An excerpt from a conversation with a colleague when I first moved here
Them:“Morning, you a’ight?”
Me: quizzically touching my nose to see if was bleeding and quickly glancing at my reflection in a computer monitor to see if I looked particularly pale and sickly that day. “I am fine thanks, how are you?”
Them: looking up from their computer with a marginally annoying look on their face. “Um yeah, I’m fine”
Unbenounced to me, “you alright?” does not imply that something is wrong with you as it does in North America. There, we would use this question when someone has walked into a pole, fallen down a hole or has visible bodily injuries – certainly not first thing in the morning when you walk into the office (unless you had fallen in a hole on the way in).
Also, I learned quickly that they do not expect a response which explains why people seemed put out when I would stop and ask how they were doing – you a’ight is not an invitation for a conversation it is more of a greeting.
Thankfully I have had some wonderful colleagues who have coached me on many UK social graces and with practice, I can now say “you a’ight?” (without the use of an ‘L’ sound) and can respond correctly using the phrase “I’m a’ight, you a’ight” while swiftly walking past the person I am speaking to….who knew I had so much to learn!