You can’t be what??

One of the things I have had to learn to do while speaking to my English counterparts is to try and quickly process what I think they might mean when they throw a new word, phrase or concept at me.  Most of the time I can piece together bits of the conversation an get the gist of what they must have been saying without asking a terribly daft question to further remind them that I am clearly not from around here.

One of the best examples of that is with one of my favourite sayings here which is ‘I can’t be arsed’ this essentially means that you can’t muster up the effort/be bothered to do something, whether that something is making dinner, replying to an email or going to work, it’s a great saying.   Aaah its Friday I can’t be arsed to work, let’s go to the pub. 


Anyway when said with a proper English accent, to me, it sounds like they were saying ‘I can’t be asked’.  Which makes sense doesn’t it?  You are so tired/lazy/hungover that even if someone ASKED you to do something, you still couldn’t be bothered…makes sense right?  During one of my attemptsto fit in with the English folk, I emailed a colleague around lunchtime and said something like ‘oh I can’t be asked to go out for lunch as its raining too hard….to which I got a reply “…asked??? Don’t you mean arsed?”  ….. “Oh wait, oops clearly I did mean arsed must have been a typo..hehe”.

At which point I realized I had this fancy new saying all wrong –  but how much more sense does arsed make? What does arsed mean? The past tense of your butt?  Hmm anyway I still can’t bring myself to say it as with an ‘American’ accent “I can’t be arsed” just sounds stupid.  I think that is one saying I will keep to my email communications only…at least until my full English accent kicks in, which should be any day now.

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3 Responses to You can’t be what??

  1. Corey says:

    This saying is perfect as I watch a crew clean up our front and backyard for spring!

  2. Dean Thake says:

    The phrase “I can’t be asked” is orginally from Southern England and has since

    been changed to the slang “I can’t be arsed”. The origins of this phrase can be

    seen on wikipedia;
    under the title “idiosyncratic differences”

    You can see further proof of this at the Eggcorn wesbite here;

    and from Professor John Wells blog from the department of speech sciences at UCL;

    (see the blog post dated Thu 7 sept 2006)

    I just Hope you can be asked to read them….

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