Feeling quite chuffed actually

There you go.  The title is a British is you can get.  Actually.

Three quarters of the way through the year 2017, and I’ve written a daily entry in my Moleskine A5 size diary for every day bar about five or six days.  (That was the old-fashioned way of blogging.)  My best year (so far – three months to go) ever.

I guess it’s a case of self-discipline and just getting into the habit.

Still more Adrian Mole than Samuel Pepys, however. 🙂

Have an entry a day, won’t you!

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The Evolving English Language: Part 83

I love seeing how languages evolve.  That’s why I loved CSP (Comparative Slavonic Philology) in final year at university.

  • Why is there an “h” in “ghost”?  Because Caxton employed Dutch typesetters on his printing presses, and they were used to seeing an “h” in their word for “ghost.”  In it went…
  • But then, why do we call the people from the Netherlands the “Dutch”?  Because the people from the Netherlands and the people from modern-day Germany were seen as one and the same people.  Hence “Deutsch” becomes “Dutch.”
  • Ain’t no doubt about that.  But what about the word “ain’t”?  Until the late 1700’s, “ain’t” was, in fact, the perfectly correct shortened form of “[I] am not.”
  • As for “its”, this is a relatively new word in modern English.  Up until the late 1600’s the word “his” was used in relation to both “he” and “it.”
    • That man: his head.
    • That book: his author.
      • Just like in modern German.
        • Dieser Mann: sein Kopf.
        • Dieser Buch: sein Autor.
    • An intermediate step was the “there[proposition] because not everyone liked to use the word its, eg:
      • Parts thereof
      • Therein lies the message
  • Mad as a hatter?  Hatters used mercury to clean dust off hats.  Breathe in mercury vapour, and it’ll cause brain damage.  And why call a hatter a “milner”?  Because Milan in Italy was famous for hat-making.

Finally a clip that may appeal to all the etymologists out there, even if you are not that interested in insects.

Have a lexical day, won’t you!

Untranslatable Expressions

Every language has untranslatable words and expressions.

Today’s untranslatable expression is:

“Back-seat driver”

I’m not sure if it’s a British expression.  (Americans, do you use the same expression?)

What does “back-seat driver” actually mean?   Let’s turn to www.urbandictionary.com.

1. A passenger in the back seat of the car who criticises the driver.

2. Anyone who offers unwanted advice.

Two definitions, the first of which is literal, the second is somewhat figurative, and the one that is more frequently used in British English.

I am sometimes asked what the role of church warden is like.  To ex-military people, I tend to explain thus:

It’s a bit like being RSM in a regiment.
To “civvies,” I tend to explain thus:
It’s a bit like being a shop steward.
One of the key tasks of church warden is to deal with the back-seat driver, who has an opinion and “expertise” on most things everything within church.

22:30 on Saturday evening: Beep-beep.  WhatsApp message from Back-Seat Driver (BSD).

“The church website is down for maintenance.  Why?”
My reply:
“Probably because our webmaster is doing some updates.”
Beep-beep.  BSD again:
“But why’s he doing maintenance work on a Saturday evening?”
My reply:
“Because he’s doing it in his spare time, and he’s doing it for free.”
Beep-beep.  It’s now 22:39.  BSD yet again:
“When’s the new-look church website going to be ready?”
Point to note: I am not a fiery redhead, but by now, I was on the verge of acting true to stereotype.  Instead, I remembered that useful phrase from my interrogator course all those years ago.  I decided to “ICATQ” him.
“I cannot answer that question.”
Beep-beep.  BSD yet yet yet again:
“Why not?  You said you were aiming to get the website up and running this month.”
(Ladies, when I use the word “aim,” I mean it in the same sense that men “aim” for the toilet bowl.  It’s very, very approximate.  You get the picture now, don’t you?)

My reply:

“I cannot answer that question.”
I think by 22:47, BSD had got the message.  Literally and figuratively.  Time for me to switch mobile phone off for the night. 

BSD has a habit of advising others on how it should be done better.  In fact, he gives more “on-the-spot guidance” than Kim Jong-un, President of North Korea.

kim
Some “on-the-spot guidance” from BSD…
  • We should use fresh milk instead of UHT milk  for post-service refreshments.
    • “Fine.  Then you go buy some…  What’s that you say?  You don’t have the time?”
  • We should brew decaffeinated coffee as well as caffeinated coffee.
    • Guess what… “Fine.  Then you go buy some…  What’s that you say?  You don’t have the time?”
  • We should provide lactose-free milk in case some visitors are allergic to ordinary milk.
    • “Fine.  Then you go buy some…  Oh, what’s that you say?  You don’t know where you can buy some?”
  • We should update the website to enable the church to do a live broadcast of the Sunday sermon.
    • “Good idea.  Hey, why don’t you do the business analysis, you write the requirements, you meet with the chaplain and the webmaster, you test it, and you launch that new functionality?  What’s that you say?  You don’t have the time or the technical expertise?  Oh, just fancy that.”
  • We should head down to the local train station and talk to people about Christianity.
    • “What a brilliant suggestion.  Many thanks for that.  Tell you what.  You design and print out a load of leaflets, you get yourself over there, you go up to people and speak to them in German… oh, you don’t speak German, eh?”

“We” in this context, in fact, means:

Anybody except for me.

The back-seat driver.  Please, please, please pray for those who have to deal with them…

Have a guidance-free day, won’t you!


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The Eight-Week Blood Sugar Diet

My name is Ginge in Germany.

I am obese.  I weigh 122.4kg.  My waistline is 120cm.  I am a type 2 diabetic. I am maxed out on tablets.  I do not inject insulin (yet).

I have tried various diets, as well as hypnosis.  Hypnosis has been the most effective method so far, dropping from 120kg down to 108kg in 12 weeks back in 2003.  A week ago I was chatting to an old classmate of mine, who is now a nurse.  She recommended the 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet.  This is the book.

Minutes after chatting to the aforementioned classmate, I had ordered the book off Amazon.  Two days later the book arrived.  Schatz was away all weekend.  I dedicated myself to reading the book from cover to cover over the weekend.  The first section was all about VLCD: very low calorie diet.  I get the idea.  I whizzed that part, yellow highlighter pen in hand.

On Sunday I bought a pocketbook at the McPaper stationery shop.  This book has now become my food diary.  Everything gets jotted there.  Today I started in earnest.  Smoked salmon omlette for dinner.  Most pleasing to the palate.  On the way back from the supermarket  I called in at my local cafe.  Tempted as I was, I refrained from ordering my usual piece of cake or bread roll.

Nur eine grosse Tasse Kaffee, bitte.

The lady sitting at the table next to mine turned out to be from Croatia.  I ended up practising my very rusty language skills with her.

Dugo nisam govorio hrvatski.

One hour and three cups of coffee later, time to head home.  I had forgotten all about eating sticky, sugar cake.  As Barak Obama once said…

…Chuffed to bits.

Any cold turkey?  Any cravings?  So far – no.  Perhaps coincidentally a slight headache, though that may be caused by the dull overcast weather or slight dehydration.  I am following expert advice and drinking 2-3 litres of water a day while on this WOE (way of eating).  On the other hand, I think my blood sugar has already improved.  I feel more alert, energetic and awake already.  Maybe it’s also because I’ve also given up on drinking cola…  Nothing like a good de-tox.  Oh, and I feel a lot more cheerful and positive, with an improved attention span.

Today I decided to work from home.

Lead us not into temptation.

That way I avoided colleagues offering me sweets, birthday cake, encouraging me to go on, have the lovely dessert, etc.  Close confinement at work, with minimal food in the flat.  If it isn’t there, you can’t eat it.

It’s day 1.  Let’s see how it all looks on day 56.

Have a healthy day, won’t you!