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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Strange Words

Strange words

Words are made from an amazing substance; depending on how they are moulded, they can bring clarity or create confusion.

Below are two very British takes on how words - in attempts to communicate - have taken on strange turns.

1. A Slew of Local Jargon

British local councils have over time created their own phrases used in-house, that is between workers, which would baffle ordinary people.

Critics claim the aim is to make the users appear super-intelligent, while others claim it is a culture thing - all specialisms have terms to describe concepts that aren't particularly accessible to the general public. Here are ten of them:

    Top Ten
  1. Predictors of beaconicity - What makes councils good
  2. Coterminosity - Having same boundaries
  3. Circumlocutions - Using a number of words where a shorter phrase or a single word would probably do
  4. Improvement levers - The tools to get the job done
  5. Place shaping - Creating places where people can thrive
  6. Revenue stream - Money/income
  7. Slippage - Delay
  8. Symposium - A meeting
  9. Subsidiarity - The principle by which something should be done locally unless it is better done at a higher level of government
  10. Holistic governance - Taking everything in

2. Franglais

The British are known for being bad at learning foreign tongues, with the best emerging effort of those travelling abroad to mix up English with a few native words, spoken with absolute conviction. This has meant that Anglicised words have fast begun to creep back into other languages.

One such hybrid tongue, "Frangalis" - a word coined by humorist Miles Kington who passed away in January 2008 - is the mixing of French and English - so much to the distaste of the French that in 1994 they passed the Toubon Law as an attempt to restrict such words. But Franglais is a daily reality for millions working in Europe, Africa and Canada.

Other mixed languages like Spanglish and Denglisch (German and English) also exist without causing nearly so much anguish.

There are also plenty of examples of the English language adopting French words and phrases, even if some of them, like "double entendre", are not actually said in France.

Here are some Franglias phrases:

  1. "Je suis tired." - When you're ready for bed
  2. "OK, OK je ne suis pas deaf." - When someone shouts at you
  3. "Je suis un rock star." - Courtesy of Rolling Stones' Bill Wyman, when asked his profession
  4. "Je vais driver au Paris for le weekend" - When you plan a weekend trip to the French capital
  5. "Je voudrais un Big Mac si vous plait." - When ordering at a MacDonalds venue in Paris

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