Monday, February 11, 2013

Fraffly Fain Spitch

Watching an old Hitchcock film from the 1930s, I noted the actors, portraying members of the British upper-class, spoke with such tortured vowels and clipped consonants that it was virtually impossible to understand a word (a phenomenon not helped by a scratchy sound track).  What these folks were speaking is “Fraffly”—a term coined by the pseudonymous linguist Afferbeck Lauder to describe the affected English dialect sometimes spoken in certain parts of London’s West End such as Mayfair and Belgravia.

The name “Fraffly” comes from the way Lauder suggests these Brit twits pronounce “Frightfully,” which is often used as a synonym for “very.”  The classic example is the phrase “Fraffly caned a few”—which translates as “Frightfully kind of you.”

Can you get the sense of these other examples of Fraffly?  (It helps if you say them aloud through your nose and think of yourself as Bertie Wooster.)

Ashered if thotty would hef bin myrrh kretful.

Wong con blemmer, relleh, when won nerzer bare crond.

Earce and nir.

Shiss fay caned, and fay swit; aim fay fawn torfa.

Ah peck your poncer, putt mairn trop choofra merment?

Sweller’s bing a jollickered spot, yolso plessy fittel.

Aim Kuwait sheer hiss nert kirming to the fermly mitting.  

The Bard of Buffalo Bayou has no truck with Fraffly; in fact he has no truck of any sort.  His preferred mode of transport is a little red wagon, which many of his unfortunate readers would like to fix.  He does, however, know a tale or two about Belgravia and Mayfair. 

            A vicar who preached in Belgravia
            Engaged in most shocking behaviour:
            He’d blaspheme the bishop
            In sermons he’d dish up--
            Then blame them on St. Francis Xavier!

            An asthmatic vicar in Mayfair,
            Used a filter to guarantee safe air,
            Then, with no bronchial strictures,
            He’d go to the pictures,
            Where he liked to watch nothing but gay fare.

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