Category Archives: In the news …

Glosso fodder that’s making headlines

A rapper goes mononymous

Wikipedia Commons

Back in 2013, the one-and-only Jay-Z dropped his hyphen and decided to become known by his two names. (See Glosso’s earlier post, “Jay Z no longer mononymous”.) Then, four years later, he popped the hyphen back in, and returned to his one-named identity (see “The Return of Jay-Z’s hyphen“.) Today, another unique rapper has done the same thing and assumed a single moniker. In Kanye West’s case, he has become “Ye.” Continue reading

“Vranyo”: a previously untranslatable Russian word …

 

Vranyo – “Pioneered by the Soviets and perfected by Putin, this is a special word in Russia which means telling a barefaced lie which you do not expect anyone to believe.” — The Sun, UK

“When I recently opened The New York Times and saw Vladimir Putin … walking out of the Black Sea with two nearly intact ancient amphorae in his hands, the vranyo alarm went off. … The smell of vranyo was so strong I had to put down the paper. … Putin was lying to us, we knew he was lying, he knew we knew he was lying, but he kept lying anyway, and we pretended to believe him.” — Elena Gorokhova in the New York Times, 2011 Continue reading

A right royal typo

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

It wasn’t widely reported, but The Queen recently made a boo-boo in this year’s official Ascot program(me). “International competition is a compelling feature in the modem era,” she wrote in her foreword. Maybe Buck P hasn’t yet discovered wifi. Or, more likely, one of her young scribes hasn’t yet mastered the art of cursive writing…

The Times picked up the story in its Royal Ascot Diary.

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The language of sex: come one, come all (come v cum)

Update: The censored cake … With the word “cum” back in the news today, Glossophilia is happy to republish one of its most popular posts.

The censored cake / Facebook

 

KamaSutra

*  *  Warning: contains strong language *  * Language advisory: viewer discretion is advised * *

Continue reading

In the news: a linguistic Brexit? (“French leave”)

Exactly a year after the historic Brexit referendum, a British MP looks likely to achieve her goal of seeing another major change in citizenship in Europe — in a popular English expression. A bill has been steered through Parliament by the Conservative MP for Anglebury, Avril Berner, who has called for the expression “French leave” — meaning “absence from work or duty without permission” (OED) — to be changed to “English leave” in dictionaries and school textbooks throughout the UK. In a four-page document, which was reported by Parliament Today to have reached Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s signature on Thursday, the anniversary of the landmark 2017 vote, Berner argued that the word French has no business holding its place in standard British English, especially as the island nation continues to negotiate its economic and legal separation from the European mainland. Interestingly, the French equivalent for the phrase is “filer a l’anglaise” — meaning literally “to leave English-style”. The nearly 250-year-old phrase “French leave” is first recorded in 1771.

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Other English terms that contain the names of European nationalities are:

  • Spanish fly: an aphrodisiac, made from the dried blood of Spanish beetles
  • Dutch cap: a contraceptive diaphragm
  • French letter: another contraceptive, a condom

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Hall v Swift Dismissal: the uncreativity of [noun] gonna [verb]

Taylor Swift / Wikimedia Commons

Last year, songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler sued Taylor Swift, arguing that in her single “Shake It Off” she stole a phrase from their composition “Playas Gon’ Play.” Their lawsuit hinged on the phrase “playas, they gonna play, and haters, they gonna hate” — the chorus of their song.

In short, they lost. And it seems they were always [gonna] lose. “At the hearing, Plaintiffs’ counsel offered alternative (very clunky) formulations of pairing a noun with its intransitive verb, thereby suggesting that “[noun] gonna [verb]” was creative in itself. While clever, this argument does not persuade. The argument ultimately only makes sense if the use of “gonna” as a contraction of “is going to” is sufficiently creative, or (as discussed above) one can claim creativity in asserting that a type of person acts in accordance with his or her inherent nature. To explicitly state the argument is to see how banal the asserted creativity is. In sum, the lyrics at issue – the only thing that Plaintiffs allege Defendants copied – are too brief, unoriginal, and uncreative to warrant protection under the Copyright Act.” The BBC told the full story.

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