There are probably quite a few of you reading this who’ve never experienced the tedium of an office meeting. If so, you’ve seriously missed nothing. It’s just like on the TV; some self-important stuffed shirt expounding to all and sundry his or her grand visions for the future of the company, while everyone else wishes for the sweet release of death. All this would be bearable if not for the cofee – dear God, the coffee – and the seemingly bottomless font of crass neologisms that is business-speak. The first few times you hear a particular gem, it’s kind of fun, in a perverse way. Once you’ve cottoned on to whatever the hell it is they’re on about you can have fun watching others try to do the same.
As a happily married man, I have not had the dubious pleasure of dipping my toe into the murky waters of online dating. I have friends who met and are happily married thanks to the power of the internet and have several more for whom the idea of checking their email fills them with dread. Quite aside from the usual array of freaks and weirdos concomitant with such activities, the language of the dating scene has changed a fair bit since I was a boy. Forget WLTM (would like to meet) and GSOH (good sense of humour), there’s a whole array of terms to describe the unpleasant and unsavoury things people will do as they jockey for position in the online dating race to the bottom. If ever there was an activity to provide us with a new array of words and meanings, it’d be the mating game. “The power of love is a curious thing – make a one man weep, make another man sing” as a famous philosopher once said.
In these days of Brexit, I thought it would be nice to let people know where the terms for their precious pounds, shillings and pence and pounds and ounces come from. Good British weights, with a good British value. Or so you might think. I’m going to set my stall out, so to speak and say that I think the post-Brexit return to the old system of weights, measures and currency would be insane. The bewildering array of denominations in the ‘Imperial’ counting and measuring systems make meaningful calculations unnecessarily difficult and obfuscate the results from the scientific and engineering communities of the world. As I understand it, the people who want to return to this system are all around 75 years old and can’t be arsed to count in base ten like the rest of the world. Besides, British systems for British people, right? If you’ve got this far, I probably don’t have to try to convince you. If you’d like to know a bit more about the roots of these, the most British of values, read on.
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Sitting at the doctor’s desk while he or she nods meaningfully and makes copious notes on your life-threatening bunion or cold sore. What you may not be aware of is that these Hippocratic heroes and heroines are human. They are given to suffering from having a very bad day and to feeling generally miffed that they had to get out of bed to listen to your whining. It happens to us all, after all.
Oh boy. Did you ever realise just how many uses this word has? And how many pages of dubious photography I had to look at to get the picture I needed for this post? I was up all night, sweating and straining until my wrists were tired. It was all OK when I started looking for the pictures again.
A few words in today’s post. First is a word that many people misuse, the second is one that I learned recently and thought may interest you and the third is one with Greek roots that serves merely as an excuse to shoehorn in one of my favourite Flanders and Swann numbers.
This is a blog about words, language, grammar, basic linguistics and everything in between. I hope it will be informative, entertaining and at times, perilously close to interesting. You may well be aware of the old saying “necessity is the mother of invention”. Frank Zappa aside, I needed a name for my blog and all the good ones involving ‘words’ or ‘language’ were taken. I really didn’t fancy a portmanteau word and having seen some of the suggestions auto-generated by a computer, I don’t think we need to worry about the robots taking over any time soon. I definitely didn’t want a supposedly hip name like ‘Wordr’ or ‘Grammr’ so I just ended up thinking “Meh. I don’t know.” From this, the vague memory of an apocryphal story about kangaroos came to me and, if you will indulge me, I’ll explain it to you by way of an introduction to what I intend to do in the coming weeks, months and possibly years.