Whatever happened to the euphemism?….

Is the euphemism dying out? Growing up in 1960’s England there was an entire sub-lexicon of phraseology to cover just about everything.. It was the Golden age of euphemisms. Nobody died of pneumonia, diphtheria or tuberculosis, they were peaky, then poorly, then passed over. Some adults had to be watched …

Hey you!…..

Most of us know the difference between the intimate French tu and the more impersonal (and polite) vous. A similar distinction exists in Arabic between anta (‘you’ singular) and antum (‘you’ plural) – addressing an important person with anta (anti is the feminine version)  rather than antum would be considered impolite. In Vietnam there are no fewer than eighteen words for ‘you’, the use …

Exclamations from around the world…….

Exclamations are generally used to express a sudden reaction: to something frightening, incredible, spectacular, shocking or wonderful. Best not attempted by the visitor, they are better heard from the mouth of the native speaker than read off the page:  aaberdi (Algerian) a cry used when learning fearful news  aawwaah (Dardja, Algeria) a …

The wonderful world of lipograms…..

The making of lipograms—writing that purposely omits a certain letter of the alphabet—has a long history in literature. The word comes from the Greek lipo, meaning “lacking,” plus gramma, meaning “something written or drawn.” The first lipogram may have been an ode to centaurs by Lasus of Hermione (born 568 B.C)which …

A kiss is just a kiss…….

Apparently not…as you will find out below: 1. Herquebus (c.1566) The noun buss, meaning ‘a kiss, especially a loud or vigorous one – a smacker’, is first found in the mid-16th century, according to the wonderful people responsible for the OED. It may be a variant of the earlier bass …

March 21…….

On March the 21st, 1754, British nobleman and author Horace Walpole coined the word “serendipity” in a letter to his friend Horace Mann. Walpole used it in reference to the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip, in which characters continually make pleasant discoveries by accident. “Serendipity” was one …