Tag Archives: language

Going, going, gone …

Helen Carey books has written about words being omitted from the dictionary, that I think will interest a lot of you. Re-blogged in case you missed it. Thanks Helen.otter


otterRegular followers of my blog will know that I am concerned about words fading out of the English language. So imagine my dismay when I read recently that the Oxford University Press has expunged several words from the Oxford Junior Dictionary. And no, the deleted words are not out of use or particularly outdated, they are just apparently not ‘relevant to a modern day childhood’. The missing words include acorn, adder, bluebell, dandelion, kingfisher, otter and even conker. And the words taking their place in the new edition include broadband, blog, bullet point and, wait for it, celebrity!

It worries me that so many of the excluded words refer to our countryside, our fauna and flora. Do we really want to educate the next generation to give priority to cut-and-paste, voicemail and chatroom, over pasture, cowslip and cygnet?

Of course it is not just the younger…

View original post 386 more words

Changes, do we really want them?

Worth a read________________________
Ben Stein

Apparently the White House referred to Christmas Trees as Holiday
Trees for the first time this year which pro mpted CBS presenter, Ben
Stein, to present this piece. I think it applies, just as much, to
many countries as it does to America .

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS
Sunday Morning Commentary.

My confession:

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it
does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful
lit up, bejewelled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I
don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are, Christmas

It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to me. I
don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a
ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers
and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me
at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection
near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it’s just as
fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think
Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think
people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around,
period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an
explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I
don’t like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that
we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God? I
guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of
us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the
America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is
a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny,
it’s intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane
Clayson asked her ‘How could God let something like this happen?’
(regarding Hurricane Katrina).. Anne Graham gave an extremely p
rofound and insightful response. She said, ‘I believe God is deeply
saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God
to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out
of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly
backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His
protection if we demand He leave us alone?’

In light of recent events… terrorists attack, school shootings, etc.
I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare complained she didn’t
want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you
better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not
kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we
said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they
misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we
might damage their self-esteem. We said an expert should know what
he’s talking about. And we said okay.

Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why
they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to
kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it
out. I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the
world is ‘going to hell’. Funny how we believe what the newspapers
say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send ‘jokes’
through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start
sending messages regarding God or Jesus, people think twice about

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many
on your address list because you’re not sure what they believe, or
what they will think of you for sending it.

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us
than what God thinks of us.

Pass it on if you think it has merit. If not, then just discard it….
no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process,
don’t sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,

Phenomenal two letter word:

I’m sure you will enjoy this. I don’t know another word in the English language that can be a noun, verb, adj, adv or prep.

This two-letter word in English has more meanings than any other two-letter word and that word is UP.’ It is listed in the dictionary as an [adv], [prep], [adj], [n] or [v].

It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election (if there is a tie, it is a toss UP) and why is it UP to the secretary to write UPa report? We call UP our friends, brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and fix UP the old car.
At other times, this little word has a special
meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite and think UP excuses.

To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.

And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is blocked UP.

We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night. We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look UP the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4 of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.

If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with (UP to) a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out, we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, the earth soaks UP the rain. When it does not rain for awhile, things dry UP. One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap UP now . . . My time is UP!

Oh . . . One more thing: What is the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night?

Did that one crack you UP?

Don’t screw UP.. Send this on to everyone you look UP in your address book . . . Or not . . . it’s UP to you.
Now I’ll shut UP!


Australian Computer Terminology: Getting ready for Broadband in the bush

As I have a very love/hate affair with my computer, I related to this e-mail, I hope you enjoy it too!  Broadband was a project started by our last government, to enable fast communication, it has since been cancelled for an inferior model that favours city people. I guess someone in the outback, tongue in cheek wrote the following:
LOGON: Adding wood to make the barbie hotter

LOG OFF: Not adding any more wood to the barbie.

MONITOR: Keeping an eye on the barbie.

DOWNLOAD: Getting the firewood off the ute.

HARD DRIVE: Making the trip back home without any cold tinnies.

KEYBOARD: Where you hang the ute keys.

WINDOWS: What you shut when the weather’s cold.

SCREEN: What you shut in the mozzie season..

BYTE: What mozzies do

MEGABYTE: What Townsville mozzies do.

CHIP: A pub snack.

MICROCHIP: What’s left in the bag after you’ve eaten the chips.

MODEM: What you did to the lawns.

LAPTOP: Where the cat sleeps.

SOFTWARE: Plastic knives and forks you get at Red Rooster.

HARDWARE: Stainless steel knives and forks – from K-Mart.

MOUSE: The small rodent that eats the grain in the shed.

MAINFRAME: What holds the shed up.

WEB: What spiders make.

WEBSITE: Usually in the shed or under the veranda.

SEARCH ENGINE: What you do when the ute won’t go.

CURSOR: What you say when the ute won’t go.

YAHOO: What you say when the ute does go.

UPGRADE: A steep hill.

SERVER: The person at the pub who brings out the counter lunch.

MAIL SERVER: The bloke at the pub who brings out the counter lunch.

USER: The neighbour who keeps borrowing things.

NETWORK: What you do when you need to repair the fishing net.

INTERNET: Where you want the fish to go.

NETSCAPE: What the fish do when they discover a hole in the net.

ONLINE: Where you hang the washing.

OFFLINE: Where the washing ends up when the pegs aren’t strong enough.

Regional language:

Having discussed Australian regional differences in language before, I thought this article from The Guardian, might interest some of you, to show just a few variations. I’ve heard of American regional differences, does it happen in other countries too? I’m sure you’ll all have experienced this somewhere. My first awareness of differences was cantaloupe that we eat in Tasmania is called rockmelon in many other States.


Heteronyms and Homographs for a bit of fun:

Homographs are words of like spelling but with more than one meaning. A homograph that is also pronounced differently is a heteronym.

You think English is easy??
I think a retired English teacher was bored… THIS IS GREAT!
Read all the way to the end…
This took a lot of work to put together!

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let’s face it – English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are animal organs. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?
How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

PS – Why doesn’t ‘Buick’ rhyme with ‘quick’?

You lovers of the English language might enjoy this.

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is ‘UP.’
It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?
At a meeting, why does a topic come UP?
Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report? We call UP our friends.
And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver; we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen.
We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.
At other times the little word has real special meaning.
People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.
To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.
A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.
We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.
We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!
To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary.
In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can have UP to about thirty definitions.
If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used.
It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.
When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP.
When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP.
When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP.
When it doesn’t rain for awhile, things dry UP.
One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it UP, for now my time is UP, so . . . it is time to for me to shut UP!


Language changes:

Verbal Ticks: Is there a word or a phrase you use (or over use) all the time and are seemingly unable to get rid of it? If not, what’s the one that drives you crazy when others use it? Ben Huberman

The second half of this question interests me, but I can’t be content with only the singular. Language is a changing thing, as we all know. It is the fashionable over use of some words/terms that particularly irritate.

Beginning with ‘Fantastic!’ or ‘Absolutely fantastic!’, or just ‘Absolutely!’. My beloved thinks this is waning, and he’s a media buff, so he usually has his finger on the pulse. Instead, people are replying to questions with ‘Look’.

There are the ‘going forward’, and ‘at this time’ phrases that are fill ins, allowing people time to think, perhaps? The one that really irritates is, ‘I. myself. personally’ with its many variations.

In Australia each State has its own language variations. For instance: in Queensland when I lived there in the 80s ‘but’ was common at the end of a sentence.

In Tasmania where I grew up, we would say: ‘at the weekend’.                                                     In Victoria and other States it is ‘on the weekend’.                                                            ‘Cantaloupe’ (the fruit) in Tasmania is called ‘Rock melon’ in NSW.                                                The list could go on. I wonder if in other countries you have different words, for the same thing, in different areas?

Do any of the ‘in’ words irritate any of you, as they do me? I’m sure you all have your own pet hates!





The King with no Clothes: Break the Silence

Break the Silence

When was the last time you really wanted (or needed) to say something but kept quiet? Write a post about what you should’ve said. Ben Huberman

Attending an art exhibition opened recently made me consider the fairy tale, ‘The King With No Clothes.’ Looking at the catalogue later I observed; the more verbose the artist’ statements, the weaker the work, and less able it was to speak for itself.

Language is constantly changing. Maybe it is me showing my age, the fact that I find it hard to accept, every one now has an ‘art practice.’ What happened to painters painting, sculptors sculpting etc.? People make art now or are busy in their art practice. I find this very pretentious.

Some phrases that took my fancy in the catalogue:                                                                       ‘I ‘aim to explore the conceptual and phenomenological scope of this relationship.’

‘I think that making art and looking at art are coterminous experiences.’

‘The documentation of my lived experience within an endemic spatio-temporal environment is the cornerstone of my practice.’

Of course there are those artists who express themselves in a sincere and understandable fashion.

I can’t help remembering two of Matisse’ many quotations:                                                        ‘You want to paint?                                                                                                                          First of all you must cut off your tongue because your decision to paint takes away from you the right to express yourself with anything but your brush.’

‘Whoever wishes to devote himself to painting should begin by cutting out his own tongue.’ Matisse.

It sounds as if he meant artists should destroy their pens too. I would have loved to express a few honest words on the night, but held my tongue.

Continue reading

When Insults had class:

These glorious insults are from an era before the English Language got boiled down to four-letter words.

The exchange between Churchill and Lady Astor:

Said she, ‘If you were my husband I’d give you poison,’ He said, ‘If you were my wife, I’d drink it.’

A Member of Parliament to Disraeli:

‘Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease.’ ‘That depends, Sir,’ said Disraeli, ‘whether I embrace your policies or your mistress.’

‘He had delusions of adequacy.’ Walter Kerr

‘He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.’ Winston Churchill

‘I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.’ Clarence Darrow

‘He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.’ William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

‘Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I’ll waste no time reading it.’ Moses Hadas

‘I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.’ Mark Twain

‘He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.’ Oscar Wilde

I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend…. If you have one.’ George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill                                                                          ‘Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second… If there is one.’ Winston Churchill, in response.

‘I feel so miserable without you; it’s almost like having you here.’  Stephen Bishop

‘He is a self-made man and worships his creator.’ John Bright

‘I’ve just learned of his illness. Let’s hope it’s nothing trivial.’  Irvin S. Cobb

‘He’s not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others.’  Samuel Johnson

‘He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.’  Paul Keating

‘In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily.’  Charles, Count Talleyrand

‘Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?’ Mark Twain

‘Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.  Oscar Wilde

‘He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts…..For support rather than illumination.’ Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

‘He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.’ Billy Wilder

‘I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.’  Groucho Marx

Here is a great list of quotes, but where are the women? So I shall end with a female quote:

‘A woman has to be twice as good as a man to go half as far.’  Fannie Hurst



Changing Language:

Recently I came across some Victorian sayings that seem to have left our current vocabulary. Some are sexist, and probably a good thing that they have moved into disuse. I found them interesting never the less. Please don’t be offended, some may be a bit rude! Have you heard any of them before? I had heard only one of them. For those of you writing historical novels, they might be useful in dialogue perhaps?

1. Bitch the pot (pour the tea) As in: “Hurry up and bitch the pot, would you? I’m spitting feathers here”

2. Tight as a boiled owl (drunk) As in: “Don’t remember a single thing about last night. Got absolutely boiled owled.”

3. Quail-pipe (woman’s tongue) As in: “Did we kiss? Yes. There was no quail-pipe though.”

4. Tallywags (testicles) As in: “Oof. Right in the tallywags.” Other Victorian terms for testicles included whirlygigs, trinkets, twidddle-diddles. (sounds as if it’s out of a nursery rhyme!)

5. Dirty puzzle (promiscuous woman) As in: “Sure. I dirty-puzzled around a bit at university, who didn’t?”

6. Cupid’s kettle drums (boobs) As in: “Would you mind terribly if I…had a go on your Cupid’s kettle drums?”

7. Neck oil (beer) As in: “Go on, it’s Friday night, get some neck oil down you.”

8. Dash my wig! (exclamation) As in: “Dash my wig, there’s never anything worth watching on Netflix.”

9. Tatur-trap (mouth) As in: “Your annoying me now. Shut your tatur-trap.” (Tatur being short for potato).

10. Tot-hunting (prowling for women) As in: “I’m married now. My tot-hunting days are over.

11. Bit o’ jam (pretty woman) As in: “People seem to think Kate Upton is a proper bit o’ Jam, but I don’t see it myself.” Other terms for the same thing included “jampot” and “basket of oranges.”

12. Cackle-tub (pulpit) As in: “That’s easy for you to say, vicar, up there in your cackle-tub.”

13.  Shoot into the brown (to fail) As in: “I thought victory was guaranteed, but I shot into the brown at the last moment.” The phrase is derived from shooting. Miss the black and white target and your shot would hit the muddy (ie brown) ground instead.

14. Inexpressibles (trousers) As in: “Put your inexpressibles on, it’s time to get up.”

15. Gas-pipes (tight trousers) As in: “No wonder your voice is so high-pitched, what with you wearing gas-pipes like those.”

16. Tickle one’s innards (to have a drink) As in: “Come on, stop moping. Let’s go out and tickle our innards.”

17. Gigglemug (smiling face) As in: “It’s always nice to come home to your gigglemug.”

18. Mutton shunter (policeman) As in: “Leg it, chaps, the mutton shunters are coming!”

19. Beer and skittles (good times) As in: “Sure, life is all beer and skittles when you’re in your twenties, but just you wait.”

20. Bags o’ mystery (sausages) As in: “PIck up a few of them bags o’mystery on your way home, will you?

21. Crinkum-crankum (vagina) As in: “Careful how you sit. You don’t want to expose your crinkum-crankum.”

Sources: Passing English of the Victorian era, a Dictionary of Heterodox English, Slang and Phrase, by J. Redding Ware; 1909, Routledge, London.