The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Friday, November 10, 2006

Fluff around the edges

In recent days, I’ve come across several media reports about a new Collins Guide to Rhyming Slang “Shame about the Boat Race”. And as with all such media stories about “new words”, I find my natural linguistic interest tinged with more than a hint of irritation. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being snotty about language, I’m as fascinated as anyone by the wonderful capacity of English to evolve and grow and change. No, my annoyance is on a much pettier, more personal level. Because I know it’s only a matter of time before someone will ask me if I’ve heard about the latest book/coinage/debate and expect an opinion. It’s a bit akin to asking an accountant what they think about the latest stock market fluctuation, you know the person’s only trying to take an interest, but it’s just not your thing.

As someone whose main role is to present language as clearly and usefully as possible for people learning English as a foreign language, the fluff around the edges of language, which seems cute for a while but soon blows away, just isn’t really relevant. I’m much more interested in understanding the language we all use every day and, believe me, that’s quite enough of a challenge in itself. I spend my days trying to pin down the difference in meaning between “faithful” and “loyal” or trying to explain to a student why “money” is an uncountable noun (because of course, you can’t count money!). The fact that Wallace and Gromit has become rhyming slang for ‘vomit’ is just way off the radar for most of my punters!


Post a comment

<< Home