English slang: a guide for Martians and other Aliens

English slang: a guide for Martians and other AliensTrying to explain English slang to E2L speakers is bad enough. But what if we were to try and explain some of our common phrases to an alien from another planet?

Of course, we must assume they speak the basic English they will have picked up from listening to the BBC World Service. Here are my attempts at a few common phrases they really ought to learn. Please feel free to suggest some more. There’s nothing like being prepared for the future.

Grow a pair
Humanoid males carry their reproductive organs outside of their bodies, in the form of what’s colloquially known as “the 3-piece suite.” This consists of a projectile device used to propel procreation material into the female, supported either side by spherical objects which contain, and help produce, the necessary material for aforesaid propulsion. These spherical objects (also known as “balls,” “nadgers,” “bollocks” et al), being driven essentially by powerful male hormones, are thought to provide the humanoid male with courage and boldness. Some humanoid males do not behave as if they have such appendages, hence the expression “grow a pair” to suggest they stop whining and get on with it.

Throw your toys out of the pram
Human infants are unable to move for their first few months of life and so are either carried by their parents or conveyed in small, wheeled vehicles which can be pushed by the parent or other adult. These human infants are prone to becoming angry and frustrated whereupon they express this by throwing their amusement objects, known as toys, out of the vehicle, known as a pram. The expression is then transferred to adults when they exhibit similarly childish anger and behave like spoilt little sh*ts.

Way to go!
This is an expression used by our very recent – well, by your standards, anyway – humanoid settlers on the Earth continent known as “North America.” The origins of the phrase are buried deep down in the vast, swirling void of the English language which was taken over to that continent from its original home and chewed up, swallowed, digested and excreted by the proud settlers who thought they could teach their ancestors (who remained behind on the continent known as “Europe”) a thing or two by totally unpicking up the original English language.

Think outside the box
Humanoids are driven by an organ called a “brain” which acts in a way not unlike that of the ancient Central Processing Unit (CPU) used in Earth computing way back in the IBM dynasty. Contrary to some reports you may have heard, male humanoids do not always keep their brains in their reproductive organs (see above) although you could be forgiven for thinking that some do. In fact all humanoids’ brains are stored in their uppermost body section known as the “head.” This is the part which also drives vision, hearing, speech, smell and taste. Quite a rough deal for a 14 pound lump of ugly soccer-ball shaped tissue, but hey. Anyway, when humanoids say they should “think outside the box,” basically it means they need to get their brain’s current activity out of the gutter / soccer game / sex / shopping / the Kardashians  – ergo “boxes” – and apply whatever thinking power is left to dream up something new for a change.

Get your ducks in a row
“Ducks” are a species of flight creature that exist in abundance on Earth both as wild creatures as well as those cultivated for being killed and fed to nourish humanoids. An inanimate variety, invariably made from wood or synthetic material, used to be employed frequently as a decoration for humanoids’ habitations, usually arranged in groups of three and hung on the habitation’s main wall. Another use for such inanimate ducks on Earth is as an amusement whereby humanoids view same and, when these are lined up, attempt to drop them out of sight with the use of a vicious propellant known as a “gun” as the potential victims are paraded before the humanoids in relatively quick succession. Hence the term “getting your ducks in a row,” meaning to line up your best options and then let everyone else shoot the hell out of them.

Spending more time with my family
Humanoids “work” (perform services for which they receive recompense, which they then use to try to barter a living of sorts) – but sometimes, especially those humanoids “working” at high levels in organizations, happen to trip over some unfortunate truth about their superiors, or even worse, something that makes their entire organization or even government look like utter d*ckheads. Such humanoids are very quickly invited to resign their jobs in order to “spend more time with their families,” or else face total, public disgrace or possibly even murder, although of course we don’t ever acknowledge that. Such acts are always referred to as (fortunate) “suicides.”

Well, that’s it for now, readers from elsewhere in the Universe – hope to catch up with you soon.

Readers from Earth, what other expressions do you think our friends out in Space would find most useful to know?

Please add your recommendations here….

Now: some universal truths for you, Earthling…

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

“English to English: the A to Z of British-American translations”…more than 2,000 business and social terms from the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand

“The English Language Joke book”…hundreds of laughs about this crazy language of ours




  1. Always a pleasure to read your comedy