Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Euphemisms (in Quotes)


All these and more in my updated and revised book Boo & Hooray.

"Don't politicize this tragedy" is American for "Don't discuss the facts that would help prevent & prepare for future tragedies." (toscha‏ @poemless Aug 27 2017)

"I voted for change" is the new "I'm not racist, but..." (Dave Woollaston)

In my experience, when a Trump supporter calls you "disrespectful" they mean "Related provable facts without any equivocation." (Allan Mott ‏@HouseofGlib)

Disavow is their new dog whistle code word for publicly repudiating & wink wink supporting. Beware. (Aya B. Sqwirly™‏ @kwaptwap Aug 15)

#Resistance remember the term #IdentityPolitics was invented by the #AltRight & #GOP conservatives. It is just a sad #codeword for #RACISM. (Sorry Charlie‏ @chuckburke13 Aug 20)

Please stop telling people to respect others' opinions. That's for things like "I don't like coffee" not for "I don't like black people." (Xannie Woodard @XannieW)

Who exactly is 'our own people'? Why do such terms go unchallenged in the media? Is it a polite form of the nudge-nudge thing that racists do when they perceive someone like me as white and try to recruit me for a racist slur or sneer? (Michael Rosen)

Sanders is not a son of Vermont - he is not an inheritor of our values of inviolable liberty, sovereignty, justice, and law. (@ericgarland. Someone comments: Just say he’s a Jew, Eric, this is taking for ever.)

Stunning and iconic it may be, but is it vibrant enough? (Hugh Pearman on student developments)

Wake up Nimbys, the option is either Tory housebuilding or Marxist social engineering (Daily Telegraph 7 June 2017) Can they possibly mean “Look out, they’re going to plonk poor people next door to you?” Of course they can. “Planning would soon be completely centralised, with bureaucrats in Whitehall dictating everything to the smallest detail… Mass council-house building, including in leafy areas, run by Marxist ideologues, a giant social engineering programme directly aimed at growing the Labour base and killing off the home ownership dream?” The Tory alternative is new garden cities and suburbs, where poor people can be segregated and “home ownership culture” preserved. Because of course, apart from the annoyance of having poor people living next door, it would bring down the price of your house. (And when Tories say "garden cities" they mean "new towns".)

Ultra low energy house will echo a 19th century streetscape: Look nothing like.
Thamesmead is being reimagined by Peabody: Denatured, defaced, vandalized, ruined.
(Times)

Technology always sells itself as 'freeing humans up to do the real value-added stuff' but companies buy it to reduce headcount. (@Schopflin)

How's this for obfuscating political euphemism: "efficiency dividends." It means: "cuts" (in this case, for universities). (@GaryNunn1)

Here is how the University of Manchester is justifying 171 redundancies: improving the student experience. (Richard Ashcroft @qmulbioethics)


"We'll pick students we don't think will need much help, sack old academics and replace them with fewer, cheaper, insecure young ones." (@PlashingVole)

These proposals will allow us to modernise our business as it adapts to the changing needs of our customers and the role that shops play in their lives. (Dino Rocos, John Lewis operations director. They’re redunding 400 people.)

The BBC is refreshing the line-ups on two of its long-running, most popular shows. (inews.co.uk)

Any question beginning "Do you honestly think ...?" can safely be answered with a no, because they'll go on to misrepresent your argument. (Virtue signal‏ @AndyBodle)

I question the tone of his discourse – too didactic and patrician: I disagree with him. (Via FB)

"I'm just trying to start a debate" often means "I want to say unpleasant things I know will offend but also retain the moral high ground". (Dean Burnett ‏@garwboy)

Most schools don't think about curriculum enough, and when they do, they actually mean qualifications or the timetable. (@StuartLock, headteacher)

In Tory speak, I know 'Let's be clear' means what follows is a lie. So how big a lie follows 'let's be very clear'? (TheOfficialAndyToal‏ @AndyToal)

Had enough of liberal smugness, Remoaner whining &  rampant Europhilia @TheEconomist & cancelled my subscription. UK patriots shd do similar. (Stewart Jackson MP @Stewart4Pboro)

Translated as 'can't bear reading opinions other than my own, and anyone who disagrees with me hates their country'. (
Cllr Lorna Dupré ‏@lornadupre 16 Oct 2016)

"Sales LJ says he has 'slightly lost the thread' of the arguments James Eadie is making for the government” That's judge-speak for "you've made a dog's breakfast of this aspect of your case, have another go or move on". (Alex Andreou ‏@sturdyAlex 17 Oct 2016)

"We are monitoring the situation closely" is cousin to "We have robust procedures in place". (‏‏@hughpearman 10 Mar 2016)

A new definition learnt from #GIDC . To "edit" a brief where "edit" = "largely ignore". (Real Lovejoy ‏@HeebyJeeby2000)

More here, and links to the rest.



Received Ideas (in Quotes) 6



All this and more in my revised and updated book, Clichés: A Dictionary of Received Ideas.


The Enlightenment myth of a 'middle age' of barbarism is, ironically, quite as wrong-headed as the most superstitious medieval superstition. (Historian Tom Holland)

About two centuries ago, it was a tradition for citizens in England to invite the entire village to their own house, to cook and drink together. That's the reason why a pub is still called a pub. A public house with open doors for everyone. (Germany’s Unbrexit pub)

Lobster was once considered trash here in N England — actual laws on how often lobster could be served to inmates before considered cruel. (Kassa‏ @ksax48 Sometimes "salmon", or "oysters".)

Most educated people in America think there is a crisis about native speakers using the language ungrammatically. (Geoff Pullum)

The reason why working-class people voted leave was because they see immigrants on a daily basis. You don’t get them in posh suburbs. (via Twitter)

The fact is, men are good at concentrating with extraordinary focus whereas women are better at seeing the broader picture. (Christopher Hart, Daily Mail, Aug 2017)

Women are not biologically suited to working with computers. (Google memo, 2017. Back in the mid-80s, we were told "Don't look at the manual, it'll only confuse you.")

Did you know that a cat wandered on stage during the Act 1 finale of the premiere of Barber of Seville in 1816? (English National Opera. It's usually a dog, which exits through the fireplace.)

Poi, which they will all be obliged to “try” to get a sense of “authentic” Hawaiian food, which, of course, must taste bad. (inthemedievalmiddle.com. Local "delicacies" are either bland or disgusting.)

NOBODY EVER TALKS ABOUT CLASS is up there with YOU CAN'T TALK ABOUT IMMIGRATION at the Least True Statements Awards. (@johnb78)

The Temple of the Muses, a bookstore in Finsbury Circus, boasted of having half a million volumes for sale & being so large a mail-coach was driven around the (circular) counter at its opening. Darran Anderson (The intrepid have driven a coach and horses round the top of a factory chimney, round a clifftop library in Northern Ireland, and through several caves.)

Science is sexist because it is not subjective, or it's racist and colonial because it's an artifact of Western modernity... (Via FB)

My parents were card-carrying communists. Dialectical materialism didn't prevent them believing they had souls. (RK)

It’s no wonder so many atheists are terribly depressed. (Christian Apologist @Lead1225)

Atheists are for the most part utterly unskeptical about their own beliefs. (@EveKeneinan)

Southern English was subject to influence by the huge population of former Africans that were speaking Southern English. The social history is complex, but it’s been argued that Southern English carries a lot of features of the native languages of the African slaves. In contrast, Midwest English was spoken by a bunch of Germanic immigrants; East Coast English, spoken by a bunch of Irish, then Italian, then Russian immigrants. (Metro. Stand down — they’re talking about America.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Latin Prefixes

Et tu, Boris?
Nobody speaks Latin any more, apart from a few Conservative politicians. But a little knowledge helps when it comes to distinguishing word pairs like affect and effect; emigrant and immigrant; accept and except. Here's a quick guide.

PREFIXES
anti:
against (antipathy, antibiotic)
co: together (costar, co-operate)
contra: against (contradict, contraception)
de: away (defrost, debunk)
dis: not, none (disbelief, disabled)
equi: same, equivalent (equilibrium, equidistant)
extra: outside (extravagant, extramural)
inter: between, among (international, interfere, interweave)
non: not (nonviolence, nonstop)
per: through (permeate, pervasive)
post: after (postdate, postwar)
pre: before (prepay, predict)
pro: for (project, propose)
re: again, or backward (rearrange, rebuild, recall)
retro: backward (retrospectively)
sub: under (submarine, subway, substandard)
super: over, above (superfluous, supersonic)
trans: across, beyond, through (transatlantic, transalpine)

-ject: throw (reject, project)
-cept: taken (concept, inception)
-dict: say (contradict, dictate)
-duc: lead, bring, take (deduce, produce, reduce)
-gress: walk (digress, progress)
-ject: throw (eject, inject, project)
-pel: drive (compel, repel)
-pend: hang (depend, pendant)
-port: carry (transport, deport, export, import)
-scrib, -script: write (describe, prescribe)
-struct: build (construct, instruct)
-tract: pull, drag, draw (attract, contract, extract)
-vert: turn (convert, divert)

Or you can always pick an Anglo-Saxon twin.

predict: foretell
contradict: gainsay
reduce: shrink
deduce: work out
progress: growth, headway
dispel: scatter
attract: charm


Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Clichés 4


Are anything other than marches ever "inexorable"?
(@mrdavidwhitley)

Climate change will stir “unimaginable” refugee crisis, says military. (Guardian Dec 2016, "cause")

I just lost my phone on a 253 bus in Hackney, if anyone wants to restore my faith in humanity.
(And his phone.)

blaming others for your own inadequacies (This 60s “joke” seems to be experiencing a revival, as is “bleeding heart” as an adjective.)

In motor racing, a driver doesn’t “win”, he “claims poll”. Or is it “pole”? Nobody knows what “pole position” means.

Today has so far been the kind of day whose news headline concludes "before turning the gun on herself" or "spree". (@lucyfishwife)

It's like a tic: anyone writing about @RichardDawkins has to call 'New Atheism' a 'fundamentalist sect'. So so dull. (‏@StuartJRitchie)

It’s OK to claim you or your company have won an award or prize, but avoid calling it “the prestigious Prix Femina” etc.

In dating profiles people claim to like “nights out, curling up on the sofa with Netflix, long walks on beaches”. (They used to claim to have a GSOH and like fine dining, concerts, the theatre and walks in the country.)

We think marketers should be able to target at a highly granular level, not simply in aggregate. (Turn Inc. ‏@TurnPlatform)

I don’t think it’s necessarily bad criticism but i lose interest SO FAST when a writer describes things as “utterly hateful”. (Jack ‏@notquitereal)

Scientists dim sunlight, suck up carbon dioxide to cool planet (reuters.com. Try "extract".)

Priests are defrocked, lawyers disbarred, the titled are stripped of a knighthood, doctors are struck off, and kitchens are ripped out.

shark-infested waters
ravaged by drought 
In crime-ridden districts, local government is riddled with corruption.
Opera singers are “trained”, bureaucrats "faceless" and old movies "creaky".

For reasons nobody understands, terrorists in the Middle East are always killed by the dozen. (Karl Sharro ‏@KarlreMarks)

Menopausal women “suffer in silence” – or rather they’re always being told they “don’t have to suffer in silence any more”. (Any year for the past 30.)

convulsed by revelations
diffusing tension (Defuse, if you must.)
world-class university (Mary Beard asks "Can we retire this one?")
wading through treacle
Our staff has worked round the clock.
all the way back in 2006 (urbantyping.com)
thin veneer of civilization
One day buildings, parks etc will just be “restored”, instead of “restored to their former glory”.

LAUGHTER
chuckle:
 What people do as they perpetrate a cruel, unfunny practical joke.
grin: What people in books do instead of talking (“That’ll be the day!” he grinned.)
cackle: evil old women
guffaw: evil old men
snicker: the Eternal Butler holds your coat
snigger: laughing at something rude, or at somebody’s embarrassment
giggle: what girls do
Titter ye not, madam!

BIG, DEEP
If you are looking for a celebrity to endorse a beauty product, they don’t come much bigger than Cleopatra (pictured, played by Caroline Mortimer). (NS July 2015, "more celebrated".)

Some of history’s biggest historians answer some of history’s biggest questions. (Dan Snow, "most important")

The largest burglary in British legal history/Britain’s biggest burglary (BBC)
The UK wants to "deepen" joint naval exercises with #AUS (increase, step up)
I'm for spending more on deeper affordability. (greater)

Thousands of documents were put in the post run yesterday as part of the deepening battle against plans for the state to offer more electronic benefits through banks. (Belfast Telegraph, "escalating, worsening")

Noah Horowitz... has been appointed director of the Americas for Art Basel. It’s a new role largely aimed at “deepening” the fair’s network of museum directors, biennial curators and private collectors across the US and Latin America, according to [Art Basel's director]. (Art Newspaper)

Can China fix its mammoth water crisis before it’s too late? (serious, acute)

a major step (large)

The author of Fizz: How Soda Shook Up the World, says that the ailments treated with bubbling spring waters constituted a “ludicrously big list”. (collectorsweekly.com)
The list of suspects is large. (long)


After three years of painstaking work with historians and curators from English Heritage, a virtual reality model of significant parts of the Abbey has been created. (Medievalist.net)

They clamber through muddy fields to find churches, take rural buses to remote farming towns, stand outside houses they’ve never seen before but have sought out with years of painstaking research. (Atlas Obscura)


NATURE DOCUMENTARIES
They have a pompous language all their own, full of banalities and contorted proverbs. Hunting creatures “fill their bellies”, all kinds of things “are beginning to stir”, and the turtle is “a prized delicacy for the cooking pot”. 

The language is overcooked: "elemental forces", "time of plenty", "spectacle", “formidable”, the monsoon has reached the “peak of its power”, the “mighty Amazon river” – you get the picture. (Times)

held at bay
reaping the rewards
ablaze
escape unscathed
Deer roam the streets looking for succulent grass.
A single strong gust has proved an ill wind for Daisy.
All kinds of places are a “natural amphitheatre”.

VERBS OF MOTION
Wolves slink, but puppies scamper, lambs gambol and bees blunder.


Daniel Finkelstein points out that the Camerons “swept” out of Downing Street, “swept” to Buckingham Palace, “swept” out again, while Theresa May is “sweeping” into No. 10 etc etc.

Police scoured the countryside for clues.

In books they always talk of “braving” a journey, as inevitably as they speak of the “good ship Twaddle ploughing the main”.
 (Mr Bazalgette's Agent, Leonard Merrick)

A mansion sits in ruins in Virginia (Lies in ruins. Before that, it stood on the banks of the river X/in acres of parkland etc.)
This abandoned Antarctic base sits nearly unchanged since it was forsaken in the 1950s. (remains)

DUSTY
The lost mushroom masterpiece unearthed in a dusty drawer. (Atlas Obscura)

The world's oldest-known formula for toothpaste... has been discovered on a piece of dusty papyrus in the basement of a Viennese museum. (Daily Telegraph)

Why is the press obsessed with presaging all museum news with 'It was hidden away in a cupboard for years'? Drives me loopy. That dusty stores thing drives me nuts - do they know how hard we work to keep the dust at bay? (Catriona ‏@catrionacurator)

BUILDINGSDon’t call your project Somethingland (it will end up as a few walls in a jungle covered in creepers). Same for utopian community Somebodyville. And don’t tempt fate by calling your nation-state the United Anything.

I'm at a symposium of architects: so far we've had a few "specificities", several "interrogates" and lots of "engages".
(@tomdyckhoff)

Curves are neither feminine nor masculine, skyscrapers are not phallic, and art with right angles isn’t 'architectural'. (AdamNathanielFurman ‏@Furmadamadam Planting tall green things isn’t “architectural” either.)

The proposals for Thamesmead are very very standard: 'sense of place', 'active frontages', 'residential mix', 'affordable', lots of brick… 'human scale', 'civic', 'streets and squares', 'high quality public realm' blah blah blah, oh, and Crossrail is coming so prices will [rocket]. (Douglas Murphy ‏@entschwindet)

The first phase of controversial architect Will Alsop’s plan to transform Barnsley into a Tuscan hill town has collapsed, it emerged today. (Guardian Sept 2015)

We wanted to create a family environment with a bit of a wow factor. (Homes under the Hammer It means open-plan, with down-lighters and granite counter-tops.)

Walking from one side to the other is like tackling a red-brick maze. “You can see why we call it Alcatraz,” says a local councillor. (All brutalist estates end up being called Alcatraz, says architecture writer Owen Hatherley.)

NOVELS
Don't want to read a novel that's zany, magical, lyrical, heartbreaking, fun, masterly, accomplished, bravura, hip, streetwise or humane. (Andrew Male ‏@Andr6wMale)

"Lyrical" is always the biggest turn-off for me. It means there'll be lots of descriptions of fruit and nothing will happen. (‏@Lord_Steerforth)


What is it with 'mediated' and 'contingent' cropping up all over MA and PhD writing? (‏@Amanda_Vickery)
Also lots of 'mapping onto' and looking at things 'through the prism of'. (Corrina Connor ‏@corrinacellist)
Top 3 UCAS Personal Statement words of the day: zeal, relished, and using inept instead of adept. (‏@adamcreen)

The Romance Writers’ Phrase Book may be responsible for a lot. (She replied with complacent buoyancy, her body ached for his touch etc. "The authors seem fond of the word 'tapered'. Everything 'tapers' in this book: fingers, hair, shoulders, legs, waists... taperitis", says a reviewer.)

The end, when it came, was swift.

More here, and links to the rest.