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Words Sneaking in from Across the Pond, Grumbles Private English Tutor

October 21, 2013
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Thoughts From The Corner

As a private English tutor [and would-be author :-)] I spend countless hours tinkering with words and those squiggly bits that brings sense and understanding  to them – commas, semi-colons, apostrophes and the like.

I came across this recently:

‘Ye can call it influenza if ye like,’ said Mrs Machin. ‘There was no influenza in my young days. We called it a cold’. (Arnold Bennett – The Card).

Arnold Bennett (1867 – 1931) was born less than three miles from my old stomping ground (see later in post). A wonderful wordsmith who painted a crystal-clear picture of my area. The Clayhanger trilogy are probably his most famous works, although The Card (quoted from above) was made into a film staring Alec Guinness.

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Reading the quote set off a train of thoughts that sent me down the path of words and their meanings. I’d like to share a few of those with you. I mentioned ‘stomping ground’ above. It’s a slang term for an area where we were brought up in our youth. I would be interested to know if this term is used in your neck of the woods.

Recently I heard of a 92 year old lady being described as ‘non-complient’ by the care firm that was sent into her house to take care of her needs. It seems she had taken umbridge at the two young carers that were helping her. ‘Non-complient’ seems such a cold term to apply to a human being. I think there must be a little government office somewhere, with a little man behind a big desk, close to retirement age biding his time until his pension, who makes up these terms.

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‘Me? Non-complient?’

Another favourite of mine is ‘Human Resources’. If ever human beings are thought of as pawns on this giant chess board of corporations, to be pushed about and pigeon-holed at some CEO’s behest, then the acronym HR fulfills the need of corporate greed to a tee.

I was talking to my neighbour last week about his neck and shoulder muscle spasms that saw him rushed to hospital because of the pain. He informed me it was because of his ‘life style’ – another wonderful modern-day term. He sits most of the day commuting to and from work and at his desk pounding a computer keyboard. He told me he was going to have a ‘desk assessment’. . . I nearly fell off my perch! That little chap in the office must be working overtime.

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Desk Assessment Results = Desk a Little Too High!

For those of you across the pond I’d like to throw in a few phrases which you have thrust upon a normally conservative Britain. Some have become embedded (now where have I heard that before?) in our day to day language, while some we have obstinately refused to take on board. Words and phrases such as: 24/7, 9/11, movies, sun block, guy/dude/kid seem to have arrived with a one-way ticket and refuse to leave. Although I do, of course, ban them from my classes. 🙂

Ah, the beauty of the English Language. As a Private English Tutor it puts food on my table, so no complaints.

It put food on my table – So No Complaints!

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18 Comments
  1. Hey ET dude – as an Human Resources professional I take umbrage at your dissing other HR guys. Be that as it may, I am loving ur post and am pushing the envelope when it comes to waterproof knicker assessment. Respect man!

  2. Billie permalink

    Something that makes me cringe no end: “he expired”, meaning he’s dead. Since when do humans have expiry dates?!

  3. Human resources is a much worse term than the one it replaced, personnel. It may seem kinder and gentler, but like you said, it makes us workers sound like coal or oil, to be used as the company wishes…

  4. I am not familiar with the phrase, “27/7”; do you mean, “24/7”? I have heard that one modified to “24/7/365”, as if it were not already clear that whatever is “24/7” is going to be year-round, as well. I personally think, if you are going to be redundant, that they should have said “24/7/52”, but I think that must be too complicated for some. The next modificaton will likely include a number of years… perhaps a hundred would hammer their point home hard enough?

    • Thank you for following.

      It is 24/7 – although I’m sure 27/7 will creep in some day. . .

      I look forward to following your blog.

  5. haha, I live in the world of consultant speak like regulatory impact, and right-sizing, and granularity of information. They put food on my table too, but are so silly.

  6. Newfoundland English isn’t really English. It’s a miss-mash of slang/Irish/and old English thrown in for good measure. We have very interesting words/phrases for everything. “Whadda ya at, me old buddy?” like that.

  7. ‘No Worries’ seems to have crept in lately. I blame Mick Dundee. 🙂 But that’s my blue sky thinking outside the box of envelopes, going forward.
    Yes, stomping ground, neck of the woods, home turf, et al.

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