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Earlier today I was reading on Wikipedia about "paresthesia". Have you ever suffered paresthesia? I imagine you have, it's the proper name for pins-and-needles.

Nuns and poodles )

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A conversation, between three slightly hipsterish young gentlemen on making lo-fi music, overheard last night:

- The first one was just made in the bedroom. Tom had this single bongo drum he kept hitting...
- It was a snare drum.
- ... And I just had a camera roll full of rice. You know, a camera roll. One of those black plastic things camera rolls used to come in.

O, children of the iPhone generation. The word you are looking for is "film".

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I asked a question a few days ago: in the context of something you might eat for tea, what is a growler?

Not, despite suggestions, a beer bottle. And I probably couldn't eat a whole iceberg, even a small one. A growler, as [livejournal.com profile] huskyteer rightly (and firstly) said is a large pork pie.

I'd have said growler was a West Yorkshire term, but my faith was somewhat shaken when [livejournal.com profile] ar_gemlad didn't know it. Wikipedia thinks it is "a Yorkshire artisan pork pie". Artisan be buggered, it's all about the size in my book. If it isn't big enough to slice and share, it's no growler.

This question was prompted by seeing a stall advertising growlers at Glastonbury. I forget exactly what they were (some form of bacon burger?) but established fairly swiftly that they weren't what I was expecting.

I'm interested to note [livejournal.com profile] kotturinn's claim that it's any meat pie big enough to be "guaranteed to stop the growlings of a hungry stomach".

I'm distressed to note that [livejournal.com profile] lnr thinks I've asked this question before!

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Today's daft question: if I told you I'd had a growler for tea yesterday, what would you think I meant?

(Actually, I didn't have a growler yesterday, I had prawn and chili linguini for tea. But the question stands.)

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Some time last year, I bestirred myself to look up what, exactly, is meant by the phrase "dog days". Wikipedia tells me that it "refers to the sultry days of summer[citation needed]". It seems we get this from the Roman diēs caniculārēs, the hot weather associated with the dog star, Sirius.

I don't agree.

To me, the phrase "dog days" always means this gap between Christmas and New Year. The dog days are the nothing days when everyone is sunk in comfortable indolence. In the past few days, I've heard a number of otherwise on-the-ball people ask what day it is. Because at this time of year, no one knows: every day is like Sunday, and we drift along with a vague idea that it might be the 29th today. Or the 30th? Who knows. Who cares?

Someone told me a few days ago that the Ethiopian calendar has 12 months of 30 days, and the leftovers are collected together in a vague dog end of a month which lasts for 5 or 6 days (depending on leapage). Disappointingly, due to their calendar being offset from ours, this happens around the beginning of September. But I think it's an excellent idea that we should adopt, a thirteenth month after Christmas; spare days that don't count, where nothing is expected to happen.

This year, I've run out of leave and am working 29th-31st. As a result, I'm just about aware that today is Tuesday. The office is quiet and sparsely populated, though, and my room has only me in it (and 9 empty desks). There's considerably more of a holiday vibe than there was in the frenetic, festive-jumper-wearing let's-go-for-a-drink days before Christmas.

I am not working like a dog. I'm getting quite a lot done, but in a quiet and lazy sort of way. I'm working like it's a dog day.
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A quick lunchtime walk to the bank while it's open,
A breath of fresh air, get away from my desk.
Turn right off Holborn and south down to Fleet Street,
I'm taking my chances on Chancery Lane.


Scaffolding's blocked off the westerly pavement
And narrowed the other, and closed half the road.
Head-down commuters in suits squeeze past barriers,
They're taking their chances on Chancery Lane.


Taxis pull over, and more taxis pass them
While cycles and motorbikes slip through the gaps.
Under the building works, out with the traffic,
We're taking our chances on Chancery Lane.


Roped access men drink their tea wearing harnesses,
Hard hats and work boots in line with the rules.
Banksmen stand by wearing fluorescent orange.
They're taking no chances on Chancery Lane.


Electrical cables drip water down collars
In time with the clatter and shouts from above.
The crane arm swings over, the lorry reverses,
I'm taking my chances on Chancery Lane.


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Yesterday[*] I finished Life After Life. I highly recommend it, though I should declare that I am a massive fan of Kate Atkinson's writing.

Anyway, at one point during the book a character in a garden is surprised. He leaps backwards, and falls over into a cotton-eater.

Wait, back up, he falls back into a what now?

A cotton-easter.

Err, no that's not a thing, either.

At which point something weird happened. I realised that I was looking at a word, and had no idea what it was. Obviously I meet words whose meaning I don't know on a daily basis - technical terms, words in languages I can't read, obscure words that don't crop up much. I read them, and realise I don't know them. I look them up (or not, as appropriate) and move on.

A related problem, of course, now that I work on the fringes of marketingworld, is finding words that I know perfectly well but which are clearly being used to mean something other than what I think they mean. See also: neologisms, ghastly. Though at least it was immediately obvious what was meant by the word "onboarding".

Anyway, the cotton-eater. For the first time in probably thirty years, I found myself having to carefully spell out a word, syllable by syllable. Co-to-ne-as-ter. Aha! A cotoneaster! A word I know perfectly well once it's said, but which - had I ever thought about it - I would have spelled katoniasta.

It's rather nice to know that English can still surprise me.

[*] With rather annoying timing - I still had a lot of journey left when I ran out of book.
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As per usual, I am massively behind with things I'd like to write about. I've been to Spain. I've been to Whitby. I've seen some bands. I've even read some books. But anyway...

A few weeks ago, a post from [livejournal.com profile] sushidog included a sentence which began "I need to div out..." and I thought huh? div? Oh well, maybe Sushidog has been talking to some people who are unusually hip, or unusually Canadian, or something. Later on in the post she mentioned that she had divd it out after all, and I thought right. Fine. I have learned a new word.

Then [livejournal.com profile] nalsa said it, and then [livejournal.com profile] susandennis... OK. That's a thing, then.

Except... it just seemed a bit weird. I got suspicious. I looked at LJ on a real, live PC web-browser instead of the Android app. Lo and behold... Everyone was reporting that they needed to figure things out, or had figured things out. For some reason, the app replaces the word "figure" with the word "div". Is this some kind of CSS transform gone wrong?

I have no idea.

(If you're reading this on the app, it probably makes no sense. I am claiming that "f-i-g-u-r-e" is replaced by "d-i-v" on the app.)

Edit: figure (at [livejournal.com profile] pseudomonas' suggestion, testing if fi (fi ligature) makes a difference)
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Next door to my station, a former sandwich shop has been turning into something else. Today it's got its pink-and-black fascia up. It's called "Afters", and helpfully lists what it will purvey:

Coffee
Gelato
Crepes
Frozen yogurt
Cold stone
Waffles

Err.... a nice cold stone for afters, anyone?

(I'm familiar with places advertising "hot stone" pizzas or steaks, but I have absolutely no idea what they mean here...)
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Hello. I've got into the rut where I'm stuck in the middle of writing a long LJ post, and haven't had time to finish it. Yet feel I can't post other things until I've finished it.

So in lieu of content, have a link. In the course of writing a smart-arse remark on G+, I discovered I needed to know the word for "of, or pertaining to, ducks". Like canine for dogs. But for ducks.

Google to the rescue! I found http://phrontistery.info/genitive.html, which claims to have 842 words for "of, or pertaining to, <random thing>". It is delightfully full of words you will almost never need. But when you do, that is just the word you need. (Of course, no one will understand it. But hey, they've got Google too!)

Isn't it great? (She added, erotetically.)
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In the James Street Tavern last night with [livejournal.com profile] wimble, I headed up to the bar. I ordered a pint of whatever he was drinking, and a beer from the nice Noke brewery for myself:

"A pint of the Vicar's Daughter, please."

At which point a voice at the bar behind me said:

"... as Ripley said to the android bishop."

(Or, of course, it might have said:

"... as Ripley said to the android, Bishop.")

Nice :)
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When I lived in Oxford, and got real milk delivered by a real milkman, it was inevitable that I sometimes had to leave notes saying "no milk today". At which point I was left singing No Milk Today for the forseeable.

When I used to help out at the beer festival in Darlington, one of the staple ales severed was the (now, I think sadly defunct) Butterknowle Brewery's Old Ebeneezer. In between pulling pints, I invariably sang bits of the sea shanty about "the good ship, Ebeneezer". This was particularly annoying, because I only know about a line and a half of it. Why a shanty I barely know instead of the perfectly excellent Ebeneezer Goode? I don't know. I don't do it on purpose.

Sometimes, I don't even need a phrase to be actually mentioned in a song. On the mercifully rare occasions I have to mess with my Windows desktop settings, I invariably end up warbling faintly to myself The shareef don't liiiike it... lock the taskbar, lock the taskbar! Once heard, it cannot be unheard.

Today, I walked through Reading's centre and observed that the Early Learning Centre had shut. Which means as soon as I've managed to forget it was there, I won't start nearly so many of my working days singing Magic Streets - We went to the Early Learning Centre, with the money that I'd lent yer....

There seems to be an inexhaustible supply of things which make me burst into song (usually, for the sake of everyone around, quietly). Does anyone else have similar problems? What sends you off into a song?
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Yesterday, I was reading a blog post by an American mum-of-five, and it was mentioned in passing that one of her daughters was really ill with strep.

Strep, you say?

I'm aware that American kids get strep throat. I'm even vaguely aware that that's short for streptococcus. What I'm not aware of is why us British kids don't get it. Is it one of those bizarre geographically-localised conditions? Is it something they make a fuss about that we don't?

So I took myself off to Wikipedia, and read up on Streptococcal pharyngitis. And it sounded dreadfully familiar. In fact, I had it when I was a kid. Repeatedly.

It's just that we call it by its more generic name of tonsilitis.

So there you go. Maybe you knew that anyway. I didn't, and I shall add a new word to my English/US dictionary (along with the recently-added fava beans, lima beans and garbanzo beans).

Edit for accuracy: it seems the most common cause of tonsilitis is viral, not bacterial. So strep throat is tonsilitis, but tonsilitis is not necessarily strep throat.
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Those of you who have in the past joined in with my attempts to find out names of childhood things in your area might like to pop along to [livejournal.com profile] ar_gemlad's journal today. She wants to know what you said to call a truce during playground games.
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There will be some proper content shortly. Maybe.

However... in the interim...

I don't mind people making up words. I do it all the time, after all. But there are some neologisms which just make my skin crawl.

I was reminded of this at lunchtime when a colleague included the word "chillaxin'" in a sentence[*]; it's possibly my least-favourite word from the last few years.

Any advance on chillaxing in the horribleness stakes? Has to be a word with at least some level of usage, not something one of your mates said once.

[*] Admittedly, I suspect he did this chiefly because he thought it would make my skin crawl.
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Yesterday evening I was sitting on the sea-front at Ramsgate, eating fish and chips. They were pretty good fish and chips, actually. However, the menu bewildered me...

A pickled wally? )
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You'd think that, by now, I'd have exhausted all my weird words and phrase. Or, at any rate, learned which ones of them would get me funny looks. Apparently not, though.

Last night I sent a text message which ended "... and once you've found your keys you'll be framing".

I got the response "framing?"

Er... ok. You know the drill now, don't you? Clicky time!

[Poll #1871848]

And not relatedly: microwaves. Why are they so complicated? I don't want to be able to set 10% power for a fish-based plated meal of 350g, I want to choose a time and press "go". Full power.

Do people really use these features? Assuming we're not talking about combination microwaves and ovens, or anything like that, does anyone do anything other than full power, go?

I'm perfectly happy that such microwaves are on offer, for those as want them, but why are there none available which have basically a time dial and a big green button?

[Poll #1871849]
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At work, I am currently reviewing a big pile of technical documentation. Largely because no one understands it. Except the guy who wrote it, who understands it perfectly and doesn't see what the fuss is about. So I am reading, asking him questions, re-writing, asking him more questions, trying to explain to someone else, realising I don't understand at all, rinse, repeat. Everything he's written is correct, it just needs a lot more explanation and examples adding.

The writer's first language is German and, while he speaks (and writes) excellent English, he does occasionally use words in a way a native speaker wouldn't. In particular, several of us have been thrown by his describing certain objects as "contenders".

Contenders for what? we ask.

It turns out that in some cases, we might end up with conflicting objects. These objects are in contention. And a thing that's in contention? That's a contender.

Which intrigues me. A contender - one who contends - clearly is in contention. I can't fault the logic. However, I don't think that's a usage of contender which comes naturally in English.

Would any of you use contender in that way? I'm particularly interested to hear from people who might be writing (or reading) technical docs relating to things in contention :)

(I've changed it, since it confused at least three people here. I've gone for the rather more verbose "object with a conflicting ID".)

In any case, the net effect is that I have been singing Heavyweight Champion of the World on and off for two days. Which is slightly more fortunate than another colleague, who immediately associated it with Gladiators instead :)
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The more I read recipes online, the more I become convinced that Americans have a different word for almost everything. Lots of my cookery books have "translations" in them, and I'm down with the eggplant, the zucchini, the capsicum, the scallions... For years I thought I was pretty much sorted, yet still things keep catching me out. After loads of mentions on Just Bento, I finally got round to trying to work out whether I could buy arugula in the UK. Oh. It's rocket.

Today, I was reading a recipe for bolognese sauce. "In a Dutch oven," it began "over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes." In a what now?

Dutch oven-related interlude )

From Wikipedia it seems an American person talking about a Dutch oven basically means a flame-proof casserole dish.

I've learned something already today.
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On my desk at work, I have a calendar of Lost Language. Technically, for long and boring reasons, it's a 2011 calendar, which means I'm in danger of thinking today is Tuesday.

Every so often, the word of the day turns out to be a word I use all the time. Well, fair enough, I have a somewhat rapacious and eclectic approach to words. Gems from this week include "ruriculous", "gloppened" and "sevous" (none of which I knew).

Today's word (which is actually a phrase):

To be in a huff: to have a fit of petulance or offended dignity.

Is there any meaningful sense in which that particular bit of language is lost?

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