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Posts Tagged ‘English language’

 

Clueless

Clueless (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love discovering words and phrases from my youth and childhood that have gone by the way.  Not sure why since it only serves to herald my own impending demise, lol.  I’ve said this before – I find so many of these words and phrases from watching movies on Turner Classic Movies (TCM).  This weekend has been a bonanza AND when is the last time you ever heard someone under the age of 40 use the term BONANZA to describe a WINDFALL (yet another unused term)!

 

Let’s start with what is known as the minced oath.  The English, being naturally reserved found a way to communicate some explicit emotions without being really explicit.  They have a long tradition of double-entendre comedy.

 

Euphemisms aren’t all from the distant past though. For every Shaksperian ‘beast with two backs’ there’s a 20th century ‘knee trembler’.  The first phrase on my list is a perfect example of the above.

 

1. Jumping Jehosophat– Jehosophat is a euphemism for Jesus

 

2. Peel an eel – I couldn’t find any origin of this phrase or usage except in the Preston Sturgis film when the term is used as the equivalent of “go fry an egg” .   NOT to be confused with the phrase Peel the eel whose meaning I am not going into.

 

3. Pshaw – heard this word used when I was a child and even then it was a dated term.  It’s really a word imitative of the sound one might make when annoyed or disgusted.  Pronounced p-shaw or puh- shaw.

 

4. Poppycock – Means nonsense or rubbish.  Never heard anymore, so dated.  Sounds like something a retired English Colonel might say but it is NOT English, it is American in origin.  It may come from the similar Dutch word poppekak, which appears only in the old set phrase zo finn als gemalen poppekak, meaning to show excessive religious zeal, but which literally means “as fine as powdered doll shit”. The word was presumably taken to the USA by Dutch settlers; the scatological associations were lost when the word moved into the English-language community.

 

The first half of the word is the Dutch pop for a doll, which may be related to our term of endearment, poppet; the second half is essentially the same as the old English cack for excrement; the verb form of this word is older than the noun, and has been recorded as far back as the fifteenth century.

 

5. – Davenport – Davenport was the name of a series of sofas made by the Massachusetts furniture manufacturer A. H. Davenport and Company, now defunct. Due to the popularity of the furniture at the time, the name davenport became a generalized trademark, like aspirin.  

 

6. – Horsefeathers – It seems most likely that it began either as a bowdlerized variant of horse shit or as an expression of the view that something is highly unlikely, about as probable as that pigs might fly … or that horses might have feathers.  The issue of American Speech dated December 1928 records that “Mr. William De Beck, the comic-strip comedian responsible for ‘Barney Google,’ assumes credit for the first actual use of the word horsefeathers”. This claim has been frequently reported since, to the point at which it has become accepted knowledge.

 

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OH, didn’t I tell you that my daughter’s Nanny does NOT speak English?  Oh yes, that little detail adds so much more to the running of the household, the raising of the kids, not to mention general communication.  It’s been a learning experience  for all.  I believe Belle joined the family in July, my daughter spoke no Spanish, my son-in-law speaks no Spanish, Francesca knew a little bit of Portuguese from the previous NY nanny and Finley was getting bits and pieces of Spanish at school.  That was then.

Fast forward to October and I find that my grandchildren can understand directions and instructions from Belle in Spanish, (most evident at mealtimes) and my daughter can have a conversation (albeit somewhat limited in subject matter) with her.  As for myself I am at a loss as to why only French words come to mind,  since I took in high school and you don’t really want to know how long ago that was!    I never took Spanish and never spent any time with someone who spoke it, but thought since French and Spanish were both Romance languages I would stand a chance communicating.  NOT SO!  There is very little resemblance between the words and of course the spoken word is completely foreign to me when pronounced with her Colombian accent.

This morning, Belle and I were the only ones up after the girls went to school.  We were in the kitchen together so we attempted some sort of conversation.  It’s amazing how much you can say and understand when you combine French, Italian and hand-gesture sign language.  BUT it’s not enough.  Galaxy4 to the rescue.  I have two apps on my new phone that have enabled to actually get a question answered or to say something to Belle.  One is Voice Search and that one is a riot.  Most of the time it gets it right but a couple of times the response were really crazy.  It operates on my voice asking how do you say___in Spanish.  Then the electronic voice ( I don’t know her name but she’s not Siri because this ain’t no Apple) comes on speaking my words in Spanish.  So I talk to the phone and then hand it over to Belle to listen to.  You can see how easily conversation flows NOT.  The second app is called Translate.  I type in a sentence and the phone translates it into Spanish, so again I’m on the phone and then I hand it to her.  This all makes for a discussion that no one else can hear.  Mmmm possibly a good thing!

We talked about the girls and about food and cooking.  We compared some notes and traded ideas.  She likes to cook with coconut oil and I’m into olive oil.  This morning I showed her how to fork split a Thomas’ english muffin so there would be nooks and crannies for the butter to ooze into.  We, as the older and wiser parental units, talked about child rearing and how the younger generation does things differently (do not read better).

Five friends are coming for lunch today to see the new baby.  Belle has been cooking quinoa with pistachio nuts, craisins, parsley and lemon juice as one of the dishes.  A vegetable lasagna is also prepared to be heated and there will be salad.  I’m not sure if I am included in this luncheon, but either way is fine with me.  I wouldn’t mind delving into my book for a while or actually going outside other than to get in a car to drive somewhere.  There is a pool outside but it appears to be black – the bottom is painted black Tom calls it The Black Lagoon.  No one is swimming in it, we think the filter is broken

INTERMISSION:

The Lake Ida gang of good friends arrived not just to meet and greet Fletcher BUT also to learn the gender of Leslie’s impending birth.  She brought dessert and very cleverly had one cup cake decorated in the appropriate colors.  Bets all around;  5 of us said it’s a boy and Chiara forecasted a girl.  You guessed it right?  The cupcake had pink frosting on it!

After the ladies left, there was maybe 15 minutes before the before the next visitor arrived;  I picked up Francesca at school (solo) (aren’t you impressed?) This visitor arrived with a bundt cake and 3 kids!  The cakes looked delicious and with a devil-may-care attitude, the mothers gave the kids slices of cake (Gigi does not approve of cake before dinner).  Now with 5 kids wired on sugar, let the fun begin!  Lots of racing around, lots of shrieks and then my sister called.  

Silly Putty

Silly Putty

She wanted to visit to see the new baby and the girls and me.  This would be the only time I would see her before she moved to Las  Vegas to marry her beau, Nick and start a new career as a hostess in the high roller room at a casino.  Nick has made all of the arrangements and she has assured me everything is on the up an up.  She needed directions to punch into her GPS.

This is when the real drama began;  Francesca needed me in the bathroom with her with the door closed.  About 4 minutes later I emerged to the sound of wailing, and I mean REAL loud crying.  What happened?  Well, if you’ve been to Florida you know the builders penchant for stone tile floors, granite counters and ceramic tile foyers?  Apparently during a wild chase through the rooms, one of the visiting kids slammed into the kitchen counter on the island AND knocked out a tooth!  She had a baggy of ice on her mouth which did little to muffle her crying!

Chiara says: ” I think Aunt Mardy called on your phone”.  I called her back and was greeted with: “It’s about time you picked up your phone”.  OHHHHHKAAY!  I just bit my tongue and calmly explained I had been otherwise occupied and did NOT bring my phone into the bathroom considering the fate of the iPhone5  the other night.  

She arrived laden with Halloween bags for the girls and gifts for Chiara, Tom and Fletcher.  And what do you think was in the goodie bags?  Glow in the dark Silly Putty – all the better to locate when stuck onto the couch, a microphone (batteries required) so one can be a Rock Star, Glo-sticks which she opened into glass jars with the girls to make Fairy Dust! and Hair Chalk!  Yes now the girls can paint their own hairs pink or purple, how convenient.  AND then the floor and leather chair were sprinkled with  blue powder! Fairy Dust? No, Finley opened up a small cylinder of this powder and spilled it.  She didn’t know it was the 2013 version of Pixie Dust which in my day, came encased in a straw – all the easier to suck up.  This innovation had a big sucker attached to a handle that after you sucked, you could dip it in the blue SUGAR!  Clearly by now you know my sister has NO children of her own!

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