I'm not bothered.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by elroy, Mar 25, 2008.

  1. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic
    I learned this expression today after two of my English colleagues used it. (The first time I misunderstood it. The second time I asked.)

    For those who are unfamiliar with it, it means "It doesn't matter to me," or "I don't care."


    -Would you like to take the train or the bus?
    -I'm not bothered.

    As a speaker of American English, I had never come across this expression and am fairly certain it is not used this way in the United States (but I'm always prepared to be surprised. ;)). I'm just curious to know in which parts of the English-speaking world it's used. So far I know that it is used in England (probably all over, as one of my colleagues is from the North and the other is from the South). What about Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, etc.?
  2. Lilmisseh Member

    England, English
    Hmmm interesting, I presumed everyone knew it as a colloquial English phrase. But then again I'm from England and it's widely accepted/used here. Suprising to me that the Americans don't get it
  3. cropje_jnr

    cropje_jnr Senior Member

    Canberra, Australia
    English - Australia
    Surprising to me, too, as an Australian. I mean, it sounds distinctly British, but it is easily comprehensible to someone who has grown up here. Perhaps our exposure to British English is slightly greater than the average American's? :D
  4. אדם Senior Member

    English - USA
    I'm American and when I read the title I understood what it meant. I don't think it's used that often here (or at least I haven't heard it too much), but I can assure you that a lot of people would know what it means.
  5. Paulfromitaly

    Paulfromitaly MODerator

    Brescia (Italy)
    I can tell you it's used in Scotland too.
    Elroy, are you telling me that AE speakers might have misunderstood me when I've used that expression?? :eek:
    How would AE speakers interpret it if they weren't familiar with it?
  6. katie_here Senior Member

    Not only do you get people saying "I'm not bothered" you get local dialects too. My family in Leeds all say "I aren't bothered".
  7. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    Ditto for Canada. "I'm not bothered" would not sound at all out of place here although "It doesn't bother me" would likely be more common.
  8. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    It would be equally surprising to me, if it were true. It isn't. No American has said they don't get it.
  9. Lilmisseh Member

    England, English
    Talking of dialect versions, we sometimes say up here 'I ain't bothered'...
    Just to confuse matters ;)
  10. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic
    Thanks to all for your responses. :)

    Just to clarify, my question wasn't about where the expression would be understood, but where it is routinely used by the native speakers of the area.
  11. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    In AE we have another phrase, "No bother" and it could be a cause for confusion I guess.

    I never heard "not bothered" before this thread.
  12. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    I've heard Americans say, I'm not bothered by noun/gerund/noun phrase,
    but I'm not bothered, by itself, sounds distinctly BE to my ears. I don't believe
    I've heard an American use the expression, but of course it is easily understood
    by most AE speakers.
  13. cropje_jnr

    cropje_jnr Senior Member

    Canberra, Australia
    English - Australia
    Ditto for Australians, as noted above (perhaps a little less clearly than was intended).

    We ought not (another Britishism that I tend to use, unlike most of my compatriots) get into synonyms, but we do often say: I'm easy, I'm not fussed, it doesn't worry me, I don't mind either way, all of which are more common among Australians than comparable expressions involving "bother".
  14. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English
    I would understand the expression to mean "I am not irritated." I suppose I would understand it in context, but I would not have assumed it meant exactly the same thing as "I have no preference." Like other speakers of AE, I never heard this before now, and never knew before this thread that this was a common phrase in BE.
  15. katie_here Senior Member

    Believe me, its been overused of late. There is a character in a comedy sketch whose catchphrase is " Am I bovvered?" (bothered) She also says "does this face look bovvered". The times I've heard that off people, I've felt like saying, you're face will look "bovvered" if I slap it for you.
  16. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I'm not bothered.
    Used as indicated, and fairly common in BE.

    I ain't bovvered.
    Derived from the above, but used in a somewhat different context and by those who routinely use ain't and pronounce bother as bovver. Somewhat more dismissive than the above.

    Am I bovvered?

    A scornful variant of the above, carrying the same general meaning as I couldn't care less (or I could care less if you are that way inclined) but a great deal more vehemence, or defiance, if not aggression.
    The most (in)famous instance of its use was on Comic Relief, 2007, by Tony Blair :)
  17. gaer

    gaer Senior Member

    Fort Lauderdale
    (Oops. Don't tell anyone. I didn't get it immediately either. I've never heard this phrase used in this manner. But I live in South Florida.) ;)

  18. Cathy Rose Senior Member

    Northeast USA
    United States English
    I never heard it, and had to read it twice before I understood the meaning. In AE, the reply would probably be, "It doesn't matter to me" or "I don't care."
  19. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I hope this isn't off topic, but in general usage among those who would have said "I'm not bothered" the current response is more likely to be "whatever".

    Just like "I'm not bothered", "Whatever" could be regarded as a dismissive "Do what you like and never mind me - I know you think my opinion is irrelevant," or as a generous "I really don't mind at all, you choose because I know this is really important to you."

    A huge amount of the meaning relies on the existing relationship between the speaker and the listener, and the body language and intonation of the speaker.

    Edit: Sorry if this is completely unsatisfactory as an explanation of words and their meanings, but communication involves a great deal more than words.
  20. KHS

    KHS Senior Member

    I had heard "I'm not bothered (implying by something ... eg, the noise)." But, like several other speakers of AE, had not heard it used to mean "Either way is fine with me."
  21. AngelEyes

    AngelEyes Senior Member

    English - United States
    I have never heard this phrase used to denote that it wouldn't matter to me...at least not like this. Not to answer such a question as this. It sounds odd to my ears.

    It is used in my experience to denote apathy, which is maybe somewhat the goal of the speaker here. But not in response to this particular question.

    The way I would use a form of bother would be to tell someone: "I can't be bothered getting upset over something as trivial as that."

    Also, someone suggested "No bother." I've heard this and used this, too, but I still wouldn't use it in answer to your specific example question, elroy.

    I would have said: "It's fine by me."

    My point is that it's not so much an unusual reply as the context in which it was used. I'd never use it like this.

    Interesting. :)

  22. canadiansrock Senior Member

    Canada, English
    dont hear it too often, but, as said above, woudlnt be out of place =)
  23. Mez3000 Member

    Australia - English
    I'll use some of these but I would say I do use the expression 'I'm not bothered' more than any of these.

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