Happy New Year!
Please just have a look at this: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XODY0ODg4NDU2.html
So, "shit" (swear word) is negative, while "the shit" is positive...That's funny!
I was wondering if the word is used in the same way in BrE or Aussie English as well? Or is this video mainly featuring the Amerian slang usage of the word?
From what I understand, y'all do something similar with "bollocks" and "the dog's bollocks".
Bonne année, mon ami!
A very entertaining little tutorial, I must say. One thing you have to realise about English speakers outside the USA is that we are essentially bilingual. Or at least bilingual when it comes to receptive skills. The world is so dominated by American culture that we can all understand it with very little effort. British toddlers grow up accepting that one of their favourite cartoon characters says 'Come see Mom's cookies' while another says 'Come and see Mum's biscuits', and - on a receptive level -they are equally at home with both varieties of language. Words and phrases originating in American English may or may not become part of our active language. If they do, it takes much longer, of course, and generally starts from the youngest generation, sometimes filtering up to older people - sometimes not.
Getting back to the delightful topic of the video...
The general use of the word, as an all-purpose expletive to indicate shock, annoyance or surprise - vulgar but not obscene - is widespread, needless to say.
The secondary meaning, simply indicating 'stuff' is also used, mainly by younger people. A young person would say to his friend to encourage him to wash up the dishes and so on after a meal 'Come on, we've got to tidy up all this xx'. This is neutral, or possibly slightly negative.
The deliberate use of the word to indicate something positive has not reached Britain, as far as I know. But it would be understood. We have other phrases, such as 'It's the business!' to indicate approval, and it would be very clear from the context what the speaker meant.
This is my view, as a middle-aged, middle-class British person who doesn't tend to swear at all. Others may disagree.
Haha, fair enough.
Indeed we do, Mike. But I didn't want to lower the tone further by mentioning it. ;)
Bonne année, Su.Ki! Thanks for your informative reply!
Yes, American English has really been dominating nowadays. Nearly 70% of the teaching kits, including audio-visual and reading materials, in Chinese middle school English classes are based on American English. When I was studying English at college, 80% of our foreign teachers were Americans as well. However, our textbooks were licenced textbooks from the UK, so what we learnt from the textbooks was mainly British English. That's why I have been quite interested in learning the differences between British and American English, esp the accents.
Below is another video English-teaching series by Mr Duncan in England. I find it a great way to learn more about British English and its culture and society.