do people actually say "ta"?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Roi Marphille, Aug 15, 2005.

  1. Roi Marphille

    Roi Marphille Senior Member

    Catalonia, Catalan.
    been told that you can say "ta" refering "thanks".
    I think is something very British. For me it sounds kinda of childfish, but I'm not sure and I don't really dare to say it fearing someone may laugh on me..

    My questions are:
    Do (young) people actually say that?
    If so, do they say it only in UK or in USA too?

    ta in advance! ;)
  2. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I've seen it used by Australians.
  3. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    A very familiar memory, but I haven't noticed ta recently. It is not in the current vocabulary of WMPG (world's most perfect granddaughter), who is now 5. It is VERY often used, first as ta-ta, by adults when speaking to children. WMPG has never been patronised to that extent - by her family. But for many kids here ta-ta (then ta) is part of their language development along with ma-ma, da-da, and other simple repetitive combinations. Typically, they grow out of it by the time they are 2:D

    But sadly, some adults grow back into it again when talking to young children. It comes into the same category as wuff-wuff for a dog, and puff-puff for train - I mean, really, what can puff-puff have to do with trains except in the distant memory of those now aged 60+:eek:

    For those of us keen to introduce the likes of WPMG to the excitement of polysyllabic speech, ta just doesn't feature.
  4. daviesri Senior Member

    Houston, TX
    USA English
    I have heard of people using "ta" to say good-bye (shortened version of ta-ta). I have never heard it as "thanks". If I remember properly it was a UK thing.
  5. jess oh seven

    jess oh seven Senior Member

    UK/US, English
    it's not all that common (maybe more common in certain areas than others), but it's definitely a British thing and not an American one.

    you can say "ta much", as well... for "thank you very much"... normally you'd only say it to your friends if you were joking around a bit....
  6. Aupick

    Aupick Senior Member

    Strasbourg, France
    UK, English
    OK, I confess, I use 'ta' for thanks from time to time. I try not to say it when I'm in the US, although it occasionally slips out. In the UK I use it for a small thanks, if someone passes me the salt, for instance, or if they do an additional favour and I've already said thanks a moment before. I tend to use 'cheers' (for thanks) more frequently, though, although this is one I definitely try to avoid stateside. I've received some strange looks in the past because of it. :eek:
  7. Mr X Member

    Australia, English
    People here use it fairly often, at least often enough that no one would think you're weird for using it.

    I agree with Aupick about when it's used most. It's generally when you want to say thanks for smaller things.

    Mr X.
  8. Gordonedi

    Gordonedi Senior Member

    UK (Scotland) English
    In Northern England, it is quite common for people of all ages to use "ta" as a contraction of "thanks", usually in the phrase "ta very much". There was widespread similar usage in the London area, but is heard less now.

    The use of "ta" in British television scripts tends to indicate Northern English, uneducated, dialect, so I would not recommend its adoption by a non-native speaker.

  9. axolotl66

    axolotl66 Member

    Worcester, England
    United Kingdom, British English
    I don't know if I would agree with Gordonedi with respect to the use of "ta" as marker for Northern Dialect, although I would agree that non-native speakers should be very careful about its use. It is a very informal way of saying "thank you" and would best be used accordingly.

    I use "ta" in the same way as Aupick, down here in Worcestershire, England. I have never heard it singly to indicate "goodbye".

  10. Berlingot New Member

    France, French, English, German
    Yes, I can confirm that the Brits do say "ta" for "thank you". I have heard it many times in the UK. I would have thought that was more of a Northern England expression but southeners also use it. Just quicker than saying "thank you".
  11. Amityville

    Amityville Senior Member

    English UK
    Fairly common I think. But goodbye is ta-ta (babyish) or ta-ra (up north).
  12. garryknight Senior Member

    Kent, UK
    UK, English
    "Ta" for "thank you" is very common in London, especially in the East and South-East.
  13. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Ah, you are about to tell us the defining point is the Browne's at 23 Wootton Street - anywhere to the right and down a bit from there uses "ta" for thank-you:)

    "Ta-ra chuck," has, sadly, worked its way into common BE understanding as meaning "goodbye", or so they tell me.
  14. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    I use it all the time, for a small expression of thanks eg if someone passes you something. It would sound too flippant in response to being given a present, for example.
  15. phibroptix New Member

    Hi Roi!here in the Philippines, we usually say "TY" short for "thank you".
    e.g. Ty in advance or ty much for 'thank you much'.....=)
    But it's nice to hear that there are other words to say 'thank you' like 'ta'. Probably, I will use this with my common friends...
  16. evalangui Member

    Spanish (Argentina)
    But is it actually pronounced "ta"? as in, say... "tank top"? and not like the first syllable of "thanks"?
  17. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    It's pronounced like "car" (with no r at the end) or "spa".

    Or, more precisely, "tar"...
  18. evalangui Member

    Spanish (Argentina)
    oh, ok then. Ta! :p
  19. empee New Member

    Hungary, Hungarian
    I should have thought that the use of the word was more common in the North of England (I heard it used around Manchaster) but now I have learnt that this is not the case. Thank you for pointing this out.

    I would also like to know more about the etimology of ta, meaning 'thank you'. I once heard that it comes from some Scandinavian language (Perhaps a Viking remnant? Which, by the way, would have given support to my 'North-of-England theory'). The online The English-to-American Dictionary also suggests the possibility of Scandinavian origin.
  20. london calling Senior Member

    Yes, as a south-east Londoner I confirm!
  21. cycloneviv

    cycloneviv Senior Member

    Perth, Western Australia
    English - Australia
    True. I use it frequently.
  22. gasman Senior Member

    Canada, English
    I must admit to "ta muchly" in an attempt to offer informal thanks!
  23. Broccolicious Senior Member

    Glorious Devonshire
    English - England
    I use it for 'thank you' but not 'good bye'. Having said that, I have a friend who ends emails, 'Ta, Dan'.
  24. london calling Senior Member

    Ay? You sure it's not tara? ;):D

  25. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Neither the OED nor etymology online give any source for ta - other than as a natural infantile form of gratitude, or of thank you.
  26. Broccolicious Senior Member

    Glorious Devonshire
    English - England
    I could check...

    And I can just imagine anyone in EastEnders saying 'ta-ta, love' (but with the second 't' softened to almost a 'd'). That may or may not be scientific evidence to support the East London theory!
  27. london calling Senior Member

    Yes, quite probably!

    Thank you:

    Danish = tak
    Norwegian = takk
    Swedish = tack

  28. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    English English
    I use it all the time, ceaselessly, everywhere. Mind you, if I was receiving a Nobel Prize, I wouldn't start my speech with Ta, lads.
    (I also use the double goodbye version all the time, ceaselessly, everywhere: tada or tara [t'ra for short].)
    Neither sounds in the least bit childish to me:mad:
  29. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    (Sorry, this is a bit late!)

    I think that's all rather fanciful, and the answer is more simple. It's an infantile form of thank you, as babies and children have, or are considered to have, more difficulty with "th". Actually, I think it's more of an adult's idea of baby talk, as, in the context of children, I have heard more adults saying it to babies, than babies saying it themselves. "Say, ta!" and an exaggerated "Taa!" when giving to or receiving things from babies are often heard (attempts, I presume, to teach the baby the word, and some manners).

    Interestingly there is a quotation from 1807 from the OED:
    "How her ten weeks old baby will laugh and say taa!" I had no idea it has been going on for that long.

    As silly as it sounds when you discuss it, "ta" is spoken by adults in all parts of England (I'm less sure about other parts of the UK) with great frequency and without a single thought that it might be ridiculous.

    EDIT: Ewie, I agree. I use "ta" all the time, as I said "without a single thought that it might be ridiculous". However, it does strike me as childish when I think about it more objectively (in discussions like this for example).
  30. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    English / England
    Here in Stoke on Trent I hear "ta" for thanks quite often and have a few pals who alway say "ta-ra" for goodbye .. usually "ta-ra duck" in fact.

    Duck another local dialect thing that we love round here ... but would find very odd from the mouth of a non-native speaker ... my Polish pal, whose English is impeccable, never dabbles in the dialect side of life!
  31. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    English / England
    and ps it isn't childish when adults do it, anymore than it is when we use any other word we've taught to a kid!
  32. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    Even daan saaf it's quite normal for adults to say "ta".
  33. nzfauna

    nzfauna Senior Member

    Wellington, New Zealand
    New Zealand, English
    In NZ, it is also common.
  34. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    In Canada, the only time that we hear it said is when we're watching "Coronation Street".:D
  35. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    I've heard it used by Australians!
  36. Gwan Senior Member

    Indre et Loire, France
    New Zealand, English
    I second that. Again, for small things. 'Cheers' is also very popular, or if you want to sound really NZ (and why wouldn't you) try 'cheer bro'. ;)
  37. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    English English
    In Manchester it's very often pronounced with a short a as in cat, or that vowel prolonged, so /tæ/ or /tæ:/. Which (it seems to me) is only one letter short of Danish tak etc.
  38. ivyraphael New Member

    Sydney, Australia
    English - Australian
    'Ta' is very commonly used in Australia as an expression of thanks for small things, 'ta-ta' is less commonly used to say goodbye.
  39. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, ta is British, Oz and Kiwi. My language is British influenced, so I might say ta or ta much or ta muchly (if I'm trying to be funny), usually to family. If someone holds open the lift or the door for me, then cheers is more likely. For the farewell greeting, it will have to be tara.
  40. nzfauna

    nzfauna Senior Member

    Wellington, New Zealand
    New Zealand, English
    Ta is very common in NZE.
  41. shokan Member

    English - US/Canada
    In 1975, it was very common in London. I'm now in Canada and do not hear it used in current British TV shows such as Time team. I hear "cheers" used now in place of "ta". That is, a small thanks. I've never heard "ta" used in the US or Canada.

    By the way, a currently popular term in England seems to be "brilliant" for "fantastic" or "great". I did not hear "brilliant" used this way in 1975 when I was in London. I am starting a new thread for "brilliant" under English Only.
  42. emma42 Senior Member

    North East USA
    British English
    Plenty of "ta"s in Nottingham too. When I won the Nobel Prize, I did actually say, "Ta, lads".
  43. shokan Member

    English - US/Canada
    So, more properly, it wouldn't have been just a small thanks, rather more like a sincere/friendly/chummy expression of thanks.
  44. london calling Senior Member

    I wouldn't say "brilliant" was current, I've been using it for years to mean "fantastico!" (and I'm a Londoner). I think I'll come and see what you all say in the English Only forum...;)

    I agree, "cheers" or "cheers, mate!" is very common now in the UK, but I still prefer "ta", although I admit I use it jokingly!
  45. emma42 Senior Member

    North East USA
    British English
    It could be either.
  46. Waylink Senior Member

    English (British)
    In my experience in the English Midlands and elsewhere, "ta" is often used to say "Thanks" typically when all of the following conditions are met:

    -- only in British English and AU/NZ etc (not in American English)
    -- only in informal settings (or informal asides in more formal settings);
    -- only for friendly/chummy or sometimes casual communications;
    -- only for small things/courtesies;
    -- only in speaking - very rarely in writing (other than in a written dialogue);

    I have never hear of "ta" being used as a short form of "ta-ta" which is often used in similar conditions to mean "Goodbye". Perhaps the speaker said "ta-ta" or "ta-ra" but the listener only heard the initial (stressed) "ta".

    A common variation of "ta-ra" in some parts of the English Midlands is "ta-ra a bit" but that is a quite local dialectal usage, I think.

    Incidentally, some will remember that it was customary in the old days of teletypewriter communications (electro-mechanical terminal connected to a (usually) remote computer) to end the message with:

    TTFN (abbreviation for "ta-ta for now").

    This was used in quite formal situations such as a machine response saying that it could not process the submitted instruction as in:

    Syntax error at line 40.
    Compilation terminated.
  47. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    I think "ta" is much more likely to be casual ("small") thanks. I can't imagine saying this, say, upon receiving a present. However, you can make it "big" by using it enthusiastically and musically. E.g. "Oooh! Taa!" However, I think this sounds rather quaint or child-like.
  48. katie_here Senior Member

    I agree with Timpeac and say I use it all the time for a quick thankyou. If someone passes you something, or holds a door open.

    As mentioned before "ta-ta" is how little kids say goodbye, but "ta-ra" is still commonly used by people in my locality. We pronounce it t'ra, a very short ta and longer ra.
  49. GirlFromTheNorthCountry New Member

    I used to be under the impression that it was mainly used in the northern England but then I was in a pub in Bristol and heard a barman saying 'ta' to me when I gave the money. Then again, he may not have been from the area. I wouldn't be the best person to tell that, but I guess people here have already confirmed its use in other parts of England.
  50. kalamazoo Senior Member

    US, English
    In AE, I have never heard "ta" or "cheers" for thanks, unless perhaps from some visiting Brit. I don't think people use either of these expressions at all. We do say "ta-ta" for good-bye sometimes though, although it's not that frequent.

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