Looking Glass Language

a word bird reflects on life & language

Archive for the category “Language”

Wordy Wednesday: sestude

Rebecca Dowman's sestude: The Snowman ShowWhile this week’s word, sestude, may not be one to set a Scrabble enthusiast’s pulse racing (unlike muzjiks, for instance, the highest scoring game opener), it’s still a word that aspires to big things..

If you’re wondering how ‘sestude’ passed you by (and/or getting frustrated by my failure to supply a definition), I’ll put you out of your misery. Although, technically, sestude is in the Collins Online Dictionary, it’s in there only as a new word suggestion… 

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Wordy Wednesday: dichotomy

Platos Dichotomy (sic)

I decided to dedicate this Wordy Wednesday to ‘dichotomy’ after stumbling across Platos Dichotomy (sic), a blog which purports to be devoted to language and its origins, which, with its glaring lack of an apostrophe in the title, made my inner Grammar Nazi snap to attention. While we’re all capable of making language mistakes (I usually discover mine just after hitting Publish), the omission of the apostrophe in a standing title can only be the result of a woeful lack of basic grammar or an approach to editing that’s so slack it’s inexcusable in a language-related blog.

So, back to dichotomy… According to the Oxford Dictionary, a dichotomy is:

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Wordy Wednesday: vinegar stroke

vinegar stroke: the face you make as you're comingI’m a woman of the world.

I’ve been around a bit, read a lot of books and have a particular interest in language (after all, it’s the premise behind this blog, particularly my Wordy Wednesday posts)Yet this was the first I’d heard of the term ‘vinegar stroke’. 

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An enlightening and entertaining half hour on Google followed, which told me all I needed to know and more about the vinegar stroke. If, like me, you hadn’t come across the term before (for those already in the know, sorry about the pun…), here’s a definition for you.
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The vinegar stroke is a colloquial term for the final thrust in a sexual act, the one which takes you over the edge into orgasm.  Still not with me? Imagine the face you’d pull if you were chugging vinegar. Uh huh, that’s right: THAT face…
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Once I’d understood the phrase, I realised that my friend Erin’s (LA writer, Erin Donovan) use of vinegar stroke to describe the final push towards finishing a screenplay was a stroke of genius (again, pun absolutely intended).
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Erin seemed to think it was an Englishism, but that may be because she first heard it years ago, from her English husband, Chris Long (who these days is Producer of The Mentalist). But if it’s English English, rather than American English, surely I’d have heard it before? And as it’s such an evocative phrase, shouldn’t it have made an appearance in laddish TV programmes such as Men Behaving Badly and Fantasy Football League? If it has, there’s scant evidence of this online.
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Actress Katie Aselton, from hit US TV series, The LeagueA bit of digging uncovered a reference to vinegar strokes in the cult  laddish US fantasy football series, The League. The gorgeous Katie Aselton, left, who plays Jenny in The League, gave a hilarious explanation of this and other terms used in The League, when she appeared on a talk show with fellow guest Mike Tyson. 

Other sexual terms from the show include:

  1. Eskimo brother: when guys have had sex with the same girl, they’re Eskimo brothers.
  2. Teasing stallion: a non-threatening male who you allow to innocently flirt with your girl in the knowledge that this will merely get her worked up for you.
  3. Second virginity: the faux ‘virginal’ state experienced in the immediate aftermath of a break-up, when you haven’t had more than a single sexual partner for a prolonged period.
  4. Vaginal hubris. (My favourite kind…) Talking about this, Katie says, “my character is someone with a lot of confidence in their hoo-ha.”  But when does a lot of confidence become excessive?
    I don’t know that I’ve ever thought in terms of my vagina as having moods, but I’m going to be keeping an eye on things, and if I spot it being aloof, timid or cantankerous, I’ll let you know.

Wordy Wednesday: acronym

Royal spotting at the Badminton Horse Trials

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I discovered a few years ago that acronyms weren’t quite what I’d thought they were… This brings a blush to my cheeks not only because I am now a copywriter, but also because at 14, while working at the Badminton Horse Trials (indulging in a spot of Royal watching while sporting a fetching turquoise t-shirt bearing the legend ‘NatWest is Best’), I’d laughed condescendingly on noticing ‘AIB Bank’ emblazoned on a fellow worker’s t-shirt, and – in the patronising way of a teenage know-it-all – explained to him that the acronym meant Allied Irish Bank Bank – I have a horrid feeling that I might even have attempted this in an Irish accent. Of course, as I later discovered, it wasn’t an acronym at all, it was an initialism. Oh the shame…  Read more…

Patti Smith mourns Lou Reed

Lou Reed by Tom BatchellReading Patti Smith’s poetic eulogy on Lou Reed in The New Yorker this week has made me want to revisit not just Lou’s work, but also Patti’s own. So, with the weather here in Dorset wet and windy, it seems like the perfect day to put my headphones on and take a walk on music’s wild side.

Below is a transcript of Patti’s poetic article (or you can simply read it in context). And, for the joy of it, I’ve included links to performances by both Lou Reed and Patti Smith.

Read more…

Wordy Wednesday: “if they use these words, don’t buy their shares”

DictionariesAt school, maths geeks and word nerds are often to be found in opposing camps. However, financial analysts like Terry Smith, founder of Fundsmith.co.uk and chief executive of broker Tullett Prebon, and my partner, a technical analyst in a London/New York-based stockbroking firm, have a foot in both, and can recognise woolly words in copy as easily as they can spot a double top, a double bottom, a head and shoulders, a bullish engulfing pattern or a Prussian helmet* in a graph.

(*I’m assured that these are all legitimate financial patterns, rather than sexual peccadillos.) 

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‘Penis dunking’ – a fab bit of over-sharing on Mumsnet

Mumsnet penis beaker

If you thought Mumsnet was all about sharing tips on breastfeeding tips and baby-friendly boltholes (like the fabulous Villa Jalon, near Valencia, run by Sarah & Johnny Robinson), the content of the current twitter and media storm might surprise you…

The Mumsnet penis-dunking post – yes, you read that right – even made it onto Woman’s Hour on Radio 4 earlier… The original poster has kept her composure remarkably well, seemingly convinced that any moment now someone else is going to ‘fess up to having a dedicated post-coital clean-up section too...

Comments like this – “Even if you have an acid fanjo and his sperm is nine tenths itching powder, surely you can use the bathroom at the same time? You can wash your fanjo in the bath and he can scrub his cock in the sink,” – had me crying with laughter. If you haven’t yet done so, it’s definitely worth following the link and reading the entire thread.

http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/mumsnet_classics/a1875847-Do-you-dunk-your-penis

Wordy Wednesday: neologism

Every day I'm capuling

Today’s Wordy Wednesday was inspired by Turkish protest graffiti – ‘Everyday I’m çapuling’ – and by the viral video it gave rise to.
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Before I explain the provenance of çapuling though, it’s probably a good idea to remind ourselves of the kind of neologisms we hear and see every day, such as these from the techie world:
  • google (as a verb)
  • troll
  • spam
  • crowdsource (book lovers out there should check out crowd sourcing book publisher, unbound)
  • geotagging – something my friend Dingo does all the time, posting pics of himself on the plane, up a Swiss mountain, in the US, on Lake Geneva, at the Hamble… Frankly, it’s exhausting.
The Washington Post runs a great competition in which it invites readers to create neologisms, usually by changing just one letter of a word. Below you’ll find some wonderfully funny and insightful neologisms coined over the past decade by its readers:

Jimmy Fallon mondegreen

Courtesy of the Tonight Show

Courtesy of Late Night Live

I like Jimmy Fallon, I really do, and I think Late Night Live has flashes of brilliance, but as far as mondegreens go, he ain’t no Peter Kay…

Jimmy references some really funny mondegreens, such as the lyrics of Elton John’s Tiny Dancer misheard as “Hold me close and tie me down, sir,” and Michael Jackson’s Wanna be startin’ something misheard as “I’m ashamed of the side of my moccasins; I’m ashamed of the side of my moccasins,” (try singing it). But at times it was hard to know which song he was referring to, even though he had the benefit of a twitter storm to pull his mondegreens from and a criminally under-used house band in the studio (what were they there for, if not to help us work out which song the misheard lyrics came from?). One fail, for me at least, was “Hit me with your pet shark,” – does anyone know what song that’s supposed to be from? Anyone?

Read more…

Brid: I know how this looks, but it wasn’t me…

Brid
Do you ever feel guilty about things that aren’t your fault? I do, and when I saw this photo on Grammarly’s Facebook page yesterday I had a flutter of panic: what did I misspell?

(It’s the stuff of nightmares: a post on Grammarly about a misspelling by the word bird…)

I imagine that the artist himself wasn’t an English-speaker (he probably saw ‘Brid’ not as a word, but as a shape). But that doesn’t explain why the US wholesaler, the warehouse assistants who unpacked the boxes, and the shop assistants who placed the items on the shelves failed to pick up on it.

Read more…

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