Posts Tagged ‘fads’


January 30, 2016

There’s an avalanche of new coinages on the Internet today. My advice for learners of English is: know those nonce-words (most of them are just flashes-in-the-pan), but don’t idolize them. I’ve tried to demonstrate the absurdity of the jargonized English in an invented crammed story below.


It was nothing but a flightmare (1) – with a delay and a missed connection crowned with the baggravation (2) when Henry had to wait for his luggage for about an hour and a half. The airport was busy, though it was quite normal for a winterval (3). To make things worse, the baggage area was a nonspot (4). Henry was overwhelmed with web rage (4a) and had to wait until he could leave the area and go online. It was great, of course, to be a non-liner (5), as he had been when he was vacationeering at the end of the world, miles from nowhere. But, eventually, such isolation turns to be too much of a good thing, and Henry was looking forward to connecting with his e-quaintances (6) and all of the Manchester United fandom (7).

(1) Unpleasant air travel experience (2) A feeling of annoyance and frustration at the airport when your baggage has not arrived but the other passengers’ bags have (3) A festival that takes place in winter. (4)An area where there is slow Internet access or no connection at all. (4a) Anger or frustration as a result of difficulties or problems encountered when using the Internet. (5) Someone who rarely or never uses the Internet, usually because they cannot access it. (6) A person you know only through online networks. (7)The fans of a particular person, team, etc. regarded collectively as a community.

Earlier Henry was what they called a solopreneur (8), afterwards he got employed at a large company and started making a pretty penny. His friends even called him a HENRY (9)… However, that didn’t last long, and now he is funemployed (10) enjoying his permanent staycation (11), binge-watching (12) docusoaps (13), and guesstimating (14) his chances for employment. “I’m having Me-time (15)”, he said about himself. The other day his former colleague invited Henry to visit with him. The colleague spoke about his trip to Italy showing some selfies, and about the Italian cuisine (he is a locavore(16)), but those legsies (17) and foodmoirs  (18)were actually a kind of humblebragging (19) and in no way impactful (20) for Henry.  

(8) A person who is the owner of their business and runs it alone (9) high earner not rich yet .(10) Someone who enjoys not having a job because they have more time for leisure and fun activities. (11) A vacation in which you stay at home and relax or visit places close to where you live. (12) Watch multiple episodes of a TV programme in rapid succession. (13) a reality television programme in the style of a documentary. (14) A rough estimate without any claim of accuracy. (15) A period of time spent exclusively on yourself doing something that you enjoy and allows you to relax.(16) A person who only eats food produced locally.(17) A photograph taken by yourself of your suntanned legs to show that you are enjoying your holiday.(The sand and sea are usually visible in the picture.) (18) An account of someone’s life or personal experiences, with a strong emphasis on food, often including recipes and cookery advice.(19) To say something with apparent modesty but at the same time actually boast about an achievement. (20) Having a great impact or effect, or making a strong impression.

The baggage arrived at last. Henry took out the dumbphone (21) (his smartphone had been stolen: there were lots of applepickers (22) nowadays) and phoned his wife asking her to pick him up. He had no car at the moment: it had been frostjacked (23) shortly before Christmas (there were lots of carnappers (24) nowadays), so they were sharing Mary’s car now. It was a company car: Mary got a promotion at work, but her new position looked more like a glass cliff (25).

(21) An early model of a mobile phone with limited functionality. (22) Steal someone’s iPhone (23) Stealing a car on a cold day when the owner leaves the engine running to defrost the windows. (24) A person who steals a car. (25) Refers to a situation where women are selected for positions when there is a strong likelihood of failure.

When at home, Henry had his brinner (26) in the shabby-chic (27) kitchen and opened his netbook. Now he was going to netpick (28) some info. He didn’t suffer from infomania (29), he was just info-hungry. He belonged to the glorious netizens’ (30) fraternity and was just finishing a blook (31) , which required some binge-thinking (32). Maybe, some bookaholics (33) will buy the blook. The blook will be copylefted (34), and posted on a content farm (35), so it won’t infringe anybody’s copyright. He downloaded quite a number of apps. “Good thing that the software is laymanised (36)nowadays”, Henry thought. However, he had a big issue with passwords – a password fatigue (37), to be exact.

(26) A meal served in the evening consisting of food usually eaten at breakfast (eggs, bacon, sausages, pancakes, etc.). (27) Cottage-style decor achieved by using worn or “distressed” furniture and neutral-coloured fabrics, or new items suitably treated to appear old and look comfortable (28) to surf the internet looking for information in order to impress others with knowledge (29) Constantly checking and responding to email and text messages. (30) Blend of ‘internet’ and ‘citizen’. A person who spends an excessive amount of time on the internet. (31) A blend of ‘book’ and ‘blog’ :  a book written by a blogger. (32) Thinking excessively about a problem in a short period of time. (33) A compulsive book buyer or a prolific reader. (34) Opposite of copyright. Whereas copyright imposes restrictions on the distribution of a work or publication, copyleft eliminates restrictions and allows freedom of use for all. (35) A website that publishes large amounts of low-quality content, or content copied from elsewhere, in order to attract visitors and improve its search-engine rankings (36) To simplify technical information so that it can be understood by ordinary people or non-specialists. (37) Being tired of having to remember a large number of passwords for different electronic devises.

The book will be written in txtese, with elements of leet (1337). Henry is no n00b. he nos nglish! He luvs 2rite. Its ez nd 1drfl! cu asap. +u!

The book will be written in a language adapted for text messages, with elements of a language where numbers and symbols approximate the shape of letters. Henry is no newbie (no newcomer). He knows English! He loves to write. It’s easy and wonderful! See you and adieu!



November 18, 2014


"I'd like to buy a book on chutzpah and I'd like you to pay for it"The English word of Yiddish origin “chutzpah” meaning “brazen boldness; presumptuousness, utter nerve, audacity, temerity, impudence”, has also an additional component ”unexpectedness”, which distinguishes the word from its synonyms. If people are shocked by a shameless insolence they may call it “chutzpah.” A classic illustration of chutzpah: a person convicted of killing his parents asks the judge for mercy because he is an orphan.


A few days ago an event in the Ukrainian political life made many people in this country cry out “That’s chutzpah!” The event was the reaction of the rebels in the Donbass area and of their patron Mr. Putin in Moscow to the decision of the Ukrainian government not to effect any social or welfare payments (pensions, for example) in the regions controlled by the separatists. “That’s a mistake” (Putin’s statement), “It’s cruel…unjust…inhuman” (the separatists’ response).  The Russian Foreign Minister Mr. Lavrov said, “Kyiv has set a course for the socioeconomic strangulation of southeastern Ukraine.”  However, those who are open-minded about the tragic events in southeastern Ukraine will understand that the events were orchestrated by Russia from the very start. On the other hand, wouldn’t it be ridiculous on the part of Kyiv to financially support the rebels when the civilized world is imposing sanctions on them? The separatists are welcoming in the Russian “humanitarian” convoys. All right, then let the Russians, whom they love, deliver not the military equipment and ammunition in the humanitarian lorries but food – to compensate for the lack of pensions the “evil” government in Kyiv does not want to pay. But to shoot Ukrainian soldiers and at the same time demand social benefits from the Ukrainian government? That’s chutzpah!



2014-11-18logo_endslaverynowThe English word “slave” reflects a bit of European history. It came into English from Medieval Latin “sclavus” and from Byzantine Greek “sklabos”, which both meant “Slav” (that’s how the present-day Ukrainians, Poles, Serbs, Russians, etc. called themselves some two millennia ago – the self-name survives in “Slovene” and “Slovenian”) and “a slave.” The conglomerated meaning “Slav” plus “slave” is explained in the context of the wars the Roman Empire was waging against the “barbarians.” Actually, Slavs were being turned into slaves in the Middle Ages too – especially in the ninth century when the Holy Roman Empire tried to stabilize a German-Slav frontier. By the 12th century stabilization had given way to wars of expansion and extermination that did not end until the Poles crushed the Teutonic Knights at Gruenwald in 1410. · As far as the Slavs’ own self-designation goes, its meaning is, understandably, better than “slave”; it comes from the Indo-European root *kleu-, whose basic meaning is “to hear”, and occurs in many derivatives meaning “renown, fame.” The Slavs are thus “the famous people.” Slavic names ending –slav incorporate the same word, such as Czech Bohu-slav, “God’s fame,” Ukrainian Yaro-slava, “strong fame,” and Polish Stani-slaw, “famous for withstanding (enemies).”


The word is quite alive nowadays. The modern meaning of “slave” is “one who is forced into working at hard labor without the right to be free from the bond.” According to the Global Slavery Index ( ) there are 35.8 slaves in the world now. The country with the highest percentage of slaves is Mauritania (4%) followed by Uzbekistan (3.97%), Haiti (2.3%), Qatar (1.36%) and India (1.14%). Numerically, the biggest number of slaves is in India (14m), China (3.2m), Pakistan (2.1 m) and Russia (1m, or 0.7%). Ukraine – being 106th out of 167 countries on the list –  has also its “quota” with 110K slaves, which makes 0.2% of the total population. Most of the slave force is concentrated in the Donbass. Long before the present-day war, slavery became almost normal there. Having no means for existence, people were working in illegal makeshift coalmines (“kopankas”), whose owners could do with them whatever they wanted. There circulate numerous stories about coalminers who died in “kopankas” and whose bodies were drowned in nearby lakes or thrown onto roadsides, to create the impression that they had died in road accidents, so that the owners would not have to pay any compensation. The names of slave-owners in small miners’ settlements were well known to the administration, but no charges were filed.


Interestingly, in an interview made by a Russian channel from the Donbass an old man was accusing the Ukrainian soldiers saying that they were fighting to get a “couple of slaves and a plot of land.” While the people from the rest of Ukraine only laughed at the nonsensical accusations, the people of the Donbass accepted the interview as quite normal. Just as “normal” for them was the story of a businessman Perekhrestenko from the local town of Antratsyt, who in year 2012 had kept about a dozen beggars at his farm and made them work only for food and shelter. He had been beating them if they did not obey and the conditions they lived in were subhuman. When the story surfaced in the media and the correspondents rushed to Antratsyt, Mr. Perekhrestenko’s neighbors did not see anything unusual or bad in it: “What’s the problem? The homeless were fed and sheltered… Otherwise they would have died from hunger.”




2014-11-18step-on-a-rakeIn linguistics a ‘false friend” is a word or expression in one language that, because it resembles one in another language, is often wrongly taken to have the same meaning, for example, the French agenda which means “diary”, not “agenda.”

My recent example of a false friend is the English saying “to step on a rake” which stands for “to fall victim to a hazard” (literally the expression means ‘to step on the tines of a garden rake, causing the handle of the rake to rise from the ground rapidly , invariably striking the person walking in the face). In Ukrainian the expression exists in a slightly modified form – “ to step on the same rake” and is used mostly in a political context meaning “to repeat the same mistake.” So, while translating the Ukrainian texts about the new post-Maidan President being responsible for appointing the “old guard” to high positions (whereby also letting down the millions of his voters), it’s better to use different idiomatic equivalents, like “to get into the same pitfall”, “to walk into the same trap twice”, or “Oops! He does it again!”



???????????????????????????????When I read about modern fads in teaching that are oriented at cancelling textbooks (and replacing them with the Internet), or at reducing the “dependence” of students upon teachers (“students teaching each other”, “students teaching students”, etc.), I cast a look at the card my daughter-in-law brought me as a present from Germany. The card imitates students’ letter addressed to their teachers: “Wier prauchen keine Leerer, wier sint schon selper schlau”, which, if an analogous message were created in English, would be worded as “Wee nead no teechers, wee ar alredy smart arselves.”


%d bloggers like this: