Looking Glass Language

a word bird reflects on life & language

Archive for the category “Wordy Wednesday”

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)…


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: acronym

Royal spotting at the Badminton Horse Trials









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…

Wordy Wednesday: solutions (vs. Eddie Stobart)

"Thank you, goodnight and may your God go with you."

“Thank you, goodnight and may your God go with you.”

Some people, like Billy Connolly and Dave Allen, are great storytellers, able to keep you enthralled and entertained through the most unlikely of shaggy dog stories.

Others could be giving you the solutions to the Kennedy assassination and the death of Princess Di and all you’d hear would be ‘Blah, blah, Kennedy, blah de blah, blah Princess Di blah blah…’

The words we choose can either draw people in or make them tune out. And some words, or combinations of words, are like black holes, reflecting nothing at all back at the reader or listener. ‘Solutions’ has become one of these.

Wordy Wednesday: naming



What have cute little meerkats and a portly and rather annoying Welsh opera singer got to do with naming choices?

They’ve become stars because Compare the Market and Go Compare chose generic names, making it difficult for the public to distinguish one from the other, or from the dozen or so other price comparison websites out there.

As a result, clever ad agencies had to come up with ‘sticky’ brand assets that would make the companies stand out, and the companies themselves were required to spend millions on TV, billboard, radio and press ads to establish the link with their brands.

Read more…

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…

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