British use of the word "gaffer"

Sorry - that was me making a little joke.

What do you consider a “long a”? In the US, that is an “ay” as in “day” sound. I assume it’s not, right?

Ah as in far, car etc

Yeah this is why talking about language without some common ground (like IPA) is frustrating. We don’t call that sound a “long A” in the US. I’m not even sure we have a special name for it, as it’s not “short a” (which for us would be the the ae sound, or the “a” in “can” for you, but not the “a” in “c’ant” for you — whereas for us, those both take the same vowel.)

I remember a conversation between two young women from different parts of England who disagreed about the pronunciation of the word “bath”. One pronounced it with the “trap” vowel and the other with the “palm” vowel. The one who pronounced it with the trap vowel bolstered her argument by saying “there’s no ‘r’ in ‘bath’”.

Speaking of overcorrection, I only realised quite recently that RP speakers don’t rhyme “grass” /grɑːs/ and “mass” /mæs/, /mas/. A non-RP speaker (like me) attempting an RP accent would likely get this wrong because there is no obvious rule. Similarly RP-speakers attempting a rhotic accent are likely to introduce an “r” sound in words like “palm”. Dr Geoff Lindsey has an excellent video on the topic.

And while I know what you’re talking about here, even that vowel sound is pronounced differently depending on what accent. They could mean /ɑ/ or /ɔ/.

Unless they’re a particularly precious sort of Catholic.

And those older English Catholics pronounce (religious) “Mass” different from (physical) “mass”, right? Very strange.

There are - or were at one time - people who lengthened the vowel (mahss).

[Perhaps they anticipated confusion over the Higgs boson😏]

A Higgs Boson walks into a Catholic church. The priest says, “We don’t want you here, you so-called ‘God Particle’”! The Boson says, “But how can you have Mass without me”?

Aside: The overwhelming majority of the mass that we’re familiar with has nothing at all to do with the Higgs boson. The Higgs process is believed to give electrons and quarks their mass, but most of the mass in a proton or neutron (and hence most of the mass in ordinary matter as a whole) is in the binding energy between the quarks, not in the quarks themselves.

A wise man once said “never analyze comedy”

On the topic of British use of words, what’s the deal with police calling their female boss “Ma’am”? It sounds strange/archaic to me, but seems commonplace on British police shows.

“I was speaking to my son who is also named Barth.”

Because they call their male bosses ‘Sir’. They adopt formal ranks like the army, so anyone ranked Inspector or above gets called ‘Sir/Ma’am’ accordingly.

Thanks, guv!

That’s Ma’am to you

Sorry, no ill intent on my part. Just using up what little Brit-Speak I’ve heard on the telly. (can a lady be guvnor?)

I was jesting. But to answer, yes, I think it’s perfectly acceptable, and reasonably common, for someone such as a police officer to refer to their female superior as ‘guv’.

Outside of the formal setting of police etc, ma’am is rather archaic. Most people wouldn’t address a friend, relative etc like that. I habitually do, because it’s a bit of fun. A formal address being used for added informality.