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Words are fascinating ... Put them together in the right way, and we can communicate with people in other places and other times. Make a mess of it and ...

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Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Friday, January 15, 2010

What's in a Name?

A couple of observations about people and their names ...

I happened to be flipping through one of those ubiquitous women's magazines while waiting for some person or other to deign to serve me, when I happened upon yet another article about Our Nic and Our Keith and their little girl, Sunday Rose, and it got me thinking about the days of the week as names, and why some days are popular and others don't rate a mention.

F'r instance, we have the aforementioned Sunday Rose Urban; those of us who can remember the 60s will recall Tuesday Weld; those who landed on Earth a little later will be familiar with Wednesday from the Addams Family (so named because she was "full of woe" as is Wednesday's child). Then we all know Robinson Crusoe's mate, Man Friday, but have you ever come across a person or character called Saturday or Thursday, and if not, why not?

And we come across a similar mystery regarding the months -- April, May and June are all popular girls' names; we can stretch it a bit and say that July (Julie) is a common name, as is Auguste (for a boy), but where are the Februaries, the Septembers and the Decembers?


And that brings us to 7, one of our Merry Band, whose legal name is the numeral 7 (not the word "Seven").

Do you have an unusual name?

Have you given your children unusual names?

Do you know anyone who has a name best forgotten?

Click the Comments button to tell your tale!

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Saturday, January 09, 2010

Foreign Words We Could Use in English

Then there are those words we don't have in English, that do exist in other languages, Nick Skellon wrote, "On an added note, I'm always amused by the way the Germans have words we don't have. My favourite in the whole world is 'backpfeifengesicht,' which means 'a face that deserves a slap'.

"Another is 'handscuhschneeballwerfer', which is a long (and typically German - why use one syllable when you can use six?) way of saying 'wimp'. It literally means 'someone who wears gloves when throwing snowballs.' I read a magazine article ages ago in which it said that they have about half a dozen other long-winded ways of referring to different levels of wimpiness (including 'someone who indicates whilst turning in a car park') but I can't remember any of them."

I wasn't able to confirm that the utterly divine 'handscuhschneeballwerfer' actually exists, but oh, I hope it does!

I'd expect nothing less from our wonderful German cousins who brought us the too, too perfect word 'schadenfreude,' which means taking delight in the misfortune of others.

If you have any words like this from another language (not just German) that we really could use in English, please click the Comment button and add them to our vocabulary.

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Missing words in English

What a nightmare it must be for teachers these days when they're trying to teach correct spelling to children busily sending profound messages to each other, such as: cu b4 u ce me

Sigh ...

And some of this shorthand is just plain silly.

I can see the point (sort of) for the abbreviations above: 'cu b4 u c me' is marginally quicker than typing 'see you before you see me,' and it is possible to work out the meaning from the phonetics. But other text abbreviations are mind-blowingly useless.

F'r instance, IANADBIPOOTV is short for I Am Not A Doctor But I Play One On TV.

Granted, it's definitely shorter ... but exactly why do we need a shorthand expression for that?

Despite having hundreds of TMTs (text message thingies) we don't yet have a word for them. Maybe I've just coined a new acronym!

We seem to be coming across quite a few gaps in English these days. After writing about this a couple of weeks ago , member of our Merry Band, Nick Skellon, commented, "Firstly, how are we supposed to describe our children when they've grown up? When people ask me if I have any children and I reply 'yes'' they somehow imagine them to be 12 or 14. When I tell them that they're 24 and 26, they're surprised. So how about a word for 'grown-up kids'?

"Secondly, we really need a word for something in between 'like' and 'love'. If you say you like someone it puts them on a par with your mates and your favourite dessert. But love is just too over-the-top to be used in anything but very special circumstances. How do you say you really like someone?

So? Does anyone have any suggestions for these missing words?
We're looking for three words here:

1.a word for TMTs

2. a word for grown-up children

3. a word that's between 'like' and 'love'

And a couple we've been pondering for some time:

4. a collective word for aunts and uncles (we have mother, father, parent, but not aunt, uncle ... ?)

5. a separate word for our female cousins and our male cousins (fuzzins and muzzins is taking longer to catch on than I imagined!)

6. a word for our Significant Other when not married and in Our Prime. 'Girlfriend' and 'boyfriend' simply doesn't cut the mustard when describing someone who's a grandparent, while 'lover' is just too much information!

Click the Comment button to add your suggestions!

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