Lovely Little Language Scraps of Late

So it’s official. The OED word of the year is ‘selfie’. Regardless of what you may think of the burgeoning trend for smartphone self-snapping, I do think it is a wonderfully current and topical choice, encompassing our reliance on social media and disposable imagery. Personally I’m quite partial to a cheeky selfie every now and then, mainly because it enables me to play daily editions of ‘The Ugly Face Game’ with my pals over whatsapp and snapchat, where we attempt to take the ugliest selfies of ourselves in the most public of places. One time I took it so far I gurned so hard I turned into a thumb:

The Day I Turned Into A  Thumb

The Day I Turned Into A Thumb

BUT HIDEOUS PHOTOS ASIDE each time the OED announces the addition of new words into the dictionary, I always do a little internal dance. People always whinge about this, claiming that current slang words shouldn’t be included but I think that is preposterous! Language is so beautiful and incredible because it lives- it is always shifting and breathing, and changes according to need and usage. It is etymological technology- and is far more complex than we even realise. We log on to facebook and twitter and use our iPhones with ease, but if we even attempted to understand the technology that is behind them, well, I think our bally brains would combust. Just like language. We speak it, use it, write and read it, yet the majority of us are so unaware of the complexities of our daily garb.

I’m reading a DEEPLY BRILLIANT book at the moment called ‘The Elements of Eloquence’ by language swooner Mark Forsyth, all about the hidden complexities in our delicious English Language which make certain phrases more memorable than others.

The elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth

All of it is BRILL but the chapter which has made my jaw drop the furthest so far is the chapter in which he discusses word order or to give it it’s Big Girl name, Hyperbaton. I’ll admit, when you put it like that it doesn’t sound knee-shakingly exciting but listen to this UNBELIEVABLE discovery:

“…adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose-Noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac.” (Forsyth, M (2013). The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase. London: Icon Books. p.39)*

HOW DOPE IS THAT?! That mega complex rule exists, and we all abide by it, yet 99% of us don’t even realise! My mind is blown.

Another piece of expression based excellence came in the form of these insanely brilliant etymology maps that show the origin of everyday words in a most amusing manner.

The Etymology of Pineapple

The Etymology of Pineapple

The Etymology of Beer

The Etymology of Beer

The Etymology of Bear

The Etymology of Bear

For the full list, check out the original post here.

Finally, as a lover of nonsense poem and a huge devoutee of The Jabberwocky I j’adore real words that have fallen out of favour so that these days to our neglected ears they sound MADE-UP. Check these badboys out:

WINK-A-PEEPS: the eyes.

BORBORYGMUS: long-winded word for an eructation or tummy rumble.

SCURRYFUNGE: hurriedly tidying one’s house before the cleaner arrives.

QUAGGY: wet and boggy, as in the river Quaggy in South-east London.

RAMFEEZLED: exhausted by overwork, a synonym for the equally lovely word, forswunk.

BLATTEROON: a senseless boaster or blabberer, you’ve probably been out with one at some point.

GROAK: to stare longingly, what dogs do at the sausage on your fork.

FESTINATE: to hurry, “it’s late, we need to festinate”.

Read more of these here!

Right, on that note this anonymuncle had better festinate toward her script to learn some more lines, lest the rest of my company deem me a ninnyhammer, though I do declare I am most ramfeezled!


*YES THAT WAS HARVARD REFERENCING MY LEARNED PALS! Sheesh that was a strain, haven’t done that in a while. Hoorah, finally- a practical use for my degree!

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