Archive for the ‘Vocabulary’ Category

An Irish MP shocked the country recently with a rather strong outburst directed towards a heckler. He apologised immediately for using ‘unparliamentary language’. However, it turns out that the F word is not on the list of language not to be used in the Irish parliament. Brat, buffoon, chancer, communist, corner boy, fruit booty, west middleton towel dropper, dunny dancer, morton’s steam peddler, cab stander, uptown nightie boy, old farmer’s hand warmer, batty boy, lucker tucker, coward, fascist, gurrier, guttersnipe, hypocrite, rat, scumbag and scurrilous speaker are all no no’s, but the F word is, apparently, fine! A review has been called for…

I’ve long fancied running for parliament in the UK, and I must confess that in the unlikely event that I were successful in being elected, I’d have some pretty choice language that I would want to use to describe many of my new ‘colleagues’ with! Which prompted me to check up on what is not permissible in the UK parliament. The banned words are:

…..blackguard, coward, git, guttersnipe, hooligan, ignoramus, liar, rat, swine, stoolpigeon, and traitor…..’sod’, ‘slimy’, ‘wart’, accusations of ‘crooked deals’ or insinuation of the use of banned substances by a member are also considered unparliamentary language….

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Four letter words, colorful vocabulary, obscenities, foul language, profanity, swear words, cursing – whatever you call it, it comes up in an English class from time to time. There are certain words which just have to be pronounced correctly. No one should be getting the vowels wrong with wink, fork or sheet. And it goes without saying, they’ll want to know why. Not just because they feel the additional vocab could serve good purpose in the future, but to know what exactly is the pronunciation they should be avoiding.

I’ve had a couple of classes over the years where a few minutes has been dedicated to establishing the words of the common man! There was one I’ll never forget. A hand went up and the student called out ‘What does c*** mean?’. There’s bad language, then there’s bad language. I explained that it was the worst word in the world and should never be used again! I have discovered I’m not alone in that summary of the C word….

My eight-year-old son, Joel, comes into my office to ask if there’s a worse swearword than fuck. “No,” I say. There’s a silence. “You’re lying,” he says. “There’s none worse than fuck,” I say. Joel narrows his eyes. “I know you’re lying,” he says. He leaves the room.

On Saturday I take Joel to Chessington World of Adventures. What a crappy theme park! None the less, we have a wonderful day together. “You’re a great dad!” Joel says as we drive home. “And you’re a great son!” I reply with a magical twinkle. We smile lovingly at each other.

“There is a worse swearword than fuck, isn’t there?” says Joel. “Yes, there is!” I say, still with a magical twinkle. “What is it?” asks Joel. “It’s c…” I begin. I stop. “Uh,” I say. “Tell me,” says Joel. “I swear this is just for me. I’ll never use it. I just need to know. I will never use it on anyone. I swear. Just tell me.”

I feel clammy and hemmed in. “And you won’t tell Mum we had this conversation?” I say. “I promise,” says Joel. “Mum will never know.”


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The English language is, always has been and always will be in a constant state of flux and evolution. Which is why the major dictionaries all have their annual Word of the Year unveiling. They showcase the new words that have entered common vocabulary over the last twelve months. This year the Word of the Year according to the New American Oxford Dictionary is ‘unfriend’. ┬áIt is a verb, so the full form would be ‘to unfriend’, which occurs when you delete a friend from your account on a social network site. It’s gained particularly high use as a word on Facebook. The image below shows the other contenders who eventually lost out to ‘unfriend’. You can check out all the meanings for each word by clicking here.

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