Sunday, 9 January 2011
Private Eye Speak
The British satirical magazine Private Eye has a language all its own that it has been using for at least 30 years. Here is a crib:
fragrant hackette: female journalist, from the free “Fragrant Towelette” – a baby wipe saturated with eau de cologne in a sachet – that you used to be given on cheap flights. A hack is a journalist.
(Shurely shome mishtake. Ed.) The slurred speech is from the late William Deedes, editor of The Daily Telegraph. It’s supposed to be a comment the Editor has written on a proof.
Who he? What that? Who they? Harold Ross, founder of the New Yorker, used to write this on proofs. He wasn't surprisingly ignorant of modern life, he was pointing out that the writer had used a pronoun without an antecedent.
Private Eye inserts (Who he? Ed.) after the name of someone who thinks they ought to be well-known. And (What that? Ed.) after a ludicrous term for something risible.
Ugandan discussions: This allegedly derives from an incident at a party when a female guest came downstairs from tête a tête where “we’ve been discussing the situation in Uganda” with her dress on inside out.
The Grauniad: The Guardian newspaper, because it used to be full of misprints. There are various explanations, some involving the need to catch the last train from Manchester (where it was once produced).
tired and emotional: What politician George Brown allegedly was when pictured being held up by two mates.
Polly Filla: Any female journalist employed to fill a column with witterings about her personal life. Jilly Cooper and Katharine Whitehorn started the trend – but they were sharp, observant and funny. Are they in some way related? Can they possibly be related? (Caption under photographs of two unlikely celebrities.)
[sic] Latin, it means something like “just so”. Journalists add it after a verbatim quote that uses words incorrectly, to show that it’s the speaker’s mistake, not theirs. Private Eye adds it after something sickening, following Dorothy Parker, who wrote: “Sic. Sic as a dog.”