Friday 29 July 2011

More Euphemisms

high jinks, emotional immaturity

Lots more alcoholic euphemisms in my ebook:
Boo and Hooray: Dysphemisms and Euphemisms

Classthe hustle and bustle of the city = common people we are forced to share the space with (the opposite is “tranquillity” = an absence of chavs. What you move to the country to find.)

You’re overqualified.
= You’re too posh.
We think you’ll be bored. = We think you’ll look down on us.

MilitaryDraw down troops = withdraw troops, retreat

= hard sell to kids and teens// sexualisation of children = sexuality-based commercialisation of growing youth. @polleetickle
hard (a hard economic valuation) = pitiless (see “hard decisions”)
realistically priced = cheap
industrialised nations = rich nations
woes = economic woes

The Patriotic Association
= the Catholic Church in China
InterArt Resources
= producer of sculptures “by” Dali

"There's no question at times in my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate." Newt Gingrich in an interview, 2011 = I had an affair with a colleague 23 years younger than me.

= having two wives at one time, mistresses, lovers, boyfriends etc
high jinks
female companionship = sex
louche, womaniser = exploiter, molester
meaningful relationship = no ring, no legal protection
midlife crisis = I thought I could have a wife, kids and a girlfriend – I was wrong.
ultimatum = Marry me or I’ll leave you.

chaos = 48 hours of disruption New ash cloud chaos for Australia: Australia's two major airports face up to 48 hours of disruption as the ash cloud from a Chilean volcano hits again. bbc online It's a bit like when an airport gets snowed in and nothing moves, so they call it chaos. Actually, it's order, just not the order people want if they are trying to get home. And "nobody is keeping us informed" = no one is telling us what we want to hear (@hypercube)

cleanse, detox
= go on a crash diet
clear skin products = skin lightening products (do a Google search)
dashing, debonair = good-looking man
dream (wedding, home) = vulgar, ostentatious

emotional intelligence
= Machiavellian manipulation, or what the Victorians called “character”. “Emotional Intelligence is a useful resource that helps develop networks, figure out hierarchy, and influence others.” BPS Research Digest//The trick is to use your emotional intelligence to recognise how you are feeling and how it impacts your work persona. EI is the ability to “motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustrations, to control impulse and delay gratification, to regulate one’s moods and keep distress from swamping the ability to think, to empathise and to hope," as defined by Daniel Goleman, the author of EI, Why It Can Matter More than IQ.

hard landscaping = paving over
intelligent working = hot desking
intriguing, baffling, compelling, colourful = charlatan Carl Gustav Jung
work ethic = willingness to be exploited Migrant workers have a “work ethic”, ie they work long hours for less than the minimum wages, no insurance/pension/holidays/benefits.
outspoken = criticising the government
severe weather, hard winter = cold, rain, snow, frost, hail, sleet, blizzard, flood

So when it's government intervention conservatives hate, it's 'nanny state'. When it's dictating morality, 'decency'. Just so we know. @gaipajama
statement necklaces = big necklaces
vibrant (when used to mean lots of non-English people). Independent banned list
waspishly impatient, easily bored = bastard. Times obituary June 30, 2011

More here, and links to the rest.

Thursday 28 July 2011

Buzz words for 2011, Part One

The perfect anti-present

pitch perfect
for perfect (have they misheard picture perfect? And was it originally picture postcard perfect?)

bimble (verb of motion)
gamification (what you have to do to your web site)
maje (for major)
popular for all sorts of misfortune

Lots of things being “unearthed” from places without any topsoil, like libraries. 2011-01-12 Chandigarh: The I-T department has unearthed unaccounted money worth over Rs 7 crore from Punjab-based wholesale vegetable merchants, an official said on Wednesday. The money was unearthed by the authorities during a survey last week to check commodity hoarding in the wake of soaring onion prices… The I-T sleuths unearthed a whopping Rs 4.25 crore as undisclosed... (from the veg merchants’ bank accounts, presumably, not their flower beds) World News

That’s me done (“That’s me cancelled that.” RBS worker)
A Jack and Jill bathroom is a bathroom with two doors, accessible from two bedrooms
first mover advantage
lift taking over from raise? (Obama lifts then crushes peace hopes)
Footspa and digital photo frame now classic white elephant gift for the person you don’t like
mainstream (people who like The King’s Speech)

Mark Ragan complains about neologisms: convergence, holistic, time bond, socialize (socialize a concept – go out on the floor and talk to people about it), human business, touchpoints, awareness, bridging, lurkers, mashups, peer-to-peer, flash mob

smashed (potatoes, garlic cloves etc)
People accuse people who criticize them of being “cowardly” – Duncan Bannatyne calls tripadvisor despicable and cowardly (because it criticized his hotels, Guardian January 25, 2011)

(something you shouldn’t do)

Words that should be banned now: Provider, Progressive, Value, Choice, Big and Society. (Charles Holland)

please save for situations that are genuinely tragic, and don’t use when you mean but or however or unfortunately

(it only comes after “neither”, or after a negative statement. They didn’t go to school. Nor did they go to the playground. But you can’t say: They went to school. Nor did they go to the playground.)

atop – now that really is a ghastly Americanism
pat-down (airport search)
tip jar model – you have a web “tip jar” and people put in what they like for reading/downloading your stuff
tweetage notspot – no broadband
monsoon bucket (used by helicopter to drop water on fire)
time stamp
treading water
(what the stock/housing market is doing)
man up
barefoot luxury
(holiday in hut built over shallow sea etc)
Damn you, iced tea! (And variants.)
to creep out (vt) (That creeps me out!)

(remake unnecessarily and utterly ruin book/film/TV show; clad, restructure and utterly ruin building)

up continues (man up, style up – Jilly Cooper used to talk about people “ageing up” a house.)
oil shock week of March 7 2011
hipster has returned from a 50-year holiday
wear the armband (captain the team)
numpty (a few years)
heartbreaking (after the Japan earthquake)
scare quotes (Americanism?)
having a moment
that London
hunker down
– what did we say before we adopted this Americanism? Did it begin with H? Was it “hole up”? “Dig in”? (People saying “bunker down” instead in June 2011.)

hopey, changey, bibley ect When needing to write, switching all your internet-y connective-y programmes on at once is not going to help. (Douglas Murphy)
rib-eye steak
(What is it? Where did that come from?)
fawn (v) week of April 29

wrong’un, good’un, bad’un seem to have returned from wherever they’ve been hiding since 1890.
slider (kind of a breakfast scone with a filling of your choice)
nerf gun: some kind of water pistol or potato gun, me lud
off grid – Americanism? Our cities don’t have grids.

so long as for as long as – Americanism?
drubbing popular week of AV vote
roulotte (like an old gypsy caravan/posh person’s park home or chalet)
undertake (overtake on the inside)

Web 2.0, bubble 2.0, coalition 2.0
(years and YEARS after software issues started this kind of numbering system)

bad decisions (drink, drugs, sleeping around)
by contrast strangely popular week of May 18, 2011 (lingering on in July. If you’re contrasting two things, readers can usually work that out.)

starting sentences with But
fawning is back – it’s Prince Philip’s birthday
all-too popular week of June 13
redacted now means censored (removed from text)

cotton on to seems to be popular again (in 70s it seemed like self-conscious 50s posh slang). Or "cotton to" as Americans say (they seem to think it’s Southern hick speak).

very – the very day of the wedding.
Oddly, nobody’s been “fawning” on Will and Kate during their trip to Canada.
deep dive (into Web story etc)
early doors
tectonic has taken over from seismic

popular, but used to mean “nasty” or “unacceptable” or "adamant" – or something

to that end
seems to have gone out (thank heavens)
brutal, arrogant as all-purpose boo words
forever (forever friends, we wanted this to be our forever home)
pop-up (shop etc.) End-July backlash and pleas for people to drop it.

Buzz Words of 2011 here and here.
Complete Buzz Words of 2010 here.
Buzz Words of 2009 here.
Buzz Words of 2008 and beyond here.

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Howlers Latest

aesthetic for ascetic He is an aesthetic. He withdraws from the world. Manil Suri, author of Lord Shiva, Guardian Mar 3 08 (aesthetics is the science of beauty; an ascetic is self-denying)

alumni for luminaries Rare, candid photos of Ballard and other SF alumni (Brunner, Aldiss, Wyndham) from Vogue, 1962: @ballardian (alumni are pupils; luminaries are "leading lights")

anxiogenic for anxiolytic = wiki on Leonora Carrington (anxiogenic drugs would have made her /more/ anxious)

au natural for au naturel

benefactor for beneficiary, recipient Apparently he used to pay his escalating grocery tab in paintings. One day the benefactor of these priceless works argued with her family and set fire to the lot. Sophie Morris FT Sept 24 2010 (straight meaning swap like famous/infamous, ancestor/descendant)

bi-election for by-election

camoflague for camouflage

chic lit for chick lit

for snobbery? Hierarchical class structure? It is 40 years since I first struggled into the wing-collar of Captain James Bellamy of 165 Eaton Place. I didn’t like him at first; I’d seen too much of his sort at Harrow. I wasn’t that keen on the show, either – it seemed to be cherishing a colonialism we had all managed to shed in the haze of the Sixties. Simon Williams on Upstairs Downstairs.

constant widening of the moral compass (letter to Times, Mar 2011) A compass is a thing that points north, and a moral compass would show you the way to go. He means something like “blurring boundaries”, or “widening of the moral grey areas”. Does he think a moral compass looks like the thing you find in a geometry set?

Customers love our bras – even those who have had a vasectomy. PR blurb quoted in Times 25 June 2011-06-25

deep-seeded for deep-seated  

dire straights for dire straits  

duffer for buffer “that tremendous old duffer Arthur Negus” Sarah Vine T March 16, 2011 (a duffer is an idiot, an old buffer is an old chap)

eastuary for estuary: the south east where vile and cheap eastury English predominates Bbc message board (We speak Estuary English here in the Thames Estuary.)

exacerbated for exasperated: made worse/annoyed – the same thing happened with “aggravated”

exhume for exude: Located in France this lovingly renovated 300-year-old home exhumes character and quirkyness. exude = give out; exhume = unbury

exposay for exposé

flush for redolent: a celebration “flush with nationalism” Guardian February 4, 2011 “Flush with” means level with; if you're "flush with cash" you've got lots of it.

golabole for gullible (Daily Mail commenter – like it)

hallow for fallow: Ryugyong Hotel is a 105-story skyscraper in downtown Pyongyang, North Korea renowned for once being dubbed the “World’s Worst Building” after having remained hallow for over 20 years. (Think they mean “lain fallow”, like an unploughed field.)

hub for jumping-off point A spokesman for holiday firm Natural Retreats said: “People tend to come and visit but there’s nothing to keep them there, even though the area has everything from wildlife to history and is a potential hub from which to go north and visit the islands.”

incentiary, reeking havoc, hare’s breath escape, plaintiff melody, viscous/vicious, causal/casual, clamoured to her feet, a shutter went through her body, his body went ridged, empirical storm troopers, ex-patriot Englishmen, et cetera. Teresa Nielsen Hayden via rgadsen@cix (that’s incendiary, wreaking havoc, hair’s breadth escape, plaintive melody, clambered, shudder, rigid, imperial storm troopers, expatriate Englishmen)

incipient for rife:
incipient means potential, or about to happen; something that’s rife is everywhere

increasingly ubiquitous: ubiquitous means “everywhere” – another “rather unique”

incredible for incredulous: Another straight swap. Something incredible is unbelievable; I am incredulous – I don’t believe it.

infamous for famous: Farls are also very popular fried in bacon fat and served as part of the infamous Irish breakfast. (Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me!)

jolie-laird for jolie laide (pretty/ugly A laird is a Scottish lord.) Murray has a touch of the jolie-laird about her, here's she's more laird. (imdb)

languish for wander, meander or ramble: It is just one part of the pretty Lee Valley Park, which languishes for a full 26 miles along the banks of the River. If you languish you droop wearily, wait resignedly (he languished in prison for years), or pine away.

Last night I dreamed I went to Manderlay again… (the Cornish house was Manderley, the place the British soldier wanted to return to was Mandalay)

law for lore weird law Guardian April 28 2007 (statute/folk wisdom)

lesser-spotted for rarely seen (retiring Kate Middleton is the lesser spotted Kate, ditto Gordon Brown). There are two types of spotted woodpecker, the greater and the lesser. They both have spots - it’s got nothing to do with rarity.

low and behold for lo and behold

mange e toi for ménage a trois (three-way marriage)

Mid-Evil for Medieval (from the Middle Ages)

nearly penultimate (Another "rather unique".)

nmeonics for mnemonics (nice try)

object lesson for deterrent example (Why is there no easy way of saying this?)

panoply for pantheon: the addition of raisins, spices, jam and later syrup lifted the dumpling into the panoply of puddings. (A pantheon is where all the gods live – bit like a hall of fame.)

Ponzi scheme for pyramid scheme (In a Ponzi scheme you get everybody to invest in a scheme, then pay them "dividends" from the money you get out of new investors.)

prickly question for thorny (questions are thorny, awkward people are prickly, like a hedgehog or porcupine)

quixotic for ???? Judge Pickles called the Lord Chancellor a “brooding Quixotic dictator” - what did he think it meant?

reiterate means repeat, not stress

sacarter for cicada (Web)

seeped in for steeped in

shirk from for shrink from (shirkers avoid work)

shrink for fall Troop levels will shrink by 6%. BBC News channel (a level can only rise or fall)

social morays for social mores (but that's how you pronounce it)

Stongehenge for Stonehenge

strident for ????? views of what the island would look like if crisscrossed not by its grid, but by Paris’s medieval streets and strident boulevards. (Perhaps a strident boulevard is one you stride along.)

tithe cottage for tied cottage Guardian mag Sat 18 June 2011 (a tied cottage comes with the job; a tithe is a tenth of your income that you give to the church)

toothsome for tooth-shaped You can see the Matterhorn, or Monte Cervino as they call it on the Italian side, in all its toothsome, Toblerone-shaped glory Rhiannon Batten Indy on Sunday May 22 2011 Toothsome means tasty – she means toothlike or tooth-shaped.

unequivocably for unequivocally (confusion with irrevocably)

winnow for burrow (winnowing his way into her life), winnowing for eroding (or filleting) When you winnow grain, you throw it into the air so that the wind can blow the chaff away.

More here, here, here, here and here.

Friday 15 July 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful... ish

The British Museum’s original purpose was to provide for “the scientific study of manners and customs of particular peoples and to show their development from savagery toward civilisation.” We like to think we’re near the “civilisation” end. How are we doing?

1650 Cromwell prescribes the death penalty for adultery (repealed under Charles II).

1685 Last witch legally executed in the UK. The last witch convicted was Jane Wenham in 1712. A suspected witch was lynched in 1705 in Scotland.

1801 George III gave up British monarchs’ claim to be King of France.

1840s-50s Slavery abolished in Moldavia (now Moldova, with former territories now in Romania, Ukraine). Most of the slaves were Roma or Tartar.

1870 The punishment of hanging, drawing and quartering for treason abolished (in the face of strong resistance).

1875 Sending boys up chimneys to sweep them made illegal (after strong resistance from some).

1967 Inter-racial marriage becomes legal in the US.

1970s “Crime passionel” no longer a defence for murder in France.
2009 “Provocation” no longer a defence for murder in the UK (abolished by the Coroners and Justice Act).

1971 The FA allows women to play on the pitches of affiliated clubs.
1971 Women given the vote in federal elections in Switzerland. One canton held out until 1990 for local elections.

1973 Homosexuality ceased to be classified as a mental disorder with the 1973 revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). A compromise diagnosis termed ego-dystonic homosexuality persisted despite heavy criticism until finally being removed in a 1987 version of the DSM.

1981 Last forcible sterilisation in the US. Many US states proposed and enacted sterilisation laws from the late 19th century. “The Oregon Board of Eugenics, later renamed the Board of Social Protection, existed until 1983, with the last forcible sterilization occurring in 1981.” Wikipedia

1987 Diane Abbott becomes UK’s first black MP. 1st non-white MP in UK parliament was Dadabhai Naoroji in 1892. Abbot was the 4th non-white MP & 1st black MP of either sex.

1990s Tall girls are no longer treated with sex hormones (a practice that began in the 50s). (Social Science & Medicine, September 2010: The medicalisation of "tall" girls: A discourse analysis of medical literature on the use of synthetic oestrogen to reduce female height Jo-Anne Rayner, Priscilla Pyett and Jill Astbury (In China many have their legs lengthened in agonising surgical procedures. Many jobs have height requirements. Guardian 15 Dec 2003)

1998 Death penalty for treason abolished.

1999 The “right” of a defendant in a rape case to cross-examine the victim is removed. (Michael Howard started the process in 1996.)

2002 Ugandan-born Bishop Sentamu becomes the first black bishop in the UK to take charge of an Anglican diocese.

2003 14 US States legalise homosexuality. (Legal in Italy since 1870, England 1967, Scotland 1980, N Ireland 1982, Isle of Man 1992, Tasmania 1997. (Dan Snow)

2008 Anyone forcing someone else into a marriage can be jailed for up to two years.

2010 The President of Brazil puts forward a bill to make smacking children illegal.


The old days have a habit of lingering on. Michael Wood, London Review of Books, 18 March 2004


Smacking, bullying and boarding schools are still legal in the UK.

More here and here.

Reasons to Be Cheerful II

The public consciousness of the evil of child abuse is one of the best things that has happened in my lifetime. AN Wilson

Refers to the UK unless otherwise stated.

1836 civil marriages allowed

2004 Civil Partnership Act gives same sex partners most of the same rights as married couples

1907 The Court of Criminal Appeal set up following the adverse publicity from George Edjali's wrongful conviction

1970s CoE/Catholic church involves the laity, lets women read, installs coffee shops, gift shops, toilets (not without extreme resistance from deans, chapters straight out of Anthony Trollope).

1979 Sweden bans smacking.

Age of consent
1861 set at 12
1875 raised to 13
1885 raised to 16 “The anomaly that a girl could marry at 12 but not consent to sexual intercourse outside marriage until 16 remained in place until the Marriage Act of 1929.”

2003 The Female Genital Mutilation Act outlaws the practice, and extends to UK citizens taking their children abroad for the operation.

More Reasons to Be Cheerful here.

Saturday 2 July 2011

Americanisms III

More panic about picking up Americanisms. The shame! More painful than root canal! (I don't think.)

Aaarrrgh! It's not "cement"! It's concrete! This is a British newspaper and, so far as I know, we have not yet been officially subsumed into the USA so please use the correct English terms. Thank you. Guardian comment

Must we copy everything the Americans do? I regret to report that today I heard somebody from Manchester use the word “can” for “toilet”. It’s almost as painful as going round saying “Wassup”. Carol Midgley Times July 2, 2011

More at Americanisms and Americanisms II.

Friday 1 July 2011

Tautology II

Some words and phrases are in themselves unnecessarily superfluous and redundantly otiose:

anywhere (the biggest population of Koreans anywhere in Europe”
by contrast
first created, first began
for example
for the first time ever
in total
in turn
may well
real (there’s a real risk of humanitarian disaster)
right up to the present day
very (the very thing that…, the very man who…)
whatsoever (bear no relation whatsoever)
yet (it isn’t ready yet)

Ivana Lowell ruins Oscar Wilde's definition of fox-hunting: “The unspeakable in full pursuit of the unspeakable.” And you cut to the chase (in an old silent movie), you don't cut straight to the chase. The graffiti read MY KARMA HAS RUN OVER MY DOGMA, not Help! My karma has just run over my dogma!

People can usually work out for themselves whether numbers are big or small:

a good 22 years ago
a massive 60%
a total of three
as many as 1 million
as much as 99mm
for two full months
fully half
in all, eight carriages were set on fire
just 2.5, just ten minutes from the city centre
no fewer than 100

Ditch repetitive phrases like transformational change/new innovation/worldwide global firm, says @goodcopybadcopy

And don't add an adjective or adverb that adds nothing:

sworn enemy, implacable foe (Amanda Foreman's A World on Fire: An Epic History of Two Nations Divided)
awarded the prestigious prize
he arrogantly refused to relinquish power (It would have been so much nicer if he'd done it humbly.)
Despite persistent denials to the contrary
(This is why grammar catastrophisers say “Don’t use adverbs or adjectives!”)

13 different sizes (if two of them were the same as each other, you’d only have 12 sizes etc etc)
a deadly battle in which 1,000 were killed
added bonus
Argentina calls UK “a crude colonial power” for hanging on to the Falklands. (We like to think we’re a refined colonial power.)
at a decisive crossroads
back in the 80s (we can work out that the 80s aren’t in the future)
bitter/brutal/bloody conflicts – give the detail
continue on
continued all along
could eventually end up
devastating floods that left 1,000 acres of farmland unusable (If you’re going to detail the devastation, no need to say “devastating”. Always better to give detail.)
down to the sea below
equally as
excise out
fictitious story
forward planning
from this moment on
fully insulated
hailed as a significant milestone
hang down
hollow charade
horrible tragedy Tony Blair on the Middle East “the horrible tragedy is that innocents die”
it was an act of gratuitous violence that was totally unnecessary (Vicar on Crimewatch Roadshow June 30, 2011) We’re seeing more objects taken from religious churches. (Art squad spokesman, ditto)
parachuting down
phenomenal tragedy (of sex abuse in the Catholic church, Catholic commentator on the weekend of the Pope’s visit)
pithy bon mot
return back
reverse back
revert back
sink down
synchronise together
terrible havoc
dysfunctional disaster: the country “seemed like a dysfunctional disaster about to collapse”
the lamentable weakness of the (criminal justice system)
the reason why
their first collaboration together
throughout the whole day
tricky dilemma
two separate groups
upward ascent
appalling poisoned chalice We mustn’t leave behind for our children “an appalling poisoned chalice”. Prince Charles Times Sep 12 10
while also

More here.