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  #1  
Old 09-01-2011, 01:49 PM
AndyLee AndyLee is offline
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British Slang - Burke

I have been watching DVDs of the old BBC series "Steptoe and Son."

Both the father and son seem to use the word "Burke" when describing people.

"He's a right burke he is" and so forth

I looked it up on Google and I come up with this

Definition of Burke

Does it really mean the "C" word? I can't believe they would let that slide on TV, especially in the 60s. Or does it mean something else in additon to that?
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  #2  
Old 09-01-2011, 02:01 PM
An Gadaí An Gadaí is online now
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Berk = Berkeley Hunt = C*nt
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  #3  
Old 09-01-2011, 02:22 PM
yojimbo yojimbo is online now
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That's it origin but it's nowhere near as strong.

Think at the level of asshole or a strong way of calling someone a fool.

Last edited by yojimbo; 09-01-2011 at 02:22 PM..
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  #4  
Old 09-01-2011, 02:24 PM
Galwegian Galwegian is offline
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Why not? We hear "twat" all the time, and while "berk" means the same thing, its generally not considered anywhere near as strong a word as "c*nt".

It's a UK programme, and generally they're more relaxed about language on TV.
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  #5  
Old 09-01-2011, 02:34 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Galwegian View Post
It's a UK programme, and generally they're more relaxed about language on TV.
Heh, on the PBS newshour once they were playing a clip from the UK where someone called the financial mess of the late 2000's decade a "cockup". When the panelists started quoting the clip, Gwen Ifill reminded the panel that they might not be able to say that word in America. Unfortunately, while we might be able to say "cockup" before the safe hour, if we can't, the FCC doesn't have to tell us before deciding that we've broken their rules.
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  #6  
Old 09-01-2011, 03:20 PM
Mk VII Mk VII is offline
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You never hear anyone say 'berk' now - can't think of the last time I heard anyone say it - perhaps because 'cunt' has become more acceptable (in this country, anyway).

One should add that it was never used to describe the female parts, but just someone who was acting foolishly.

Last edited by Mk VII; 09-01-2011 at 03:21 PM..
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  #7  
Old 09-01-2011, 03:43 PM
Springtime for Spacers Springtime for Spacers is offline
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People were a lot more innocent in those days. I doubt my parents knew the derivation and I (still a kid) certainly didn't. However despite the Steptoes use of the word (or come to think of it because they used it) we knew it wasn't to be used in polite company.
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  #8  
Old 09-01-2011, 04:08 PM
An Gadaí An Gadaí is online now
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I recall hearing it at least once in Only Fools and Horses. It's sort of like the way feck is to fuck. Feck was used in Father Ted and in other shows and nobody would bat an eyelid.

By the way, Burke and Berk are pronounced differently to my ears.
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  #9  
Old 09-01-2011, 04:30 PM
JessMagic JessMagic is offline
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I know "berk" as an outdated, mild insult that it's ok to say in front of Granny - yep, mostly likely heard in Only Fools and Horses or shows of that ilk.

I never related it to the "c" word - similar to how I never think about what "bugger" actually means.
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  #10  
Old 09-01-2011, 05:53 PM
Beware of Doug Beware of Doug is offline
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I much prefer "oik."

Some British person once defined an oik as the sort of person who, when at the door, causes one to pretend not to be at home.

Last edited by Beware of Doug; 09-01-2011 at 05:56 PM..
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  #11  
Old 09-01-2011, 07:06 PM
Gary Kumquat Gary Kumquat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyLee View Post
Does it really mean the "C" word? I can't believe they would let that slide on TV, especially in the 60s. Or does it mean something else in additon to that?
Yes it does. But then again, British slang includes hundreds of insults with that meaning, many of which are used as fairly mild insults. Fud, fanny, vadge, gash, minge, snatch...you get the idea (and apologies to the mods if this list contravenes rules, but it's hard to illustrate the point using a list of asterisked words)

And just to be more confusing still, the c word that Americans find so offensive can, in many British circles, be used as a jokey term of endearment. "Ya daft c***" is as likely to be levelled at a friend as an enemy in Scotland.
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  #12  
Old 09-01-2011, 07:11 PM
Onomatopoeia Onomatopoeia is online now
僕は女性の香りが大好きですよ。フア!
 
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Who is (or was) Berkley Hunt?
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  #13  
Old 09-01-2011, 07:14 PM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
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Originally Posted by Onomatopoeia View Post
Who is (or was) Berkley Hunt?
It's a thing. http://www.berkeleyhunt.co.uk/
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  #14  
Old 09-01-2011, 07:18 PM
kaylasdad99 kaylasdad99 is online now
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Evidently, it was a famous fox hunt (now unlawful in England). How I learned this.
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  #15  
Old 09-01-2011, 07:51 PM
Sierra Indigo Sierra Indigo is offline
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Cunt is not a proscribed word here, you're just not allowed to call another poster a cunt. So stop fannying around with asterisks and just type the word out.
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  #16  
Old 09-01-2011, 08:01 PM
An Gadaí An Gadaí is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sierra Indigo View Post
Cunt is not a proscribed word here, you're just not allowed to call another poster a cunt. So stop fannying around with asterisks and just type the word out.
You just wanted to use the word fanny.
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  #17  
Old 09-01-2011, 08:07 PM
Sierra Indigo Sierra Indigo is offline
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Originally Posted by An Gadaí View Post
You just wanted to use the word fanny.
Mostly, yes. Accusing people or hearing people accused of fannying around makes me giggle like a loon.
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  #18  
Old 09-01-2011, 08:40 PM
An Gadaí An Gadaí is online now
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Originally Posted by Sierra Indigo View Post
Mostly, yes. Accusing people or hearing people accused of fannying around makes me giggle like a loon.
I'm curious, are you British or American or X where X = something else?
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  #19  
Old 09-01-2011, 09:49 PM
sisu sisu is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by An Gadaí View Post
You just wanted to use the word fanny.
is that the American fanny or the Australian one?
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  #20  
Old 09-01-2011, 10:41 PM
Sierra Indigo Sierra Indigo is offline
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Originally Posted by An Gadaí View Post
I'm curious, are you British or American or X where X = something else?
X being Australian.
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  #21  
Old 09-02-2011, 04:14 AM
Double Foolscap Double Foolscap is offline
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Berk can be used on TV probably because it doesn't need to be explained to your six-year-old when he asks what it means - it can be passed off as meaning a silly person or fool.

I was in my late teens before learning the real meaning - Cockney rhyming slang isn't that commonly used as such in the shires.
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  #22  
Old 09-02-2011, 05:43 AM
Kal Kal is offline
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Never understood why it isn't pronounced 'bark', the same way 'berkley' is pronounced 'barkley'.

Because of the mildness of the insult, the pronunciation and the fact that plenty of other words made their way into English slang (minge, cosh, pal, chav, mush, etc) I spent years thinking that berk came from the Anglo-Romani word for tit.
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  #23  
Old 09-02-2011, 06:15 AM
An Arky An Arky is offline
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Yeah; I'm reminded of the Kinks song Berkeley Mews, in which Ray Davis pronounces it "Barkley"...anyway, isn't Cockney Slang already rendering NSFW terms SFW? Why should we add an additional layer?
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  #24  
Old 09-03-2011, 01:07 PM
Ximenean Ximenean is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal View Post
Never understood why it isn't pronounced 'bark', the same way 'berkley' is pronounced 'barkley'.
I think either because the people who originally popularised the "Berkeley Hunt = cunt" slang were being deliberately disingenuous, or they genuinely didn't realise that it was pronounced "Barkly". I mean, I'm English myself and I think I was in my twenties before I realise that "Berkeley" (the English town, not the American one), was pronounced that way. Despite being familiar with the county of Berkshire (pronounced "Barkshire", of course).

Last edited by Ximenean; 09-03-2011 at 01:11 PM..
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  #25  
Old 09-03-2011, 03:01 PM
Damfino Damfino is offline
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Originally the term "burke" with this spelling meant to stifle, suffocate or otherwise suppress. It was a reference to Burke and Hare who provided cadavers for dissection in Edinburgh by the convenient method of murdering them. The term is now archaic, of course.
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  #26  
Old 09-03-2011, 05:22 PM
Candyman74 Candyman74 is offline
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Like others, I've not seen it spelled "burke" (seems some folks have found old references to that spelling).

To me, it's always been on a level with "you silly billy" or "you wally" - very, very inoffensive. I learned the Cockney explanation later in life (Berkely Hunt = Cunt) but it doesn't resonate on that level with me. It's about as inoffensive an insult as you can get, and I haven't heard it used since my grandmother used it back in the late 70s. I've certainly never used it.

Last edited by Candyman74; 09-03-2011 at 05:23 PM..
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  #27  
Old 09-03-2011, 05:50 PM
Rilchiam Rilchiam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beware of Doug View Post
I much prefer "oik."

Some British person once defined an oik as the sort of person who, when at the door, causes one to pretend not to be at home.
"Rah rah rah! We're going to smash the oiks!"
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  #28  
Old 09-04-2011, 05:25 AM
enigmatic enigmatic is offline
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There tends to be a slightly affectionate component to "berk", and it's usually associated with a specific incident of stupidity

Berk = someone you like has just done something stupid

Twat = someone you don't like, has done something stupid or otherwise objectionable at some point in the past
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  #29  
Old 09-04-2011, 05:44 AM
amanset amanset is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mk VII View Post
You never hear anyone say 'berk' now - can't think of the last time I heard anyone say it - perhaps because 'cunt' has become more acceptable (in this country, anyway).

One should add that it was never used to describe the female parts, but just someone who was acting foolishly.
My Dad (a Yorkshireman) uses it quite a lot. Perhaps it is not only regional but for people of a certain age?
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