Re: RARA-AVIS: Layer Cake--Brit slang

Date: 02 Jun 2003

Kid Creole and the Cocoanuts were quite a bit noise in Britain when I were a lad. They had three or four top ten hits on the trot (I am guessing from memory). But to a person of my age they would mean something. The dole, more usually the Jam (Jam roll - or ham or whatever you put in your roll), sometimes the Rock and Roll as well. Jack and Danny I have no idea on. Slang usually translates itself if you are meant to get it. It is, of course, very time and place specific. The UK is because of its size more homogenuous than the UK but a lot of slang references will be in jokes - something UK writers under the thrall of Elroy and his time and place specific fiction have gone too far with and become too self referential with, I think. For example to the people I know
"Chinny chin chin you gave her a right tuning till she ramped like a burner", would to most of the people of my age, class and interests mean (and I have been on the end of similar sentences from people from completely separate areas of the country - our national television plays a large part in this I think). Well anyway, now to translate: I don't believe that you mocked her until she went really crazy with you There you go. Americanisms are more universal than any and slang is lovely, but, yes I have struggled with some and I think it is a particularly british disease to use slang (in fiction) as an excluding device. All the best Colin

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