This is a guest post by Bridget Rooth. Although born a Brit, Bridget has been out of the United Kingdom for more than 20 years. She now lives in China where she runs English Trackers, an online English editing service. She blogs about the English language at Blogging Good English.
Enough about the Queen, what about us?
All this talk about the Queen’s jubilee has made me realise that living with a monarchy has led Brits to absorb a certain amount of monarchic language into everyday life.
The 'Royal we'
Take for instance “We are not amused”, a quote attributed to the longest-reigning British monarch, Queen Victoria. This use of the first person plural instead of the first person singular is known as the ‘Royal we’. There are various ways that the ‘Royal we’ is used by Brits. I have memories of my mother using this phrase to decide what we were all doing.
For example, someone in the family might ask what we were planning on doing on a Sunday afternoon, and my mother would say: “We’re all going for a nice walk.” This amounted to a royal decree and we all went for a walk! Another use is when people don’t have the courage to give their opinions outright. If this happens in a group and you don’t agree with the person, you might say: “Are you talking as the Royal we because I don’t agree with that?”
'His Lordship' and 'Her Ladyship'
Jokingly we might name someone ‘His Lordship’ or ‘Her Ladyship’; we might use this title when referring to someone we regard as self-important.
If someone is keeping you waiting, you might say to a friend: “Where has His Lordship got to?” or “When Her Ladyship deigns to call me I’ll let you know if I can come or not.”
This title is used for someone who gives commands or makes demands. It only exists in the masculine form and cannot therefore be used for a woman. [Note from the blogger: need I say more?] It is not rude to refer to someone this way, but it infers that you think they are rather bossy. It is written both with a capital and without.
For example: “Do you know when his nibs will want his breakfast tomorrow?”
'Muggins' or 'muggins here'
We even have a humorous title that we use to refer to ourselves. A mug is simple person, someone who is slightly gullible. We refer to ourselves this way when we’ve done something foolish. We tend to say ‘muggins here’ so that it’s clear we’re talking about ourselves.
For example: “When muggins here got to the airport, she realised she had left her passport at home.”
Now muggins here has finished this blog post, she would love to hear about any more royalty-related words and phrases in the English language, or indeed any other language, in the comments section.