Goodbye ladies & gentlemen; hello everyone

Central London Railway (now Central Line) motor car 1903 / Wikimedia Commons

“The ‘ladies and gentlemen’ greeting on Tube announcements is to be scrapped, Transport for London (TfL) has announced. London Underground staff have been told to say “hello everyone” in an effort to become more gender-neutral. … The revised phrasing will be applied to all new pre-recorded announcements made across the capital’s transport network.” Read the full story on BBC News.

And while we’re on the subject of gender-neutral language: “Malta might be the next country to bring in marriage equality after the country’s government brought forward legislation to removed gender language from their marriage laws. The draft law would abolish gendered terms such as “husband”, “wife”, “mother” and “father” from the country’s Marriage Act and other laws and replace them with gender-neutral terminology. The move has the support of the centre-right opposition Nationalist party.” Read more in OutinPerth.

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Ich sage marmalade, you say jam … (But maybe not for long)

Frank Coopers Oxford Marmalade / Wikimedia Commons

“Brussels MEP plots sweet revenge for Brexit by changing definition of MARMALADE so it includes German jam.” So screamed one of the more bizarre headlines in Tuesday’s Daily Mail. What does marmalade actually mean?

According to the OED, it’s “a preserve made from citrus fruit, especially bitter oranges.”

As the Daily Mail went on to explain, “Under EU rules the spread — a staple of many British breakfast tables and beloved by Paddington Bear — can only be labeled such if it contains at least 20 per cent citrus fruit. … This enshrines in law the British definition that it refers exclusively to spreads made from oranges or lemons. But Germans have traditionally used the name to refer to all sorts of jams made from a variety of fruits including strawberries and plums. … Jakob von Weizsäcker, a German socialist member of the European Parliament, called for the definition to be changed.” You can’t make this stuff up…

Etymonline offers this history of the name of the sweet spread: “late 15c: from Middle French marmelade, from Portuguese marmelada “quince jelly, marmalade,” from marmelo “quince,” by dissimilation from Latin melimelum “sweet apple,” originally “fruit of an apple tree grafted onto quince,” from Greek melimelon, from meli “honey” + melon “apple”. Extended 17c. to “preserve made from citrus fruit.”

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What’s funky?

 

Would you get away with this name for a juice stall in North America?

Passing through Fulham Broadway Shopping center (in London) recently, I was more than a little surprised to see this juice stall pictured above. “Funky Juice.” It was the American in me that was surprised. Smelly fluids? Rhythmic beverages reminiscent of James Brown and George Clinton? A trendy tasty health drink wasn’t exactly what Funky Juices promised in that moment to me. Continue reading

Love, deuce and all that jazz

djokovic-murray

Glossophilia is posting this one again — at the start of Wimbledon fortnight today. Djokovic and Murray aren’t meeting tomorrow, but they’re both still in the game. Familiar faces, new balls …

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They’re meeting tomorrow in what promises to be a nail-biting Wimbledon final (nail-biting at least for the great British public). But how much love will there be on Centre Court between these two formidable sportsmen, Novac Djokovic and Andy Murray? On the scoreboard, there might be a fair amount during the course of the match; perhaps not so much on the court itself. Why is love the name given to the score for zero in tennis? And what the deuce is the story behind the score for 40-all? Continue reading

Woke – a new form of awake

Jeremy Corbyn / Photo Wikimedia Commons

“Was this the wokest Glastonbury ever?” So asked The Guardian this morning. “Beyoncé and, rather less convincingly, Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry have attempted to, as Vice recently put it, “board the woke train”; “woke” being the current vogue term for political enlightenment.”

Is woke a real word, used like this as an adjective? Continue reading

In the news: the return of Jay-Z’s hyphen

The newly rehyphenated Jay-Z

“It’s simple really. First there was a rapper called Jay-Z, who was very popular until 2013. Then he disappeared and was replaced with someone called Jay Z. But yesterday a new album was announced by someone called JAY-Z. … The musician’s hyphen has been reinstated with the announcement of his new album – but he’s far from the first pop star to opt for a change of moniker.” Read the full story in The Guardian.

And see Glossophilia’s earlier post from July 2013: “Jay Z no longer mononymous” …

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Is the Cornish pasty really a Devonian pie?

A Cornish pasty / Wikimedia Commons

“Controversially, I understand the Cornish pasty may have been invented in Devon.” This explosive statement was made yesterday by Celia Richardson, the director of communications for Historic England. Er – what?  Continue reading

To summer or not to summer

Alexis Axilette’s “L’été” / Wikimedia Commons 

In the subject line of a recent press release, we announced that the pianist “Alessio Bax summers on three continents.” A couple of journalists raised their proverbial eyebrows at the word summer stepping out so nakedly and brazenly as a verb. Is this a horrid case of “verbing”, the unseemly practice of making verbs out of nouns that Benjamin Franklin described as “awkward and abominable” in the late 18th century (and which Glossophilia discussed in an earlier post, “A-verbing we will go”)? Or are we allowed “to summer” as wistfully and prettily as Jay Gatsby did in West Egg back in the 1920s? Continue reading

A source for Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote about faith and the staircase?

Martin Luther King Jr. / Wikimedia Commons

“Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

When you search for that sentence on Google, you’ll get about 3,700,000 results — most of which attribute the statement (sometimes as a paraphrase) to Martin Luther King Jr. But can anyone find a source for that citation? I have searched on the King Institute web site — probably the most comprehensive collection  “of King’s most significant correspondence, sermons, speeches, published writings, and unpublished manuscripts” — and found nothing resembling that sentence.

Can anyone shed any light on the history of this famous quotation?

Many thanks to Bronwyn for raising this interesting query.

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