Three!
    But I’m Australian too and part of the British Commonwealth of Nations so the sayings were a given in my life.

    Can I ask a favour?
    Just for me?
    Can I have at least one ‘jolly’ in the novel? For times’ past? Memories are so important for we oldies.

    • Charley R says:

      Hehehe, it’s no worry that people still use it – it just worries me that they think TEENAGE GIRLS still use it all! And we do, sort of, say those …. just a bit ….

    • I was just explaining to Charley yesterday that I used to collect children’s books and had the full range of all the best girls’ books and annuals, including School Friend – I’m guessing that’s the same one you had in Australia? – and Girls’ Crystal, and. Schoolgirls’ Own and…

      I went on to write for several girls’ comics and magazines including Bunty, Judy, Just Seventeen, etc.

      I’m really hoping that one day soon all those wonderful annuals from yesteryear will be scanned and transformed into ebooks and live on forever.

  2. Okay from the other side of the Pond (So much fun calling the Atlanic that!) :}

    As an American, Charley, you sound Brittish… period. I can’t tell one accent form another, though some if I heard them I might. But the way you might not be able to say where a particular American accent is from, but I can.

    As a militray brat I completely understand the whole – where are you from? My American accent is sort of middle raod, thoughwhen excited I bring out the Bostonian/Cape Cod accent, which is kind of fun. I’m also used to melding. I was in the SOuth for an intership one summer. I hadn’t been there more than a week when my bf (now hubby) called and teased me for having a Southern aaccent, I’d picked it up so quickly.

    As to all that Jolly and I say, all those other ‘Posh words that Mark and Prue were exchanging – that’s what we amaricans think all brittish talk like… Okay not really but when I see them I think Brits with noses high in the air sipping tea. thankfully I know your a much more friendly lot than that.

    Wicked! (Bostonian for cool)
    :} Cathryn / Elorithryn

    • Charley R says:

      LOLses! Americans are forgiven their misconceptions as there’s a large ocean between you and us … and we have stereotypes in return, lol! But people of our own age group that we meet every day in the street? Not quite so forgivable there xD

      • Oh yes, most totally true. :} Of course I really can’t say anything about what teens say over here since I am no longer one. Funny how you’ve got the Like thing going over there – that seems like a total 80’s thing to me. :} (heck on the XM radio on the 80’s channel there’s on blurb that says ‘My mom forbad me from using the word like and I couln’dt speak for two weeks.”) :}

        • Charley R says:

          Hehe, we don’t use it QUITE as much as the 80s did, but we do use it in a lot of technically inappropriate places. Most people think it’s normal, but my teachers hate it xD

  3. Miss Alexandrina says:

    I’m often told off by a close friend of mine for say ‘Oh my!’ or ‘my my!’, especially in internet conversations. I like pushing myself into the 1930s- that reflceted in the stories I write. Also, I find, as a Christian, it is hard to find something to exclaim without sounding posh; after all, OMG and LOL sound ridiculous to me…even if I do come from The Internet!
    I wouldn’t call myself posh, but, to be honest, this is the first time Ive ever heard the phrase ‘Peng’. Very weird. On the oer hand, I have been known to call others ‘common’. Oh dear! xD
    Alexandrina 🙂

    • Charley R says:

      Hahaha, I’ve never emitted a “lol” or an “OMG!” in my life, though my friends often do. But I’m a complete syntax/grammar Nazi, so the day you see me saying those out loud is the day you know I’ve gone insane.
      On the other hand, I do use them sometimes in emails now. Mainly because I like using Caps Lock, hehehe 😛

      • Miriam Joy says:

        I use ‘lol’, just because it’s too brilliant a word not to. I don’t use Oh My God because my mum hates it (since we’re a Christian family), so Oh My Gosh has to suffice. I actually substitute a lot of swear words when I’m in my parents’ hearing – my favourite has GOT to be saying ‘Zark off’ to my dad and him going, ‘Excuse me?!’ because he thought I’d said something ruder, and I just went, ‘I said “Zark off”. You can’t yell at me for that.’ And he had to admit that he couldn’t.
        Hitchhiker’s slang ftw!

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