Thursday 19 January 2012

Jobs You Didn't Know Existed Part 6

Mostly genuine. Usual disclaimers (legal, moral, safety...) apply.

covert human intelligence source
(computer hacker – see the Leveson Inquiry)

antique shopping tour guide


art selector for interiors

bassoon player (or whatever there’s a shortage of)

boat valet

dreamer-up of names for bands (and paint colours)

email answerer

errand runner

forensic taxonomist

forger of modern art

freelance pavement cleaner

lipsil tester

Mandarin-speaking salesperson at Harrods or Selfridges

manufacturer of fake Ugg boots, GHD hair straighteners etc

oven deep cleaner

paint fantasy land/cityscapes for computer games

patisserie chef

player of musical glasses (glass harmonica)

priest, vicar
(there’s a shortage)

professional lobbyist

professional queuer

rent out your garden

revenge taker

rhino poacher
run alligator-hugging business

sell private jets

student lookalike: go to parties, get drunk and have one-night stands while your employer studies the subject and gets a first

Social Media Expert
(advise businesses, implement socmed strategy)

stunt writer:
Mark Twain employed ”a sort of stunt-writer to prospect for diamonds in South Africa and gather material that Twain could use”. Hilary Mantel, Guardian March 2010

temporary house-sitter to take in packages, wait for gas man etc.

totem pole carver

More here and here. And here. And here.

Sunday 15 January 2012

Bombay Ducks

A Welsh Rabbit is not a “rare bit”, it’s a Bombay Duck. And a Bombay Duck is a fish.

Bohemian diamond: rock crystal
Bombay Duck: fish (Harpodon nehereus), fish of the family Harpodontidae, found in estuaries of northern India, where it is widely used as a food fish and, when dried, as a condiment. (Enc Brit)
Bronx cheer: raspberry, boo
capote Anglaise (English overcoat): condom
Carthaginian peace: devastate land and kill everybody
Chinese boxes: nesting boxes
Chinese burn: armtwisting
Chinese copy: an exact imitation or duplicate that includes defects as well as desired qualities (M-W)
Chinese national anthem: explosion
Chinese puzzle: fiendish metal puzzle
Dutch comfort: Thank God it is no worse. (Francis Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue 1811)
Dutch concert: Where every one plays or sings a different tune. (Grose)
Dutch courage: false courage given by alcohol
Dutch oven: casserole dish
Dutch treat: everybody pays for himself and no one is treated
Egyptian PT: sleeping
English bath: apply deodorant (Australia)
fichi d’India: prickly pears
filer a l’Anglaise: leave without saying goodbye
French bath: no bath (Australia)
French beads: faux jewellery
French chalk: steatite
French Leave: leave without permission
French letter: condom
French toast: bread dipped in egg and fried
French window: glass door
German silver: alloy of copper, zinc and nickel
Glasgow kiss: nut on the nose
Greek fire: napalm
Guinea pig: South American rodent
Hamburg Steak: not a steak but a rissole
Hobson’s choice: no choice
Indian gift: one taken back
Indian giver: one who gives and then takes back (But it’s the wrong way round: the Native Americans were “given” Manhattan and many other territories. See “White man speak with forked tongue.”)
Indian summer: fine days in autumn
Irish banjo: shovel
Irish confetti: shower of stones
Irish kiss: slap in the face
Irish pennant: stray bit of thread dangling from home made jersey
Irish stew: bones plus carrots, onions, pearl barley
Job’s comforter (Bible): annoying type who reminds you others are worse off
old Chinese proverb: new, made-up proverb with spurious air of antiquity
Parisian diamonds: fused oxide of tin
poor man’s goose: veal
poor man’s lobster: haddock
prairie oyster: raw egg
Pyrrhic victory: “If this is victory, give me defeat.” M-W: A Pyrrhic victory is so called after the Greek king Pyrrhus, who, after suffering heavy losses in defeating the Romans in 279 B.C., said to those sent to congratulate him, "Another such victory over the Romans and we are undone."
Roman pearls: composed of an alabaster core bathed in various different iridescent substances (isinglass, lustrous oyster scales, mother of pearl powder)
Russian roulette: five blanks, one bullet, six men
Scotch mist: fine rain
Scotch woodcock: Welsh rabbit with anchovies
Shanks’s pony: on foot
Spanish practices/customs: old well-established dodgy dealings
Welsh Rabbit: cheese on toast

Archaic Pairs

Waxing and waning

Why are factions always “warring”, asks David Aaronovitch? And why don’t we use the archaic word “warring” in any other context? There are more of these pairs:

accomplished liar (skilled)
allay fears (soothe)
amicable divorce (friendly)
arrant nonsense (utter)
assailed by doubt (attacked)
bore the brunt (bore the what?)
bounden duty (duty)
capacious handbag
dabble in black magic
dulcet tones (sweet)
dwindling stocks
eagerly anticipated
empty ritual, Victorian monstrosity (obs)
figment of the imagination (product)
fleet footed/fleet of foot (fast)
grist to the mill
hideous reprisals
hotly contested
indissolubly linked (indivisibly)
inexorable rise
inspissated gloom (saturated)
irredeemably naff
labour under the delusion
lull into a sense of false security (hypnotise)
militate against (work)
pent up emotions/fears (bottled)
permeated with melancholy (saturated)
ply a trade (carry on)
redoubtable old lady (terrifying old bat)
salve your conscience (soothe)
serried ranks Merriam-Webster: "crowded or pressed together”
stanch the bleeding (stop)
stem the flow/tide (stop, hold back)
straitened circumstances (reduced)
strident feminist (Will this one be revived as feminists come out from where they’ve been hiding since the 80s?)
staunch Protestant, fervent/devout Catholic, militant atheist
tenuous connection (fragile, slight)
trained opera singer
unmitigated disaster (total, complete, utter)
wanton destruction (irresponsible)
warring factions
wax lyrical (become poetic) The only other thing that waxes is the moon; then it wanes.
woe betide (ill befall)
wreak havoc (cause)
wrest control (seize, grab, twist)

Saturday 14 January 2012

Archaic Words II

When people write obituaries, or letters to The Times, they come over all archaic. When did you last fight in a joust or meet a thrall?





boon companion:
drinking buddy

burgeoning: it means “flowering”, not “expanding”

for reform: call
come to heel


for: because
garlanded for awarded honours
girding: preparing (It's short for "gird up your loins", from the Bible.)

(v): plays host to
ill-gotten gains: illegal profits

imbibe: drink

in thrall to
: enslaved by
joust: duel (a few centuries nearer our own time)
in case
lot: fate, situation ( bewailing her lot)

oft: often

pay heed:
pay attention
the curiosity: arouse
plaudits: applause
plight: condition

pocket handkerchief sized
: When did you last hear someone say "pocket handkerchief" – or see anyone using a handkerchief?

rollicking, rambunctious, rumbustious, ruckus, romp
: Why use these antique pseudo-rural words, and why do they all begin with R?

save the day
(jousting? medieval war?)
scion: offspring

smacks of: sounds like 

take X to task

very: the same, the actual, actually etc
well-nigh: nearly

More here.

Saturday 7 January 2012

Art Shows in Europe

Kunsthaus Zurich
10 February-29 April
Winter Tales: Winter in Art from the Renaissance to Impressionism Winter landscapes in art, on tapestries and plates as well as canvas. Armies stranded in snow, cosy interiors, skating jollity – from Monet’s Magpie to an empress's sleigh.

Kunstpalast, Dusseldorf
28 April-12 August
El Greco and Modernism The influence of the Greek-Spanish mannerist on early avant-garde artists like Cezanne, van Gogh, Picasso, Delaunay, Macke, Kokoschka and Beckman.

Tate Britain 15 Feb-15 July
Picasso and Modern British Art Will include Weeping Woman 1937 and The Three Dancers 1925, plus work by British artists Picasso influenced: Duncan Grant, Wyndham Lewis, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Graham Sutherland and David Hockney. Will it show how Picasso’s limp, mawkish Blue Period had far too much influence on the twee, whimsical creations of artists of the 40s and 50s like Michael Ayrton? (Though he could draw better than Picasso.)

British Museum
020 7323 8181
26 January–13 April
Hajj: Journey to the heart of Islam The history and origins of the Hajj: the pilgrimage to Mecca which is central to the Muslim faith.

Shakespeare: Staging the World
19 July–25 November
Shakespeare's England through objects, digital media and performance.

Chinese ink painting and calligraphy
3 May–2 September
Traditional-style paintings from the 20th century. 40 works including landscapes, moonscapes in paper montage, visions of nature and statements of friendship or political dissent in calligraphy and caricature.

Warriors of the Plains: 200 years of Native North American Honour and Ritual
To 5 April.
The culture of Native North American Indians of the Plains between 1800 and now, putting feather headdresses, moccasins, pipes and tomahawks into context. Although these objects are familiar from popular culture, this show uncovers their deeper social and ritual significance. Tours to Exeter and Manchester in the autumn.

Thursday 5 January 2012

Excuse the Pun - Again!

Lightning conductor

Amateur writers love inserting "excuse the pun!" – especially after non-puns.

Paronomasia: use of words, usually humorous, based on (a) the several meanings of one word, (b) a similarity of meaning between words that are pronounced the same, or (c) the difference in meanings between two words pronounced the same and spelled somewhat similarly, e.g., Thomas Hood's “They went and told the sexton and the sexton tolled the bell.” Puns have also been used seriously, as in the Bible, Mat. 16.18: “Thou art Peter [Gr. Petros], and upon this rock [Gr. petra] I will build my church.” wikipedia

At least cracker puns are the real thing:
Why did the bullrush? Because he saw the cowslip.
Why did the lobster blush? Because it saw the Queen Mary’s bottom/the salad dressing.
What did Father Christmas say to his wife when he looked out of the window? Looks like reindeer.
Why does lightning shock people? It just doesn't know how to conduct itself.

But these aren't:

Here are the links I dug up (if you'll pardon the pun). FT message board from Dark Detective (talking about locating graves). That’s a too-appropriate metaphor.

I was going to call the essay Less than a Plum of an OZ Book, but dislike using puns. Letter to Fortean Times Aug 03 (Not a pun, unless it's a book about fruit.)

A lot of them run around like headless chickens (excuse the pun). (It's a simile, no need to apologise.)

After the eclipse everyone was on cloud nine (excuse the pun). Suddenly everyone was best friends and no one could shut up. It was good to see such an electric atmosphere (excuse the pun). I am not a very experienced photographer and was stressing all the way home on the coach that the photos wouldn’t turn out. I was over the moon (excuse the pun) to see that they did turn out.

Do they, if you’ll overlook the beastly pun, give a monkey’s about a spot of engraving and some fancy ribbon? Guardian July 14, 2006 on Victoria Cross for animals

Our wholesale tea selection keeps growing (excuse the pun).

We were hard pressed (excuse the pun) to find hot cider.... The sun was dancing on the wheat fields. It sounds corny (excuse the pun again) but it really does take one's breath away.

It contains that heartbreaking pun, "my father's house was razed/in 1948" - Guardian blog January 2008 (what on earth...? Oh I see, raised as in built. Creaky, heavy-handed, leaden pun.)

So while few of us give a thought to what will happen to our bodies after we die, some people are starting – if you’ll pardon the pun – to think outside the box. New Scientists Aug 2011 (Tenuously appropriate metaphor.)

Food for thought (excuse the pun!) Blog entry follows about animal welfare – should the writer become vegetarian?

More here.

Hyperbole, Overstatement, Catastrophising 2

Attacking French values

My mum used to tell my friends off if they claimed they were "starving" as her mum would not allow any exaggeration in speech. Lucewoman on The Age of Uncertainty (given as example of being middle class)
It seems that if people don’t get married, plague, famine and disaster will result. You can read the reasons for getting married here (they are sensible things like guardianship of children, inheritance and pension rights).

Births outside marriage hit highest level for two centuries Daily Mail headline April 2011
Physical intimacy outside of marriage undermines self-esteem.
Marriage is the bedrock of society. Gay marriage will undermine true marriage, and erode society.
Pope says gay marriages “penalise” straight marriages Jan 2011
When we lose sight of the spiritual aspect of married life, or holy matrimony as it once was called, we are diminished as human beings. Guardian comment November 9, 2010

And there are all kinds of reasons why women shouldn’t wear burqas:
Covering the face is an attack on civilized norms.
"The niqab and the burqa represent a refusal to exist as a person in the eyes of others," says French parliamentary leader Jean-Francois Cope.
Journalist Christopher Hitchens calls them "the most aggressive sign of a refusal to integrate or accommodate." Chicago Tribune
French President Nicolas Sarkozy says the full veil is an "attack on French values". He also says the burka reduces women to servitude and undermined their dignity. June 22 2009
Mathieu Bock-Coté says it represents a “gross statement of denial of membership in Western society”.
Well, which is it?

These PC pests are destroying our society!

Cardinal Murphy O’Connor says atheism is “the greatest evil” at his successor’s installation, May 09.

Readers complained that a newspaper was too opinionated because it used the word “proliferate” in a headline.

But actually it’s Twitter that’s going to destroy us all:
Twitter: where those who don't conform to the wisdom of the crowd find themselves subject to increasingly frenzied attacks. Sarah Vine, Times January 19, 2011

But do these 18-year-olds, reared in the blogger-Twitter-Facebook culture, really know what the concept of privacy means? Members of their generation have grown up sharing every thought and detail of their lives with strangers. Many may now be incapable of drawing lines between private and public. Neil Steinberg in the Chicago Sun Times

It’s not just the young, said Kathleen Parker in The Washington Post. US society as a whole has witnessed a cultural breakdown in decency and a blurring of those boundaries. [We must] stop the insanity of narcissism and exhibitionism that inculcates the broader notion that nothing is off-limits.

More, much more, to come. And more here.