Looking Glass Language

a word bird reflects on life & language

Archive for the month “August, 2013”

Wordy Wednesday: iconic

Herbert Lom as the Chief Inspector

pic courtesy of http://www.tvweek.com

The overuse of ‘iconic’ has been niggling away at me for a while now, so much so that – much like Chief Inspector Dreyfus after an encounter with Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther – I’m starting to get a bit winky when I hear it. It’s so debased that I think we should ban its use for anything other than Russian religious artefacts for a period of, say, 50 years: that might give it sufficient time to regain its dignity and import.

To see what I mean, pick the odd one out in the following list:

  • The London Underground Map
  • The Spitfire
  • Concord
  • SpongeBob SquarePants
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Read more…

Elmore Leonard’s writing rules

Elmore Leonard

As you have probably heard, Elmore Leonard, the US crime writer known as the ‘Dickens of Detroit’, died earlier this week at the age of 87.

Leonard started his career writing ads for Chevrolets: on the side he was writing Westerns that he hoped to sell to Hollywood. In The Times this morning, Will Pavia reported Elmore saying that when the market for stories about Apaches and bounty hunters dried up, “I had to switch to crime,” and added that Elmore’s “dialogue was zippy and the characters leapt from the page, frequently into the grateful embrace of Hollywood producers.”

More than 40 of Leonard’s works have been made into tv shows or films, with his film credits including 3.10 to Yuma, Jackie Brown, Get Shorty and Hombre . (Hombre is a great excuse to show a picture of the gorgeous Paul Newman, who was, indeed, the man).

"My momma taught me to remove my hat and my cigar in the presence of a lady. Whatever else I take off depends on how lucky I get."

“My momma taught me to remove my hat and my cigar in the presence of a lady. Whatever else I take off depends on how lucky I get.” Hombre, starring Paul Newman & Diane Cintrillo 

Read more…

Wordy Wednesday: literally

‘You’re like, literally killing me bro…’

It used to be easy to patronise those who used literally like this (it’s even more tempting to do so when, as here, it’s used with the sloppy filler like). There’s even a great cartoon from the The Oatmeal that will heighten the sense of superiority felt by the more semantically precise:

2 Read more…

fingered speech: txtng as bilingualism

Screen shot 2013-08-19 at 21.14.39When Mencap, a charity for learning disabilities, sponsored a poll of 500 UK parents and teachers, two-in-three teachers reported that they regularly find text-speak in pupils’ homework, and over three-quarters of parents said they needed help de-coding the text-speak in their children’s texts and emails. 89% of those surveyed found that the growing prevalence of text-speak was creating a language barrier between adults and children. Read more…

La Petite Princesse

princeanouka cat










I’ve finally worked out who Noukie, my friend, and the child star of my previous post reminds me of: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s hero, The Little Prince. I have ‘7 Pieces of Wisdom from The Little Prince’, by GPS Guide, which I stumbled upon yesterday, to thank for this insight.


‘Le Petit Prince’ was first published in 1943, and has since become the most read and most translated book in the French canon. It has been translated into 250 languages and sold 80 million copies: as my much-thumbed copy is in France, I went for a wander in Sherborne this afternoon to make this 80,000,001. And at Winstone Books, a lovely little independent bookshop on Cheap Street, I found this particularly pretty pocket-sized edition, published by Collector’s Library.

Re-reading it this afternoon has confirmed my intuition: Noukie really does resemble the Prince, sharing his innocence, profundity and charm. “On ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux,” says the Prince (One can see only with the heart. The essential is invisible to the eye): a sentiment that could have come straight from Noukie’s lips. Read more…

Wah! It’s National Night!

I’ve always hated the slack-jawed look that the act of chewing gum gives people. Mastication ain’t pretty, and chewing gum while talking to someone isn’t just ugly, it’s rude. I also hate the spat-out chewing gum that darkens London’s pavements; as unwelcome in its way as the liver spots that are starting to appear on my own arms.

I was put in mind of all this over the weekend by a Singaporean friend who’d tacked extra days onto the holiday weekend for Singapore’s National Day (August 9th) in order to fly over for Cowes Week. While waiting for the wind to emerge one morning Miranda showed me a hilarious video produced for Mentos by BBH Asia Pacific this time last year. (Mentos must love the ban on chewing gum in Singapore, where the dirty little habit can result in a S$500 fine, and have built their brand presence there with ‘fresh ideas’ and by aligning themselves with the culture and concerns of Singapore.)

The Mentos promotion takes the form of a rap song that cheekily and humorously echoes the government’s concern over falling birth rates (Singapore’s birthrate is around 30,000 a year, and the city-state needs around 50,000 births to maintain its population and avoid the economic problems of an ageing citizenry) by encouraging married couples to get jiggy and conceive a brand new Singaporean in celebration of National DayRead more…

WANTED: single man with boat. Please send picture of boat.

single man with boatAs I’m sailing at Cowes this week, I was thinking of simply putting up this picture in lieu of a post… But then the lovely Charly, the youngest of our crew and the one at the pointy end (foredeck) responsible for hoisting, gybing and dropping the spinnaker, often while up to her calves in water, turned out to be rather marvelous at pub games. So, for your delectation and delight, here’s a video of her flipping a quite surprising number of beer mats… Read more…

Post Navigation


Something amiss? Listen to this...

The Seed Factory

Flexible workspace for small businesses to rent in Aller, Somerset


Fit For The Future


meraki: the soul, creativity or love placed in something, the essence of yourself in your work

Adventures of Hal

Fran, Gareth and friends explore the world on Hal, our 35ft yacht

Things I think about while I drive to work

Random topics and conversation about how I view the world I live in

Curiouser & Curiouser

My curious little blog.

Knowingly Undersold

Selling discount truths at an exorbitant price! (Wrap your mind around that one)

David Baker's Novel Factory

Novel = New, Work of Fiction: Fact + History = Factory

A Road Travelled Twice

Twice across Europe by bike and more

Mike and the Marathon

I’m running the 2013 London Marathon for ICAN

A Few Kind Words

adventures in language and life


a word bird reflects on life & language

Helen Weavers's Blog

Stuff I think about...