I just saw this fantastic piece of copy on the ever-excellent BoingBoing blog via consumerist.com. (Check me being a good web-citizen and name-checking my sources!)
Apart from the word ‘gobs’, which obviously doesn’t have the same connotations on the other see of the pond, this copy makes me want some ice cream, right now.
If I lived in Wisconsin, I’d be trying that ice cream for sure. But I don’t, so I’m day-dreaming about Marine Ices in Chalk Farm instead…
There’s an interesting grammar quiz on the BBC new website. I got 8 out of 10 which means I just scraped in as a Grammar Guru (phew!). I wouldn’t have minded if I was a Promising Pedant, but think I would have been thrown out of the Dept. of Words if I had been a Colon Confusenik. I dispute one of the answers I got wrong, but had absolutely no idea on the other one. Try it for yourself here.
Smug update from Writer-R:
I’ve just seen this article on the BBC News Magazine site about John Simpson, who is retiring this year after 37 years as Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. He’s not the same bloke as the BBC War Correspondent, but has had a career just as interesting, although much less dangerous, hunting for the evidence behind the birth of new words.
It turns out that the etymology of some words turns out to be contrary to common belief, although I must admit I find some of the mythical explanations – such as ‘posh’ coming from ‘port out, starboard home’ for the best steamship cabins on the trip to India – more pleasing than how the words actually came to be. (He doesn’t explain posh here, but it apparently existed as a phrase for money before the steamships did.)
I like how ‘Pom’ does not come from ‘Prisoner Of his Majesty’, but has actually evolved from immigrant to Jimmy Grant to Pomegranate to Pom.
Makes you wonder what future etymologists will make of hashtag, lolz, and the like.