PacificYorkshireBird – "What are you like?"

Posted on May 19, 2009 by pacificyorkshirebird

avt_kapyork_large115 Hi Gals!

Remember me?  I have never really liked the expression but you may be thinking “What are you like?” Because I haven’t been posting on our fabulous blog for WEEKS!  And boy have I missed you ladies.

Lets see, I moved to Lancashire (temporarily), had a B&B tour of SW England, gave my notice on my job, broke 2 computers, fixed one broadband connection, sent too many emails to my wedding planner, signed up for temporary health insurance in the US,  and now here I am… back!

I have only 6 days left in the United Kingdom and it feels SO weird.  You know that feeling you get right before you leave the US for some undetermined amount of time to be an expat?  Well, that is how I feel now about leaving Britain.

And I leave Britain completely confused about the expression “What are you like?”  Actually, I don’t even know if it is a question or a statement.  I know it is sort of the same as someone saying “oh, you silly cow” after you do something stupid, or forget to do something that should have been obvious.  I can think of plenty of repsonses to being called a silly cow.  But how am I supposed to respond to “What are you like?”.  Hmm… “I’m like a person whose life changed so quickly I couldn’t manage to keep up with my blog.”  Or… “I’m like a 28 year old British woman, except that I’m American.”  Or… “I’m like, so totally blonde.”

It still baffles me ladies… still.  Say it in a Yorkshire accent and it nearly sends steam out my ears.  What American things will baffle me this time next week?  We’ll soon find out.  Unless I break more computers.  Hopefully not.  :)

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Steve Shawcross July 29, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    “What are you like”, is usually meant as a rhetorical question– rather in same way as “who cares” or “who knows” are….

    The expression was popularised by telly chef Ainsley Harriet: It’s a humourous/affectionate way of expressing amusement at somebody’s perceived eccentricity or daft behaviour.

    It’s like saying: “You’re a character aren’t you, eh?” Or “how crazy are you!”. I suppose literally the idiom is saying: “What could I ever compare you to?”

    “Alright” functions both a greeting and inquiry as to your well-being. So either replying “hi there” or “say fine/well thanks” is acceptable– I tend to go for the latter just in case.

    Don’t say “I’m good though”, a pet hate of many– unless your greeter is asking about your moral fibre!

  2. pacificyorkshirebird May 24, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Hello All -

    Peaceful and Michelloui – Thanks for helping me interpret the phrase. Maybe my problem is that it makes me feel like child when someone says it to me.

    Iota – great question. I’m think I’m leaving home to go home. I suppose that might be tested in my first few months back.

    Christiana – keep us posted about your move back too. I’m worried about readjusting.

    Christina – I have never delivered a successful “your mom” joke in the UK. They do make me laugh though!

    Yankeebean – well, I broke the screen on my personal laptop. RIP lovely laptop. And my work computer (which it was always naughty and risking to use for blogging anyways) was nearly stolen when I turned my back on it. The receiving end of the lock was damaged. Then I had to reinstate the broadband at my future father-in-laws while he had his own computer fixed (but I swear I didn’t break that one!!)

  3. yankeebean May 21, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    I can’t believe it’s so soon!! Have a really safe trip, pacificyorkshirebird. You will be SORELY missed, but I’m sure we’ll see you on the blog again soon!

    (ps – what are you doing to these computers??) :)

  4. Christina May 21, 2009 at 11:07 am

    It must be in the air! I’ve been exposed to a barrage this week as well. It resulted in glee when, as a fan of “your mom” jokes my MIL’s “What are you like” stories have been about her son or her mother. Your (or you’re the) mom jokes are always funnier when used in context!

    I still haven’t gotten my head around “Alright”. I still reflex answer in complete sentences “I’m fine, thanks. How are you?” which tends to throw people!

  5. Christiana May 20, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    BAHAHAHA, I feel you. I always want to say “what are YOU like?” But that doesn’t go over well and I can see it not going over well in America either. I go back to the US June 1st and I’m already feeling really weird about it. Good luck with your journey back!

  6. Iota May 20, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    So are you leaving home or going home?

  7. Michelloui May 20, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Like peacefulyorkshire, this is what I always thought the expression was about. I think it’s kind of a fun/funny expression… but I can imagine too much of it is simply too much of a good thing!

    Good luck with the move PacificYorkshireBird! Most importantly, have fun!!!

  8. peacefulyorkshire May 20, 2009 at 8:41 am

    Hi Pacific bird it is so good to have you back on the scene!
    I think that when people say “what are you like?” I always thought it was after you do something funny and quirky. Like if you had toothpaste in your hair and someone noticed it, then someone would say “what are you like?” as if you are the most unique, crazy person in the world for walking out the door with toothpaste on your head. Brits– is this an apt interpretation?

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