Friday, September 4, 2015

A (Somewhat) Flexible Logophile

Thought for the day:  Indecision is the key to flexibility.


[seniorark]
Yeah. Okay. Sure, I can be flexible. Not like that feisty ol' gal in the picture kinda flexible, but given the right circumstances, I'm open to changing my mind. Like, for example, I finished a perfectly fine post for today almost two weeks ago. A good one, too. Classy. Yep, you know me. Real classy. It was a fine dissertation on bird poop. Really. (Didn't stink a bit!)

BUT... a small article in  Monday's newspaper made me change my mind and scramble to write a new post. See how that works? Flexible. That's me. Oughta be my middle name.

So what did I see, you ask? Something irresistible to a word nerd, or logophile (lover of words) like me. It was about some of the new words that have just been added to the Oxford Dictionary.





[wikipedia]

No, not THIS Oxford Dictionary. Updating the contents of this august set of books on a quarterly basis would require an almost impossible level of flexibility... not to mention a boatload of effort and moolah. No, I'm talking about the free online version at OxfordDictionaries.com. Here, the same honorable (Excuse me; I mean honourable.) folks who publish the world-renown Oxford English Dictionary help us keep track of the ever-changing face of the English language.

A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content, according to circumstances and the time in which it is used.  [Oliver Wendell Holmes]

The most recent update added more than a thousand new words. I, uh, won't be sharing all of those words with you. (You're welcome.) But I will share a handful:


BRAIN FART: a temporary mental lapse.

Who'd a thunk it? Slang ... and a kind of undignified slang, at that... with an Oxford seal of approval.

Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands, and goes to work.  [Carl Sandburg]

FAT-SHAME:  to make fun of someone for being overweight.

The dictionary isn't condoning it; just expressing the reality that many people are doing it. And that's the real shame.

HANGRY:  a grumpy state caused by being hungry

Huh. I never heard of this one before, but it's kinda cool.

BEER O'CLOCK and WINE O'CLOCK: Just what you think they mean... it's time to drink an adult beverage. Smarticus has been calling it beer thirty for years.


BUTT DIAL: to accidentally call someone on the phone... with your butt? Reeeeeally? Geez, that doesn't sound like something I'd want to do, even if I could. I mean, I am NOT that flexible. Just take a look at my desk phone there. I cannot figure out for the life of me how I could possibly dial it with my backside on purpose, let alone inadvertently. Never mind. This term is actually in reference to a mobile phone tucked into someone's rear pocket. No problem. I don't have one of those, and it's a cinch my desk phone ain't gonna fit in my pocket.

[seniorark]
MANSPREADING: refers to men who sprawl on public transportation, with their legs spread wide apart, so they're gobbling up the space of passengers sitting in adjoining seats.

Seems as though the term could apply to guys hogging space in an office setting, too...

[wikipedia]

MACGYVER: to make or repair something in an inventive manner.

Really? This show was on TV from like 1985 until about 1992, so it's kinda odd that the term is just catching on now. But it's a good one. As anyone knows who ever saw that show, all MacGyver needed was a Swiss army knife, a piece of string and a little bit of spit to fix just about anything. (Slight exaggeration there.)

BUTTHURT:  overly offended or resentful.

Another new one on me, but it is a kinda fun one, isn't it? I would have thought it was referring to those poor suffering souls who (OW!) have to sit on an inflatable donut.

[morguefile]

RAGE-QUIT:  to angrily quit an activity or pursuit; particularly refers to the playing of video games.

Huh! We used to call a person who got mad and took his ball and went home a poor sport. Or a spoiled brat. It's kinda sad that this kind of petulant behavior has become prevalent enough to rate its own special term in the dictionary.


Even as new words are added to the dictionary multiple times a year to reflect the changing habits of language, so too do words get dropped. Alas, some words now obsolete are totally cool, and our language is the less for their loss. Here's one of my favorites:


WONDER-WENCH: a sweetheart.

Wouldn't it be cool to be called a wonder-wench? It's more earthy and less perfect than Wonder Woman, but totally cool.  It could reflect a state of wonder, too, maybe. Anyhow, I like it. And it's much nicer than BEEF-WITTED, another obsolete word, dontcha think? (Yeah, it meant just what it sounds like... having a dull brain.)




[wikipedia]

For those of you who are as enamored with words as I am, here's another dictionary you might enjoy. Written in 1811 by Francis Grose, the Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue is a treasure trove of obsolete words. I haven't checked its status recently, but I got an e-version of this book from Amazon for FREE a couple years ago. Wanta hear some of those words? As if you had a choice... (Sorry. I'm on a roll.)

  • BLIND CUPID- backside
  • ELBOW SHAKER- dice player
  • FLASH THE HASH- vomit
  • SHOOT THE CAT- vomit because of drinking too much booze
  • TWIDDLE DIDDLES- testicles
  • TWIDDLE POOP- effeminate-looking man
Okay, before I close, let me share one last example of the new words just added to the online dictionary. It's HOT DIGGITY, a phrase used to express excitement. Whattaya know? What's old is new again. Check out this video of a popular song from 1956:



So who knows? Maybe wonder-wench and twiddle diddles could make a comeback some day, too.

Until next time, when I will regale you with that riveting tale about bird poop, take care of yourselves. And each other. 

Language has created the word 'loneliness' to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word 'solitude' to express the glory of being alone.  [Paul Tillich]

If the English language made any sense, a catastrophe would be an apostrophe with fur.  [Gary Larson]

Language is wine upon the lips.  [Virginia Woolf]

I believe it is now wine o'clock. Time for a nice glass of... language.  [me]

58 comments:

  1. I knew some of these terms. Maybe I should start calling some of my friends wonder wench and see how they react. :) I can't stand manspreading. I like my space. There should also be a term for people who bring more than one carry-on on planes.

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    1. I think most women would be thrilled to be called wonder-wench. Wouldn't you?

      Interesting that it's called MANspreading. I guess that means members of the fairer sex don't indulge in this kind of rude behavior? (Or maybe just not as often.) Ya know, there probably IS a term for people who carry too much stuff onto an airplane. (CHEAP, for one thing, because they don't want to fork over money to check it.)

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  2. We should shamespread the manspreaders and the carry-on hogs.
    I do love words. Real ones, and the ones which SHOULD be real.
    Happy weekend.
    And I hope your glass of language never runs dry.

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    1. Yes, there are lots of words that SHOULD be words. Maybe we should just start using them, and set a trend. :)

      Happy weekend to you, too. You wonder-wench, you.

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  3. Hi Susan - I knew some of the terms ... wine-o'clock seems to be a favourite for bloggers - time to switch off! Manspreading is a term I hadn't heard - but how appropriate. I find it fascinating what words the powers that be put into the dictionaries each year ... the English language is always evolving .. not so sure I want all these words to be around in 200 years .. but I personally like beef-witted ... not sure I'd use it often though - but oh so quietly I'd apply it to a few people!

    A good flexible blog movement ... and that woman - makes me cringe!! Cheers Hilary

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    1. I find it very interesting to see what new words are added and taken away each year, too. There's actually a website (which I mentioned in an earlier post, but don't recall offhand) which allows people to give their opinions as to which words and/or expressions should be dumped. Some interesting results, too.

      Cheers back atcha!

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  4. Truly enjoyed this post --yes, an admitted logophile-- from the photo, which brings back fond memories of waking with my foot stuck 7 feet up a signpost, to pondering the honourable British tradition of giving jobs to superfluous vowels, to imagining a venerable Western Electric (model 202?) desk phone in my back pocket...oh I just liked the whole post!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it, dude. We logophiles have to stick together.

      Not sure about my phone. It has E1 written on it, if that helps. One good thing about that old phone, beside its ultra-cool appearance, is that it can double quite nicely as a formidable weapon, if need be. :)

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  5. I know all about Hangry..... Guilty.

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    1. Yeah, I reckon a drop in blood sugar can turn just about anyone into a grump.

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  6. "If the English language made any sense, a catastrophe would be an apostrophe with fur. [Gary Larson]"
    So many smiles this morning, and that's my favorite one! Although wonder wench is new to me as is beer and wine o'clock. Never heard butthurt, but rage quit is my son to a T. He tears his room apart when the game he's playing outwits him. And I want to do the same when I hear the my house coming down around my ears. :)
    Love words! Woke up this morning with a Halloween tale brewing, better get to writing! Happy Labor Day Weekend!

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    1. I'm glad you found something worthy of a smile or two here today. I might have been a teensy bit butthurt if you hadn't... (Then again, that could be from sitting on my blind cupid too long.)

      Okay, wonder-wench, get to writing! And have a super weekend.

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  7. I loved this post, Susan. I am often a victim of "brain farts" but I find this phrase so much more fun than "senior moment".

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    1. Thanks, Arlene. Yeah, I love the term "brain fart," too. We've been using the term for a long time, but it's kinda refreshing to be validated by Oxford. :)

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  8. I'd love to be called a wonder-wench!

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  9. Manspreader is a new one to me. Rage quitting and butthurt I've seen and heard often on video games.

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    1. The term "manspreading" is kinda sexist, isn't it? Maybe the sweet delicate women (wonder-wenches, I'm sure) who ride on public transportation are much more considerate than the cloddish men...?

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  10. excellent post, though I"m sure the bird poop one is right up there or splatted on my car. Anyway, love the Virginia Woolfe quote - perhaps she wrote it at wine o'clock. And I like the difference between solitude and loneliness - made me ponder it. Doubt you'll be lonely for Labor Day weekend - enjoy family and friends.

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    1. Thanks. Well, we'll find out about the bird poop one next week. (I had fun writing it, anyway.)

      You have a fantabulous Labor Day weekend, too. (And if fantabulous isn't a word, it should be!)

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  11. It's early in the morning, I only slept two hours, and I have to make the torturous drive into town today. I'm experiencing a repulsive case of Brain Fart. I wish I could summon the twiddle diddles to write a brilliant comment but my mind is impotent.

    It sounds like the "experts" are grasping at straws for finding new "words" to cram into the Oxford Dictionary. Perhaps the Bedlam Dictionary would be a more apt description.....

    Have a hot diggity holiday weekend!

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    1. You poor thing. I hope you can squeeze in a wee nap this afternoon.

      I was a little surprised to see so many slang words included in the new additions to the dictionary, too, because I always thought of the OED as being so... I dunno... prim and proper? But the dictionary's senior editor said the addition of so many slang words doesn't mean the dictionary is dumbing down; the purpose is to show the creative use of language.

      You have a hot diggity weekend, too!

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  12. What interesting terms, thanks for sharing those. Greetings!

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    1. Greetings back atcha. I'm glad you enjoyed them.

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  13. You have given me an earworm--haven't thought of that "Hot Diggity" song in years & now I can't get it out of my head. I suppose it's better than "If I Only Had a Brain"!!

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    1. HA! Why should I be alone? I've been singing and humming Perry's old song for the past couple days. :) At least, it's a cheery song.

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  14. Great post today. Very happy you were flexible and wrote it.
    But what do you call an all day brain fart ? I have those all the time.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Thanks. Glad ya liked it.

      An all-day brain fart, eh? How's about "mental dyspepsia?"

      Cheers back atcha.

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  15. This is a fun post, Susan. I've heard of several of these new words, but not all of them. I enjoyed the Perry Como song too. :) Hope you have a nice Labor Day weekend!

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    1. Thanks, Daisy. I'm glad you enjoyed listening to Perry Como. (Such a feel-good song!)

      You have a super weekend, too!

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  16. My daughters had to explain the phrase "throwing shade" to me this week. Younger daughter told older daughter that her current science teacher was "throwing shade" at the teacher most of them had the previous year. Older daughter laughed and laughed, having already had both teachers.

    I jumped in and wanted explanations (already envisioning teachers throwing window shades at each other) -- and learned that "throwing shades" means delivering slightly veiled insults when everyone knows who they're intended for.

    THEN my daughters told me: "DON'T try to use that in a book, Mom. Cause you'll never get it right."

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    1. "Throwing shade" is new to me, too, but it's really a terrific (and useful) phrase. Your daughters are probably right about you not using it in a book, though, but NOT because you wouldn't "get it right," though. By the time the book comes out, the phrase could already be out of favor. Heck, it may not even be widely-used now. Could just be a PA thing.

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  17. Language is a lot of fun to watch change and grow and evolve! "Hangry" I've known for many years - I have a feeling my youngest son contributed to its rise in popularity. Come to think of it, he used to be into "rage quitting" as well, throwing the monopoly board and pieces all over the living room when he'd lose... Hahaha.

    Have a really nice long weekend! I'm eating licorice right now. :-)

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    1. I don't know if I ever heard the term "hangry" before or not.What it makes me think of, though, are those Snickers TV commercials. Our younger son didn't exactly "rage quit," but he really hated to lose. When he was real young, he always tried to make up the game rules as we went along. Got pretty funny at times.

      You have a super weekend, too. Woo HOO! I hope that means you LIKE licorice. I do ( a lot!) but not everyone does. :)

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  18. What is the word for Good Stuff? How about

    Good Stuff!

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  19. oh my goodness! I love you! Hot Diggety!
    I'd completely forgotten this until now.
    I remember singing along with this when I was little and didn't know all the words.

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    1. HA! I'm glad you enjoyed the song as much as I do. :) (I can imagine you, Fran, and me all singing it right now...)

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  20. I almost laughed my blind cupid off, at those obsolete words.
    I for one will be bringing back 'shoot the cat' and 'flash the hash.'
    Spawn, being a reincarnation of a Victorian gent, absolutely hates slang words, especially 'chillax,' which is a combination of 'chill' and 'relax'...so of course, I use it all the time.

    Hope you have a good weekend Susan. :)

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    1. I'm glad you got a kick out of these words, wonder-wench. I like that "flash the hash" one, too. Has a nice ring to it. :)

      You have a super weekend, too.

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  21. I thought "brain fart"is sime kinda "blah"- uselesswords somebody says. Niw I know and even learned more. I'm gonna use them when speaking with friends just to check who's updated and who's "historic" (knowing obsolete words :)

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Really interesting and informative.

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    1. I guess if enough people use a phrase, no matter how "blah" it is, it will eventually make its way into the dictionary. (For a little while, anyway!)

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  22. Thanks for sharing all these. Its a fun post.

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    1. You're welcome, Nas. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  23. I strongly approve of Beer O'Clock, but I approve of Beer Thirty even more. Most people don't notice it, but if you go to our website, the little tiny microscopic icon that's at the very top of your browser next to our website name is a logo I designed pointing out that it's Beer Thirty.

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    1. I'm not surprised you beer-y guys are familiar with those phrases. but I never noticed the Beer Thirty logo on your website. I'll look for it next time I pop over.

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  24. I knew a few of these new slang sayings... I don't think they'll be around for long... nothing new seems to last long before something else takes over. I like Wonder wench... that one might come back xox

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    1. You're right; more and more, language is as susceptible to changing trends as the clothes we wear. Well, the clothes SOME people wear, anyway. I've never cared a diddle about the latest fashions or what other people wear, so I wear whatever I have... and I use whatever words strike my fancy, whether they're from my youth, from George Washington's youth, or from the latest slang terms. Whatever works. And for me? Wonder-wench works!

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  25. I enjoyed reading all these new words. I also like words – I have a little book where I keep a list of my favorite words. From the ones you mentioned I particularly enjoyed “Brain Fart” and “Beef Witted.” Living in Georgia where they eat more pork and/or chicken it seems “Pig Witted” or “Chicken Witted” would be more apropos, but ‘beef witted’ has a certain appeal I think – it sounds more musical.

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    1. "Pig-witted" actually has a pretty good ring to it to me. And I live in Georgia, too. :)

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  26. One thing my word geekery has let me to is a love of etymology. Languages evolve so quickly. It's amazing how the same language is not the same ten, twenty, thirty years later. Over a hundred years, there's so much difference. A couple hundred years, it's almost a different language. Fascinating stuff.

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    1. Absolutely. Tracking the changes in word usage definitely leads to some fascinating stuff.

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  27. Oh, my gosh! That Brain Fart pup! Sooo cute.

    BTW, I didn't know you were an Alaskan oil painter in your spare time: susanswiderski.com You do get around! ;)

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    1. HA! Yeah, I know. There are actually thirteen people named Susan Swiderski listed on Google. (And here, I thought I was unique...) The painter is probably the most famous.

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  28. I thought we both wrote about words on the same day but as I look, you were first. That picture of the old lady with her leg up is a good one. Reminds me of what I said on Pat's blog a couple of days ago and of course, he went gutter. That wonder woman did have a perfect body. I never noticed before..... prob because my body was OK at that time, too. Now I notice. Ha

    I think I still say Hot Diggity. Oh yes, Perry Como. Do you remember that his wife, Claudine Longet (sp) shot her lover, Spider Sabitch and how nice Perry was about it and stayed loyal to her? Then Saturday Night Live had the funniest skit about it. (Of course in a dark, funny way) In their skit, she shot him when he was skiing and he would fall down but get up again and she'd shoot him again and again. The announcer would say, "he's down, no he's up
    again." etc, etc. The poor skiing guy was up and down during the whole ski run.
    I don't know why I remember that in vivid detail when I can't tell you what I had for lunch. Oh, ya, soup, it was soup. See, not too bad yet. lol
    Love to you....

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    1. I still say "Hot diggity," too. And yeah, I do remember that whole scandal with Claudine. The only thing I didn't remember was her skier boyfriend's name, so you're one up on me. :)

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