Archive for the ‘Words’ Category


Posted on December 29th, 2012by jake
In Words | Leave a Comment »

YOLO {You Only Live Once} appeared on numerous ‘words of 2012′ lists. The rapper Drake who popularized the term in his hit single ‘The Motto’ has been tweeting his disapproval of companies cashing in on the words popularity. Tweeting a picture of a shelving unit crammed with baseball hats sporting the word, Drake captioned the picture with ‘”Walgreens….you gotta either chill or cut the cheque”. He later also tweeted a picture of t-shirts being sold at Macy’s with YOLO emblazoned on the front. Drake appears to believe that he should be getting royalties for creating, or at least popularizing the word, yet can people trademark words?

Many celebrities have tried to trademark words that they have made famous. It was widely reported that Jay-Z and Beyonce attempted to trademark their daughters name Blue Ivy, but their bid was rejected by the patents office. Paris Hilton successfully trademarked her catchphrase ‘that’s hot’ but only in certain instances. Basketball coach Pat Riley did however manage to trademark the words ’3-peat’ and ‘three-peat’ entirely, meaning that he would be entitled to royalties if the words were to appear on commercial products like t-shirts. Of course many words that are trademarked have entered into our everyday language. Words like Tupperware, bubble wrap and jacuzzi are all brand names and trademarked. As long as you don’t attempt to sell products with these words on them. no lawyers should come knocking at your door.

via: Billboard

The Words of 2012

Posted on December 22nd, 2012by jake
In English, Slang, Words | Leave a Comment »

Another year passing means another mountain of neologisms. Whilst many will be relegated to the linguistic scrap heap a few no doubt will latch onto our vocabularies for years to come. The New York Times has compiled a list of the clever, the witty and the just plain ridiculous, of which I thought I’d share a few.

FRANKENSTORM The storm that hit the East Coast in October, a few days before Halloween.

GANGNAM STYLE The manner and attitude ascribed to the affluent Gangnam District of Seoul, South Korea. This term came to the attention of the world when the Korean pop star PSY released the song and video “Gangnam Style.” His signature “galloping pony ride” dance was the macarena of 2012.

NOMOPHOBIA Fear of losing or forgetting one’s mobile phone, or of being outside of the phone’s signal area. From no more (phone|phobia).

YOLO An acronym for “You Only Live Once.” Used as an interjection when someone is considering doing something risky or ill-advised. The expression took off this year after the hip-hop star Drake’s song “The Motto” became a hit in 2011.

I’m far from being a linguistic purist but is this the best we could do? Scrap what I said earlier. Hopefully when 2013 arrives we will all suffer a collective bout of amnesia and will never utter any of these words ever, ever again. What was your word of 2012?

via: NYT

Accidental Insensitivity

Posted on December 19th, 2012by jake
In Culture, Words | Leave a Comment »

The Oxford English Dictionary has come under fire for choosing ‘bloodbath’ as its word of the day. The word has been deemed insensitive and ill timed in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shootings which claimed the lives of 27 people. The OED released a statement explaining that:

“The timing of today’s word is a coincidence of the worst kind, and we apologize for any distress or upset caused by what might seem to be a highly insensitive choice,” [...] “What we hope to show with our words of the day is that even seemingly commonplace words can have interesting etymologies; however we have taken today’s word down from the OED Online homepage and are now taking immediate steps to review our scheduling and selection policy.”

This has not been the first case of accidental insensitivity with many news reports condemning gun advertisements being placed next to reports of the shootings.

via: Global Post

Love Language

Posted on November 30th, 2012by jake
In Uncategorized, Words | Leave a Comment »

Is it possible to know how much two people are attracted to each other just by the words they use? New research published in Psychological Science suggests yes.

James Pennebaker and his colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin recorded 40 men and 40 women as they participated in a speed-dating exercise in which they talked to 12 strangers of the opposite sex for four minutes apiece. Later, the subjects rated each date based on how much they seemed to have in common and whether they wanted to see the person again. Pennebaker analyzed the participants’ conversations based on their use of pronouns and articles, such as “him,” “the,” “and,” “as” and “be.”

The results were quite surprising. The couples that used similar function words the same amount of times were more likely to want to see each other again. This raises the interesting question as to whether couples are attracted to each other because they speak in a similar way, or do couples modify their language to sound similar to each other. Pennebakers conclusion was that language ‘predicts relationship success because it reflects how well couples listen to each other’.

[via: Scientific American]


Posted on October 23rd, 2012by jake
In Culture, English, Uncategorized, Welsh, Words | Leave a Comment »

I didn’t think growing up in Wales had influenced my speech until I moved to England. My entire family is English but many Wenglish (Welsh-English) words have made their way into my vocabulary. I remember during a conversation with my English housemates describing how a cat had ‘scrammed’ me. A perplexed look greeted me after using the word ‘scrammed’. ‘What do you mean scrammed?’ they asked, kindly offering the word ‘scratched’ as an alternative after I made the hand gesture of a cats claw. For me scratched did not sufficiently describe what I wanted to say. A scratch is a minimal injury, a mere surface wound inflicted by a single claw. Scrammed is more violent, it implies malicious intent, brute force and many claws dragging down. I had previously thought that scrammed was a standard English word and it was confusing to me that other people had no idea what it meant.

Many differences in Wenglish can be observed in sentence structures. When answering a phone call if you wanted to ask the caller where they are, many Welsh people would say ‘Where you to?’ instead of ‘Where are you?’. If the caller wanted to tell you that they will be with you shortly they might say ‘I’ll be there now, in a minute’ offering you two conflicting answers. Wenglish quirks often stem from additional superfluous words being used to express a simple statement. An example of this is instead of saying ‘I love you’ a Welsh person might say ‘I loves you I do’. Before moving to England these statements were standard English in my mind. Although most Wenglish words and phrases have now been erased from my vocabulary, I do smile whenever I’m back in Wales and hear somebody on their phone asking ‘Oh, where you to?’.

Assiduous, Perfidious and Querulous

Posted on October 22nd, 2012by jake
In Education, English, Hints and Tips, Words | Leave a Comment »

I came across a fun word game on Word Dynamo that is intended for American students studying for their SATs. As I read English at university I fancied my chances of attaining a perfect score but a few words managed to stump me. I managed to get 44/47 on the quiz and I thought I would include the words that eluded me and their definitions below.

Assiduous – Showing great care and perseverance.

Perfidious – Deceitful and untrustworthy.

Querulous – Complaining in a petulant or whining manner.

Online word games are a fantastic way to enhance your vocabulary and I am going to try and commit these words to memory so I can use them in day to day speech. The quiz I completed can be found HERE. Why not give it a go and see i you can beat my score.

Redefining Words

Posted on October 17th, 2012by jake
In English, Words | Leave a Comment »

You wouldn’t imagine the fusty world of dictionaries could spark much controversy but in Australia the definition of the word misogyny has done just that. Australian prime minister Julia Gillard has come under fire for supposedly misusing the word misogyny when critiquing the leader of the opposition. Prompted by this incident, one of Australia’s most respected dictionaries, the Macquarie Dictionary, has decided to update it’s definition of the word. From solely meaning a person that hates women the Macquarie Dictionary has decided to also include it’s common usage meaning “entrenched prejudice against women”.

“Since the 1980s, misogyny has come to be used as a synonym for sexism, a synonym with bite, but nevertheless with the meaning of entrenched prejudice against women rather than pathological hatred,” [Sue Butler, editor of the Macquarie Dictionary] said in a statement.

While the Oxford English Dictionary had reworded its definition a decade ago, staff at the Macquarie had been alerted to the issue only in the aftermath of Gillard’s extraordinary speech in parliament, she said. “Perhaps as dictionary editors we should have noticed this before it was so rudely thrust in front of us as something that we’d overlooked,” Butler told the Associated Press.

[Source – The Guardian]

This story is fascinating to me because it shows how much power dictionary makers have. Redefining a word or merely adding another usage to it’s meaning can have large scale consequences. Amazingly a small alteration of the word misogyny in one dictionary is causing a political firestorm in Australia today.

Nonsense words game

Posted on September 25th, 2012by Michelle
In Etymology, Words | Leave a Comment »

I enjoy playing word games, and recently came across this one on Sporcle.

You’ve got 10 minutes to try and match 26 ‘nonsense’ words to their definition or etymology.

I got a fairly dismal 11 in 3 minutes; can you do better?

Expressive dictionary

Posted on August 28th, 2012by Michelle
In Pronunciation, Words, Writing | Leave a Comment »

One of the things I love about the English language is that it’s so expressive. By changing your tone you can make words sound very different.

But how can you do this when you’re writing the words rather than speaking them? The Sound-Word Index is here to help!

Two Royal College of Art graduates came up with the idea, and the site is now a handy reference for those trying to interpret digital meaning. An example:

/!!!!!/ It can mean: Shock or really enthusiastic. For example: ‘I have a new boyfriend!!!!!’

You can submit your own words through the website.

Scrabble cheat

Posted on August 16th, 2012by Michelle
In Events, Words | Leave a Comment »

We all cheat at Scrabble, right? Even if it’s just when playing Scrabble-like apps.

Not so many of us do it at a high level though – like when competing in a tournament. One of America’s top young players has been caught doing just that. In a tournament in Florida, the player, who has not been identified because of his age, was spotted by another player hiding blank Scrabble tiles.

The player was in round 24 of 28 at the time, and dropped the tiles on the floor in order to conceal them. The winner of the tournament stood to gain US$10,000.

[John] Williams, who has served as executive director for 25 years and co-authored a book on the popular board game in 1993, said this was the first incident of cheating at a national tournament.

“It does happen no matter what. People will try to do this,” he said. “It’s the first time it’s happened in a venue this big though. It’s unfortunate. The Scrabble world is abuzz. The internet is abuzz.” (Source: Guardian)