What, exactly, do "barmy," "grafter," "bothies," and "porkies" have in common? If you need to ask, then you ought to be reading this quick and light-hearted guide to understanding what our favorite British detectives are saying while solving crimes across the pond!!
Ideal for fans of Midsomer Murders, Vera, Shetland and more, this insightful and essential list is designed to help every American fan of British detective fiction who longs for a SECOND set of subtitles to interpret the slang and idioms that turn up in the FIRST set.
The author, a former prosecuting attorney for the State, had for years found herself flummoxed by unfamiliar phrases like "fly tipping" and "on licence" while watching her favorite British cop shows and mysteries. Torn between the desire to pause the action to consult Google every time she was stumped by things like "belts and braces" and "digestive biscuits" or to just keep watching and hope that things would become clear later, she created this helpful guide for others in the same linguistic boat.
A rollicking good read...and quite useful, to boot!
Reviewed by Catherine Marcroft.
Of Bairns and Wheelie Bins is a witty, annotated British-to-American English dictionary translating over 250 words and phrases gleaned from various British series increasingly popular with American audiences who tuned in during the pandemic. As the author notes in the introduction, her list in not exhaustive. Wagner compiled these distinctive phrases after turning on the subtitles while watching these shows still left her confused. The subtitles did help to decipher unfamiliar accents and brogues, but not all of the meanings of the words.
As a curious consumer of the streaming world, you will want to have this book within reach. The characters in the myriad of British police procedurals and detective television series do speak English, but with Mary Wagner’s Of Bairns and Wheelie Bins, the mysteries will remain confined to the storylines and not mysterious language.
This book is great fun—a glossary of words and phrases in alpha order to assist you in making sense of your favorite British shows. Some British-isms will be familiar such as the British “lift” meaning a U.S. elevator or “torch” meaning flashlight. Others are more obscure and pertain specifically to crime stories. The British phrase “got form” means “has a police record” and a British “misper” means “missing person.” The author admits to having a few favorites including “bairns” and “wheelie bins” that appear in her book’s title.
If you are a fan Midsomer Murders, Hinterland, Shetland, Whitechapel and others, with Wagner’s book in hand, you can watch without going “doolally” (losing your mind) thinking it’s “a mug’s game” (waste of time) that leaves you “peaky” (out of sorts) because you have spent the evening “faffing” (wasting time on unimportant activities). Of Bairns and Wheelie Bins will have you “sorted” (straightened out) in no time. To which I say a hearty “Ta!” (Thanks!)