Marky Mark Talks British. Or Does He?

A few days ago, the American entertainer Mark Wahlberg gave an interview to The Sun in which he made some cutting remarks about singer Justin Bieber. Given that we are in a permanent silly season, it’s not surprising that his quote should have been picked up by new outlets all over the world, including my hometown Philadelphia Inquirer. Wahlberg–a former teen idol himself–supposedly apostrophized Bieber, telling him, in part: “Don’t be so naughty. Be a nice boy, pull up your trousers, make your mum proud.”

I say “supposedly” because the lingo is suspiciously British for a Bostonian like Marky-Mark. I’ve already covered trousers and mum on this site; naughty is certainly widely heard in U.S., but I believe it’s much more of a thing in the U.K., especially when applied to adults.

Presumably either Wahlberg tailored his diction to the Sun‘s readership, or the editors did the doctoring themselves. I suspect the latter. I couldn’t check the original quote because the Sun‘s archives are behind a paywall and I don’t subscribe. So all I learned at its site was “Gap Year Girls in Acid Attack” and “Towie Lucy Debuts Dodgy Afro.”

10 thoughts on “Marky Mark Talks British. Or Does He?

  1. someone from Boston saying ‘Mum’ is to be expected. I would imagine that wasn’t doctored unless from being in Hollywood he now says ‘Mom’ instead. I speculate that Marky Mark probably refers to his mother as ‘Ma’. I’ve said it before, when I was a kid and bought a mother’s day card that had ‘Mom’ in the text, I’d cross it off and write ‘Mum’. and I’m from Boston.

  2. Ben: I fancy the Sun’s subs edited Wahlberg’s comments to make them understandable to their readers. The Towie reference is to a character in a popular commercial TV drama: The Only Way Is Essex. Never seen it myself so I’ll leave it to others to reveal the etymological skinny (or Google it).

  3. 1. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were editorial tweaks. I’ve had quotes attributed to me in the press that I didn’t say.
    2. Thanks for the new (to me) word, paywall. I think I’ll use it.

  4. It’s fairly common for quotes to be spelled in the language of the person who transcribes them. For example, if a United Statesian said “jewlry” to an Australian, it would be spelled “jewellery”. As for ‘naughty’, he might have been quoting Monty Python…?

    What does “apostrophized” (sic) mean?

  5. If Mr Wahlberg spoke using American terminology, he would presumably have used “pants” for “trousers”. “Pull your pants up” to Britons brings an entirely different picture to “pull your trousers up”. So if it was “translated” by the Sun, it would be to ensure that readers understood Bieber was being urged to adjust outer garments, not underclothing.

  6. I was raised on “trousers” for nicer garments (especially when talking ot the grandparents) and “pants” for “sweatpants” and rugged clothing, which as a child I presumed was because it was clothing that you exert yourself until you’re “panting” in.

    It’s strange because I realize now that many of my figures of speech were apparently non-standard for Americans and that I must have been seen as fairly precocious and wound up adjusting them after we moved and I got bullied in grade school. I was an only child, mind you, who spent considerable time with his grandparents and reading, probably mostly British and New England authored books. And I never had many good friends until after we moved south and even then after getting bullied for “talking weird.”

    But it was trousers. Then pants for active wear (which I assumed was because you “pant” when doing the activities that go with them). (More rural members of the family might say “britches” sometimes semi-ironically. Which I assumed was because “britches” got “breaches” in the knees.) Then shorts, briefs, or knickers. Underwear was a more general category to which these things belonged, like housewares in a department store.

    One might say, “I’ve got housewares I need to go through in the pantry” but one wouldn’t say “I’m going to bake some turkey in my houseware.”

    I’m Gen Y. I’m trying to sort how I wound up the way I did, linguistically. I suppose it was just books, older people, and not many friends until I was 14 or 15. I did watch Doctor Who and Fawlty Towers and a lot of British programming but I also watched a good bit of American television as well, especially shows from ths 60s and 70s. I know I had strong preferences for spellings like “apologise” as well and the use of single quotes, which teachers trained out of me.

    Are phrases like “odd lots”, “odd goods”, “odds” (as a form of general wares) British? I suppose “odds and ends” is common enough but we used to say we’d be buying odds. “Rummage sales” and “rummaging” seems to be another of those terms, though we might also have lawn or more commonly yard sales. Garage sales always struck me as something they did somewhere else as I don’t think any but the wealthiest family members had garages.

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