- Mariann Simms
- Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Sorry, I was out of town for a few days and didn't have the opportunity to do up any new words.
I will do one today for sure...it might be a tad late as the new episode of Doctor Who is coming on tonite. I'm fairly certain I'll pick up a word or two I'm not exactly accustomed to when I watch it.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
I took a break from my usual BBC show watching and decided I would tune in to "Top Gear" again. I had seen it years ago when Roger Daltrey was a guest on it...and watched it on and off ever since.
The show, if you've never seen it...isn't what you'd expect. It's not all just "Consumer Reports: Car Reviews" only geared for people with lots and lots of money.
Granted, they do get to drive around in some cars which most viewers could only dream about and salivate over, as if they were some "Page Three Girl". But, that's pretty much where the similarity ends.
I don't know exactly how to explain it, as they have done countless silly things in their day. For example, they all (all three of them...not an allusion to the "Page Three Girls" from above) got into their each junky-ish car and trekked across the Southern states in order to resell them again in Louisiana. Naturally, as luck would have it, they had to traverse Alabama. I live in Alabama...and sorry, Alabama, you are...well, Alabama.
Then to make the drive even more exciting and unknowingly death-defying, they each got to paint words on each others' cars...to elicit a rise out of the fine upstanding denizens of Alabama...or sadly, in this case, the dregs of Alabama. Apparently the silly Brit guys got more than they bargained for...and were run out of town...or in this case, the state...on a rail (complete with shotguns and pick-ups).
A recent-ish episode I saw had them all given X amount of cash and pretend to be dim-witted 17-year-old testosterone-driven males again...and with it, all the trappings that come from post-pubescent adolescence. Think of it as Monty Python's "Twit Contest" meets...three random guys who have a car show in Britain.
Then they typically have a celebrity on...and hand the keys to a car over to him and they, in turn, get to pretend they are Mario Andretti or (for you Alabama readers...Dale Earnhardt) for a bit...only miked during and made fun of after the timed-lap round.
Anyway, the show is quite "brill" in its on right...and it's worth a look if you never have.
The guys behind the wheel, so to speak, in this show are Jeremy Clarkson, James May (who bears, at least to me, an uncanny remote resemblance to Stephen Fry), and the adorable Richard Hammond (whom I would seriously consider having sex with if 1) he was desperate enough; and 2) if I ever wanted to have sex again)...but I'm getting off track here and that's never something you want to do on a "car/racing-based" show.
The word I'm doing up today is "faff". Now, I have to be absolutely honest and admit I have never heard the word "faff" before. I queried a few American friends, and they, too, were "faff-virgins".
I've done a bit of research and many times it is used as "faff about" which, to most people would conjure up another four-letter "F" word...but according to World Wide Words, it doesn't stem from that.
It has, however, been around in its present usage since the late 1800s...and has come to mean "wasting your time doing unnecessary things". In this specific case, popping the roof on a Porsche Boxster Spyder (see timestamp 2:50 onward) to thwart off the mechanical rain...which, when that task was finally completed, "coincidentally" ended. A bit of poetic license perhaps...but the point was clearly made.
And speaking of "poetic license", I'd still bet my bottom dollar this word routinely gets used as a synonym for "mucking about"...which, sounds very similar to a word which Doctor Seuss was probably oft-times tempted to use when he was at the end of his "can not cope" rope. So, next time here on "Brit Word of the Day", we'll introduce "rhyming slang" aka "How the bloody hell did this boffo pseudo-language ever catch on"??
Until then...I'll be swilling Effen vodka and faffing about. ;)
Sunday, May 15, 2011
During the time period of 00:02:35,240 to 00:02:38,760 in the newest episode of "Doctor Who", The Doctor's Wife, the Doctor remarks, "Right now I'm burning up TARDIS rooms to give us some welly."
How do I know exactly when he says it?
It's remarkable the things you can find on Google when you go poking about. This time around it was the exact time annotations to go along with the dialogue for the "Closed Captioning" device.
And, considering those of you out there who have seen or have a tiny inkling about the "Doctor Who" show, know he's a time travelling alien from the planet Gallifrey with a blue "Police Public Call Box" (originally debuted in Britain in 1929 - the box, not the show; the show debuted on 23 November 1963) known as the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) which is bigger in the inside than on the outside...which he...well, travels through space and time in.
I thought it was interesting enough to point out the fact that I found the exact time stamp for him saying that sentence...considering he travels THROUGH time. Oh well, perhaps again, as is usually the case, it's more interesting to me in my head than when I type it up.
In this week's episode,"The Doctor" was trying to get more power out of his time machine. For those of you who are totally lost, think of "Star Trek's" Kirk asking for more power...and Scotty saying, "I'm giving her all she's got, Captain!"
If you've never seen either of those two shows, you are probably the only one in the world and you should probably contact the Guinness World Records people to let them know.
But back to the point of all this: The phrase (not a word again, sorry) I decided upon to write about today is typically spoken as "give it some welly".
I was all over Google and in several of my etymology and dictionary books I have here at home (especially this one I wrote a blog about...which can be found here) last nite and I found out some interesting things.
Several sites state the phrase was possibly initially coined by someone egging on a racing car driver or a footballer, telling them to "give it some welly". The first would be described as the US equivalent "pedal to the metal" regarding "going faster" by pushing a car's accelerator pedal down as far as it can go...and the second would be "give it a good hard kick". So, in essence, it's only the foot we are specifically referring to in those two instances (more to come to link this up below).
Now, the first time I ever heard the word "Wellies" was on a British comedy show called "Good Neighbors" (minus the "u" in "neighbours" because Americans have an aversion of the added "u") which our PBS (Public Broadcasting Station) aired back in the late 1970s. The show's title in Britain was "The Good Life"...they had to change it in the US when they aired it here as there was a show on television with that name already...and you couldn't have two.
To make a short blog even longer...when one of the characters on that show mentioned "Wellies"...well, you figured it...even as a child, I ran to get the dictionary. This was before Google and before you could pause television, so I probably just wrote the word down and looked it up after...and didn't actually "run".
For those who aren't familiar with the term, "Wellies" are basically easily put on rubber boots you can stomp around in the mud, muck and rain with and are very popular in Britain...and as such, everyone there probably knows what you mean when you say it. Try asking for a pair here in Alabama, which I did about three years ago, and watch the hilarity ensue.
"Wellies" are short for "Wellingtons"...which are boots made fashion-famous by the Duke himself...no, not John Wayne...whose real name was actually "Marion Morrison". I'm referring to the very first Duke of Wellington; or to be precise, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington - who lived 1769–1852. While pants styles were changing (going from knee breeches to full trousers), the Duke found it considerably difficult to go from battle to fancy dress wearing the one style of boot...and decided he'd enlist his shoemaker to transform his fancy tasseled Hessian boots to something less ostentatious...and easily able to wear with the now longer trousers. So, with a removal of a tassel (or two) and the re-cutting/refitting of the shin parts...the Duke was presented with a whole new type of boot, which he undoubtedly loved because aristocracy from here to there and back again just HAD to have the same thing. Fashion trends were indeed made back in 1817...as Wellington set one and the name has stuck...to this day.
Now, after that short history lesson, we can draw the conclusion that giving something a great powerful kick or pressing their foot down hard to accelerate would conjure up feet, which conjures up boots...and boots conjure up "Wellies". It was just a matter of time before someone would specifically link them all together...and then a little more time before the phrase "give it some welly" meant "using some extreme force or muscle" for anything you're really, really trying to do -- even if it's making a fictitious time machine gain more power.
According to the fantastic website, World Wide Words, the phrase was first put into usage in the 1970s and then later popularized by comedian/actor Billy Connolly.
And when my daughter plays soccer this coming season, I'm going to be on the sidelines yelling it as loudly as I can...hoping it catches on like wildfire and everyone starts using it. Sure, I might get odd looks and the occasional question at first, but, by golly, for what it's worth, I'm going to really "give it some welly".
(In case you are wondering...that's a photo of Wellington's actual "Wellington Boots" above.)
Saturday, May 14, 2011
While I was watching a 2007 "Doctor Who" episode tonite on BBC America, Donna (David Tennant's time-traveling companion) says to some upper-class guy at some 1920s lawn party, "I like the cut of your jib" when he compliments her on being "a super lady".
Now, you already know this is a snobby party by the fact they live in a lovely, stately manor house, butlers are buttling around in tails and white gloves and the people are being announced; in this case, "May I announce the Colonel Hugh Curbishley...the Honourable Roger Curbishley."
While I find this quite prim and proper and all that rot...the thing I find most strange is the closed captioning portion didn't put the 'u" in "Honourable"...which, to me, really is most distressing. I mean, if you are going to bother popping words underneath the picture in a British show, why not take the time to do it properly, right?
Yeah...my sentiments exactly.
But, to get back to the phrase...which I decided would be better than the obvious line of silly snob-gobbery which Donna let fly out of her mouth just moments before, "Topping day what? Spiffing."..."the cut of your jib" is used to comment on someone's appearance and demeanour. It is said it was put into idiomatic use by Sir Walter Scott in his book, St. Ronin's Well (1824): "But if they had come to Saint Ronan's because the house at the Well was full--or if she disliked what the sailor calls the cut of their jib--or if, above all, they were critical about their accommodations, none so likely as Meg to give them what in her country is called a sloan."*
Apparently sailors would differentiate the countries of sailing vessels by the triangular forsail (or jib) of their ships...and possibly this carried over to one's angular features...or more specifically, their nose.
Perhaps this is one reason why people of "such breeding" would walk around with their noses in the air?
* "Sloan" means a rebuff...for all those who were as perplexed as me after reading that line from Scott thinking it might have been "Sloane" and then thinking of "Sloane Rangers"...which came into introduction over here in the States primarily by the British tabloid press referring to Lady Diana Spencer (Diana, Princess of Wales) as a "Sloane Ranger", prior to her marriage, because of her lifestyle in upper-class West London society.
(Yes, I know this isn't just one word...it's a phrase...but I thought phrases would count as well, so there you have it.)
Friday, May 13, 2011
Well, as luck would have it - I initially set this blog up at precisely the same time that "Blogger.com" decided to go offline and trash all the work anyone did from the 11th of May until today. You'd figure they would have timed it to crash on Friday the 13th...as that would have made more sense. Needless to say, the first (and I mean first) time I have ever decided to type in the little blog box instead of as an email first...it ate it. It's gone as I have no email copy saved. Not that it was the best written thing in the world...but for purposes of this introduction, I'm going to claim it was. In fact...it was friggen brilliant!
Alas, I have to start all over again...so here goes. It will, of course, not remotely match the witty excellence of my previous one.
Alas, I have to start all over again...so here goes. It will, of course, not remotely match the witty excellence of my previous one.
The concept of this blog came to me as many times I have to stop a British show or film I'm watching and Google the word they're using in order to see what it actually means. Words in the United Kingdom, whilst English, don't necessarily make their way over across the pond to us here in the United States...and are, in essence, foreign to the majority of us non-native Anglophiles. Some words used are the same as words we have here...but used in a whole other context.
I find this utterly fascinating...and I thought perhaps others might be as intrigued as I am about it all. For some inexplicable reason I've always been drawn to all things British ever since I was a tiny child; this is one way I can delve into another world without ever leaving the confines of my little [pathetic Alabamian] world and the comfort of my sofa.
As I watch a LOT of content from the "BBC America" channel, and I'm always stopping to rewind, put on subtitles, and/or look things up -- I feel confident there are at tons of words which I'm not entirely familiar with...and I'm guessing I can't be alone. So, my plan is, from this point forward, when I run across a word that literally makes me take pause...I'm going to blog about it (in my own inimitable fashion.) Hopefully, this whole process will be somewhat entertaining to more than just one person aka "me".
So...that said, I invite everyone to participate...especially if you're from the UK. I also welcome comments, corrections and content as I'd rather be a "Brit-wit" than a nit-wit any day.
And that's what this blog's about.