Looking Glass Language

a word bird reflects on life & language

Archive for the category “Words”

Wordy Wednesday: Fluffy la Voie

My porn star name, based on the name of my first pet and my mother’s maiden name, is Gussy Baker. This has a nicely 20s sound to it, but I must admit that my one-time boyfriend’s porn star name was even better: Fluffy La Voie. It’s so good that it makes me want to set up a porno company, despite disapproving of the industry (in broad terms).

photoI’m in the south of France with my English boyfriend Nick, my Brazilian friend Paulo, his French boyfriend Didier, and our Dutch friend Yvonne. We sat around the fire pit outside, eating samosas I’d made earlier, and drinking rose, and then retired inside to a supper of red cabbage and walnut salad, with duck breasts cooked on the fire pit by Nick (who was careful not to let the sparks carry far as, unlike Dorset, it’s hardly rained here for the last 6 months). Read more…

Wordy Wednesday: gratitude

Feeling grateful

Feeling grateful

Happy New Year, everybody! I thought I’d give gratitude the starring role in this Wordy Wednesday, as I’m feeling incredibly grateful for all sorts of things at the moment. My lovely friend Erin sent me this picture she took of me last night as we watched London’s spectacular firework display from a friend’s boat on the Thames, and it captures how happy I was to be in that place, at that moment ,with such a special bunch of people – something I’m incredibly grateful for… I’ve also just spent Christmas surrounded by my family and other loved ones, and I’m incredibly grateful for that too, and for having them in my life.

I’ve always believed that an attitude of gratitude is one of the keys to a happy life, and it’s now been scientifically proven to have a positive effect on one’s levels of happiness. I’ve used it myself: a few years ago, if my step daughter was feeling grumpy, I’d challenge her to a rapid-fire, one minute gratitude list-making exercise: the idea being to shout out as many things as we were grateful for as we could. (Specificity is key to this, by the way, so not just ‘friends’ but ‘Jane and Edgar and Fred and Ruth’, and not just ‘my pets’ but their names, and it’s also good to include all the different aspects of yourself you’re grateful for, such as intelligence, hearing, sight, touch, taste etc, plus tthe things you love to do, and the places you love to visit.) We always ran on for far longer than 60 seconds, and she was always much happier afterwards.

Read more…

#shelfie, #26xmas

Twitter #shelfie

#shelfie, a glorious, literary take on #selfie (this year’s word of the year, according to the Oxford Dictionary), has been trending on Twitter for the past couple of weeks.

It’s the kind of trend I’d normally be right on top of (see Wordy Wednesday: Selfie), and the fact that I’ve been reluctant to add my bookshelf pic to the mix doesn’t reflect the busyness of the season, instead demonstrating that ego plays as much part in a #shelfie as it does in a #selfie (in fact, since I’m no longer a teenager, possibly more…). Ok, I admit it: I want a #shelfie that suggests erudition and hidden depths of character – who wouldn’t? Read more…

My favourite jumper

I just wanted to re-post this lovely drawing, and Faye Sharpe’s brilliant, heartwarming poetic response to it. You can find these on 26 Stories of Xmas, where they’re helping raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust and Scottish cancer charity, itsgood2give. (Read more about all this on yesterday’s post, Wordy Wednesday: sestude.)My favourite jumper

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My Favourite Christmas Jumper

by Faye Sharpe

 

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September

Comes. Granny

Picks a pattern. October

Comes. Granny decides the yarn.

November comes. Granny’s nerves crackle. By

Christmas Eve she’s in a panic. But on Christmas Day

She beams. I tear open her present. All reds, blues, greens.

And I wear my favourite Christmas jumper, though its sleeves reach

my knees,

Because

I love my Granny.

xx

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… 

Read more…

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:

Read more…

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: Selfie

Aki Hoshide selfie in space

Best Selfie ever? International Space Station astronaut Akihiko Hoshide capturing Earth in his visor, whilst in space. It’s awesome.

Come on, ‘fess up: you’ve done it haven’t you? You’ve snapped shots of yourself and posted them on social media (if you’re over 18, you’ve probably tried to frame them to look like they were taken by someone else).

I, for instance, couldn’t resist taking one after my friend Didier let me try on the fabulous wig he wears when doing drag (see below). Damn, I love that wig!

Selfie in a wig

Reasons to take selfies:

  • You think you’re looking hot
  • You’re somewhere amazing
  • You’re doing something amazing
  • You’re with someone famous (selfies with Pope Francis are proving very popular)
  • You’re with your mates and you want to show everyone else how much fun you’re having
  • You’re 14 and your day wouldn’t be complete without at least one selfie posted on Instagram

Selfies have become ubiquitous, even in the most inappropriate circumstances: there’s even a Tumblr site called Selfies at Funerals.

Actress, tap dancer and comedian Charlene deGuzman stars in I forgot my phone: a smart and depressing short film about the overuse of smartphones (including a scene on selfies)…

http://gawker.com/short-film-about-smartphone-overuse-is-smart-poignant-1189811144

The first recorded use of the word was in 2002 on an Australian online forum:

“Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer [sic] and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”

Selfie appeared on Flickr as a hashtag as early as 2004. And now everyone from Pope Francis to astronauts is doing it, and the noun Selfie has been declared the word of the year by the Oxford Dictionary.

Don’t know your duck face from your belfie? Check out this article in The Guardian, which gives the do’s and don’ts (A belfie is a bum selfie: don’t do it. Don’t even think about doing it.)

Wordy Wednesday: paean

glass animalsMy choice of ‘paean’ is purely because I went to a great gig last night, the first in a long, long time, and in my old stomping ground of Shoreditch, no less. And as I loved the band I wanted to offer a paean (viz. sing a song of praise) to the talented foursome, whose members include a neuroscientist and two classical musicians at the top of their game. The gig was at Concrete, and I was there with my friend Janie, supporting her nephew Joe, drummer with Glass Animals. The band is the first signing for Wolf Tone, the new label by super-producer Paul Epworth (he of Adele fame). Epworth himself, who was supposed to be in LA on the night, was there, grooving along to his new signing’s performance. As was I…
Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 18.59.36You can make your own mind up by listening to their enthralling, intelligent and inventive tracks on Soundcloud, here. Their extraordinary musicality reminds me of early Muse, though you’re more likely to find them being compared with Radiohead.

Read all about them in Paul Lester’s Guardian article, Glass Animals (New band of the day No 1,635) (theguardian.com)

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…

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