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Q: Brit slang ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   12 Comments )
Subject: Brit slang
Category: Relationships and Society > Cultures
Asked by: archae0pteryx-ga
List Price: $2.02
Posted: 01 Oct 2005 17:55 PDT
Expires: 31 Oct 2005 16:55 PST
Question ID: 575172
1.  Which word does "bally" rhyme with, "valley" or "holly"?
2.  Why?

Thank you,

Clarification of Question by archae0pteryx-ga on 25 Oct 2005 18:27 PDT
Well, never mind why, then.  I thought it might have a conspicuous
etymology that I just didn't see.  For what it's worth, I'd like to
award this one to answerfinder-ga for the, um, unusual verse, the help
with pronouncing the B, and the apt citations.

Thank you,
Subject: Re: Brit slang
Answered By: answerfinder-ga on 26 Oct 2005 04:01 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear archae0pteryx-ga,

Thank you for accepting my comment as an answer - despite the poem.
When you asked Why? I didn?t realise you wanted its entomology. Bally
is a euphemism for Bloody - used in the context of swearing. I don?t
have access to the OED but other dictionaries place it is as an
obscure 19 century British origin.

?Bally adj

1. dated, colloq
A mild form of bloody, but almost meaningless.
Etymology: 19c.?


his bally old play:    "bally" is a euphemism for "bloody," which has
no equivalent in American English; a "bloody shame" could roughly be
translated as a "damned shame." ?

Best wishes


Clarification of Answer by answerfinder-ga on 26 Oct 2005 04:02 PDT
Sorry, that should read etymology.

Request for Answer Clarification by archae0pteryx-ga on 26 Oct 2005 20:07 PDT
Thanks, answerfinder.  Your answer is fine, and I don't want to
belabor the point.  But a euphemism or substitute (like "darn" for
"damn") isn't etymology.  I was asking why it's said as it is--which
is sort of another way of asking how "bally" came to stand for
"bloody."  My thought was that either it has something to do with the
word "ball" (if it's said one way) or, if it isn't, then it's related
to some other word.  I was just curious.  But maybe there's no answer
to that.  Thanks anyway.


Clarification of Answer by answerfinder-ga on 27 Oct 2005 07:53 PDT
Dear archae0pteryx-ga,

I made a trip to the library and the OED (Second Edition) does not
throw any light on the subject. It is first noted as being used by
Thackery in 1847.

Bloody was a vulgar term in the Victorian Britain. Often it appears in
print as b_______y or b_______. Personally, I think bally was coined
as useful way of swearing but not to lower one to vulgarity.

"now constantly in the mouths of the lowest classes, but by
respectable people considered 'a horrid word', on par with obscene or
profane language."

Thank you for the tip.
archae0pteryx-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $1.01
Rhymed answers just have that extra-special something.

Subject: Re: Brit slang
From: princezz_elle-ga on 02 Oct 2005 01:14 PDT
i dont think it rhymes with eitha of those.. i think its said like
ball then with an "e" eg: ball-e.. well i hope i helpd
Subject: Re: Brit slang
From: rainbow-ga on 02 Oct 2005 01:22 PDT
This may help:

Subject: Re: Brit slang
From: frde-ga on 02 Oct 2005 01:50 PDT
I'm British
- definitely 'valley' in RP (ie no regional accent)

It's a bit of an archaic word (WWII ish)
- one would only expect to hear it from a crusty old codger
Subject: Re: Brit slang
From: archae0pteryx-ga on 02 Oct 2005 11:25 PDT
Thanks, you three.  I have read this word in countless British novels,
mainly whodunits in the Sayers/Christie/Carr tradition, and never
known quite what to do with it.

And I'm still at a loss.  Two commenters disagree, and Rainbow's
dictionary entry does not say how to pronounce the "a".  My question
about rhymes was meant to make it unequivocal without resorting to the
international phonetic alphabet, but I am assuming standard American
pronunciation of "valley" and "holly" and that may not work.

frde, as an authentic source, please tell me if the "a" is the same as
the "a" in call, hall, wall, tall, fall, etc.  That will settle it. 
What's RP?  (princezz, you didn't mention where you were speaking

As to "why?", there I am wondering if it is related to or derived from
some other familiar word and what the connection is.

Thank you,
Subject: Re: Brit slang
From: efn-ga on 02 Oct 2005 12:01 PDT
Dictionaries agree with frde that it rhymes with "valley."  I think
I've heard it said that way in films, too.

RP is Received Pronunciation.

"Why?" will be hard to answer.  It's a euphemism for "bloody," but
nobody may know why that vowel was chosen.
Subject: Re: Brit slang
From: archae0pteryx-ga on 02 Oct 2005 14:05 PDT
Thanks, efn-ga.  So does the "a" in your "valley" match the "a" in
"call"?  It doesn't when I say it.  It's the same "a" as in "Allen"
and "pal" and "Sally" and is also very close to "cat" and "man" and
"ask."  In other words, it is not "ball" + ending.
Subject: Re: Brit slang
From: frde-ga on 03 Oct 2005 00:36 PDT
RP is Received Pronunciation
- say a non regional BBC accent
- but not a 'drawl' as in P G Wodehouse's characters

Bally rhymes with Sally

In a Sayers or Christie novel it would probably be pronounced with a
'drawl', in which case it would sound more like 'belly'
- however (outside certain circles) such an accent is regarded as a
bit of a joke - and is used to identify an 'upper class twit'
- eg: a Wodehouse character that says 'weely' rather than 'really'

As an aside, I once met a South American guy who explained that the
South American pronunciation is the original one, and the domestic
Spanish lisp was a result of coutiers aping the Hapsburg Royal Family
who had overbites, and therefore 'lithped'.

I now wonder whether something similar happened in the UK, we also had
German imports, and the European monarchies are an inbred bunch.
Subject: Re: Brit slang
From: answerfinder-ga on 03 Oct 2005 01:20 PDT
Asked my good friend Sally 
Who lives down in the valley 
And slaves over the kitchen galley
Oh what is this word bally

So let me not any more dally
Nor lead you up a blind alley
But together we must rally 
And learn that bally rhymes with tally

B is pronounced as the b in bag but shorter in length

(Sorry about the appalling poetry.)

"Miss 'Enderson,' he has said, 'I have for you the bally good news."
The Man Upstairs and Other Stories by Wodehouse, Pelham Grenville

"If it's any of my business, how the devil did you ever get into that
bally jungle?"
Tarzan of the Apes by Burroughs, Edgar Rice

"If you ask me, I call the whole thing bally foolishness."
Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing Of The Dog) by Jerome, Jerome K.

Subject: Re: Brit slang
From: myoarin-ga on 03 Oct 2005 15:07 PDT
Very interesting about those lisping Spaniards.
But yes indeed, Vicky from Hanover did influence British
pronunciation.  That is why "you" say "shedule" instead of "Skedule",
and "niether" instead of "neither", ditto for either, of course, and
maybe also tomato with a short A instead of "tomaito", as any
self-respecting American does.  If you pronounce potato with a short
A, ... well, you tell me if that is affected.  :)
Maybe "vase" with a short A too.  If Prince Edward and sibs had been
sent school, you would probably say "shool", but the Queen didn't use
that word.

Does "bally-hoo" have anything to do with this question.

Subject: Re: Brit slang
From: frde-ga on 04 Oct 2005 05:25 PDT

Well we did have a stream of Hanovarian Georges prior to Vicky.
I think George I spoke no English - that must have been handy

Schedule is I think derived from the French pronunciation, despite the
Germanic spelling. The word is of Latin origin - although it looks as
if they nicked it from Greek.

One that really grates on me is the American pronunciation of 'route',
we pronounce it comme les Francais (root) and a rout or a router
(rowt) have nothing to do with a path between two spots.

German pronunciation and spelling was highly regional until Dueden got
in on the act (heck Germany was only formed in about 1870) and
supposedly it was touch and go as to whether German should be the
language of the USA
- rather than English.

I suspect that some US pronunciation was determined by non-native
English speakers looking at spelling and applying less quirky rules
than those used in the UK

UK standard English is ancient German overlaid with Norman French

USA English is circa 1600 UK English overlaid with Heinz 57
(probably in some cases more academically correct)

In some ways it is incredible that the languages have not diverged
further, I suspect the film industry had something to do with it.

Since the advent of the internet, I've noticed that UK'ers enjoy
teaching others Brit slang - I suspect it goes both ways.

Rather amusing - I must re-examine my vocabulary.
Subject: Re: Brit slang
From: archae0pteryx-ga on 25 Oct 2005 19:02 PDT

I must disabuse you of the notion that all Americans pronounce things
alike.  Multicultural effects aside, we have very strong regional
differences, as this little quiz shows:

The question here that does not make sense is whether you rhyme
"route" with "root."  I do.  I'm from the Northeast, and in my speech
both words rhyme with "shoot" and "boot."  But I live on the West
Coast, where people rhyme "route" with "out" (the pronunciation you
dislike; so do I).  "Root" still rhymes with "shoot" here, though.  I
went to school in the Midwest, where "root" rhymes with "foot."  No
one anywhere would say "route" that way.

You can't really make big generalizations about U.S. pronunciation. 
Some U.S. pronunciation that might sound strange to you would sound
familiar to your ancestors.  In some communities in the Appalachian
Mountains, which were heavily settled by Scottish-Irish immigrants in
the 1700's, the sound of English hasn't changed much since then,
although in the U.K. it has.

Don't leave the Danes out of your notion of the origins of present-day English.

I don't think very much of our American speech at all has been
influenced by nonnative speakers.  However, I also believe that is
going to change.  Between the Hispanic and Asian influences,
especially on the West Coast (where American films and TV shows are
made), the default value for a lot of vowel sounds is changing.  I
also think some inflections and constructions are going to atrophy out
of a combination of disuse and ignorance.  The present subjunctive,
alas, is going to be the first to go.  But I intend to keep on using
it, and using it correctly, right to the bitter end.  If I can't
manage to make my last words a question (as I hope to do), I'll try
for a construction in the present subjunctive.

Subject: Re: Brit slang
From: frde-ga on 27 Oct 2005 03:33 PDT

Apologies, I've not spent much time in the USA, and did not realize
that pronunciation was so varied.

Many thanks for the information.

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